Walking into The Cookroom, I felt as if I had stepped onto the set of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The Cookroom is a small, retro-style diner car, complete with aluminum siding, and although it doesn’t look like much on the outside, on the inside you’ll find a bustling, successful diner, family-owned and operated for about five years now. Located a little off the beaten path in Middle Island, this hidden gem—open for breakfast and lunch—has its dedicated regulars—many stopped to tell me how great the place is, that they come here all the time, and to offer me suggestions on what to eat. You just don’t get that kind of following anywhere.
On a Saturday morning in early March, The Cookroom was packed. We sat at the counter while waiting for our table and chatted with Debbie, the diner’s manager. Debbie’s best friend is The Cookroom’s owner, affectionately known as “Granny Annie.” Debbie’s two daughters, Erin and Lacey, were working the floor, and all three women were incredibly kind and welcoming. I could tell that these ladies love what they’re doing—working together to create a warm, friendly atmosphere while serving giant portions of your diner favorites—some with delectable twists.
Debbie insisted that I try their Oaty Oat pancakes, so of course I ordered that. The bigger-than-my-head pancakes (a stack of three!) are made with real fruit and healthy oats, topped with apples and cinnamon. With just a drizzle of syrup, each bite was pure bliss. The pancakes were warm and moist, with texture from the oats and apples sneaking in here and there to tease my senses. I can tell why this is one of Debbie’s favorites—it’s not only meltingly delicious, but healthy!
Catching my eye on the menu were the Egg Sandwich Sliders, made with The Cookroom’s own, made-fresh-daily, cheddar buns. Yes, please! Two (sort of) miniature sandwiches shared the plate with a heaping pile of potatoes. The sliders were made with an egg cooked to my liking, with a stack of grilled Canadian bacon and a slice of American cheese melting through everything. They were the best little egg sandwiches I’ve ever had, and the cheddar buns really make the dish. They are moist, tangy and scrumptious.
We also had to try another diner staple—sausage gravy over English muffins, topped with fried eggs. The sausage gravy was surprisingly sweet, from the onions I would imagine, and in order to fully appreciate this you have to get everything on one forkful and have at it. It’s a filling, manly-man dish. Did I mention the huge portions? These guys don’t mess around—they want you to leave completely full and satisfied.
Another Cookroom specialty we were told we had to try by many of our fellow diners were the pancakes—yes, they’ve done it! The decadent cake is more like dessert, with a drizzle of some delectable cream cheese glaze and topped with strawberries—it was beautiful to see and heavenly to eat.
Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that they serve their juices in little mason jars—I love those little rustic touches. The Cookroom gets the prize for best nostalgic diner I’ve ever been to—and I can’t wait to go back and try the ABC Omelette, with Avocado, Bacon and Cheddar—yum! I also saw some pretty crazy-looking French Toast dishes, some stuffed with blueberries, others topped with bananas and walnuts. I’d also like to try their ginormous burger platters for lunch one day, too. Maybe I’ll see
The Cookroom is located at 25 Middle Country Road, Middle Island, and is open for breakfast and lunch daily 6 a.m.–2:30 p.m., offering specials daily, thecookroomrestaurant.com, 631-696-4260