Long Island's North Fork boasts gorgeous scenery, thriving vineyards, and Flanders's famed Big Duck, a masterpiece of 20th century vernacular architecture. But the area would be worth visiting if only for the Modern Snack Bar. The Modern is a bastion of old-fashioned comfort food, serving up gentle food at gentle prices since the Wittmeier family opened their restaurant in 1950.
The menu boasts all the coffee shop classics - chicken salad, tuna melt - plus daily hot specials like meat loaf, chicken pot pie, roast turkey dinner, and stuffed cabbage. The family's German heritage can be seen in the inclusion of sauerbraten which, like many of the entrees, is sided with real mashed potatoes.
But there's also a regional slant to the proceedings; you can get a quarter Long Island duckling with stuffing and red cabbage (order a side of the Modern's famous mashed turnips!) or take advantage of your proximity to the water with stuffed clams, lobster salad, or baked flounder. Afterwards, there's strawberry shortcake, rice pudding, or one of half a dozen pies, including chocolate cream and grasshopper.
Nothing is fancy, nothing is trendy, and everything is affordable. Waitresses are career pros and the crowd in the wood-paneled dining room is a mix of older folks and travelers stopping by on their way to New England or the vineyards. But for anyone seeking true Roadfood, the Modern Snack Bar is a destination in itself, and an experience that will warm your heart.