By Danny & Jackie
Become a regular at the Old Fields Restaurant in Greenlawn and you’ll never be behind the curve when it comes to the Long Island Rail Road.
The warm, woody trappings, with cut wood in the front vestibule destined for the roaring fire blazing in the restaurant’s original fireplace, are given additional small-town charm when the train rumbles by the restaurant, giving all inside a little shake. They’ve certainly embraced the train; they keep track of the LIRR’s comings and goings on a small chalkboard by the door.
“We love this place,” said owner David Tunney. “It’s very homey.”
Tunney and company are continuing a tradition that dates all the way back to the middle of the Eisenhower administration, which got its start back in 1956 under the guidance of Greenlawn mainstay Frank Le Pera. They’re well aware of that rich tradition and the almost sacred spot Old Fields holds in the Greenlawn experience, and they’ve done a yeoman’s job preserving – and expanding – that tradition, opening a second Old Fields in Port Jefferson earlier this year.
On a cold night last week, Dave started us off by thawing us out with winter corn chowder – wholesome, hearty corn soup with a flash of decadence by way of shitake mushrooms and chive oil. Excellent suggestions drawn from their extensive wine and beer list didn’t hurt the cause either as we indulged in Fanny Bay oysters from the raw bar ($2.50 per piece), a perfect mix of briny and sweet, topped with a dash of Tabasco.
Smoked cheddar shrimp and grits ($12.95) for the table is an excellent sharable appetizer for the table, and one that will likely win over non-grits-loving Yankees. Spinach and Artichoke Dip ($9.95), with warm pita chips, is a perfect scoopable starter, and Grilled Flat Breads ($11.95) of clay-pot naan, gruyere, crème fraiche, bacon and shallots is a decadent flavor journey buoyed by the bread’s fabulous texture.
Greens don’t disappoint, either. Baby Arugula Salad ($10.95) is a smooth and creamy medley of prosciutto, wild mushrooms and goat cheese, with toasted hazelnuts that are most certainly seasonally appropriate. Mixed Baby Greens ($8.95), a blend of shaved apple and fennel, shallot vinaigrette and Maytag blue cheese, is an ideal blend of tartness, sharpness and sweetness.
And for entrees, we implore you if you’re a meat-eater to dive into something prepped in the classic 1956 Old Fields marinade. Our marinated flat-iron steak ($26.95) was a fork-tender knockout, with hints of citrus and hoisin shining through the prime beef. Likewise, leave your knives at the resting position for the succulent Short Rib Risotto ($24.95), atop a bright, creamy herbed risotto.
For burger lovers, there’s an excellent burger board; the Greenlawn ($14.95), beef with smoky thick-cut bacon, cheddar and crispy onions piled high that was a favorite from our last visit, remains for your mouth-stretching delight. And desserts continue to impress, thanks to a selection of feather-light icebox cake, s’mores sundaes, bread pudding and Coca-Cola ice cream floats.
It’s all a recipe for thoroughly modern fun, but always steeped in the hospitable traditions of 1956.
Old Fields Restaurant
81 Broadway, Greenlawn
ATMOSPHERE: Old West-flavored comfort
CUISINE: New American
HOURS: 5 p.m.-close Mon-Thurs.; 5 p.m.-close Friday; 5 p.m.-close Saturday; Noon-9 p.m. Sunday (brunch, lunch and dinner)