By The Foodies
Tim Hess is feeling summer’s good vibrations at his Shipwreck Diner in Northport Village. Being Zagat rated for the first time will do that for a guy, it seems.
The irony that one of Northport’s most famous greasy spoons is featured in the 2015 edition of the dining world’s most prestigious publication is not lost on Hess, who’s had the diner in his family for nearly 50 years now. His father, Otto, ran the Shipwreck out of the famous circa 1924 boxcar diner for 25 years. Tim has run it for 24.
The rating of “very good/excellent” is based on what locals have come to cherish about the cahs-only Shipwreck: old-fashioned comfort food, fantastic breakfasts and personable service.
It’s a Northport institution, and in recent months, Tim and the gang have taken steps toward expanding that legacy. Building upon the interior work that Ty Pennington and his team performed last August for the pilot episode of the Food Network’s “American Diner Revival,” Hess recently unveiled a fully enclosed outdoor dining area, which he opened for dining three weeks ago. With high ceilings, big, wooden fans and brick finishes, the space, augmented by colorful foliage is perfect for lounging and dining. It’s quintessential Northport. It feels like a hay loft and a breezy beachside cabana all at once.
“It’s done very well. It’s a structure that’s going to stay in the village way after me,” he said. Every Sunday morning around brunch time, the patio becomes the site of the Breakfast Club, where Northport DJ Tommy Bruno spins tunes, many with a reggae lilt to them, as diners nosh on lobster and crab three-cheese quiche ($14.95) and sip homemade sangria and mimosas ($4.95) from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Don’t be surprised if the staff breaks out into a dance party at any given time.
It’s a perfect time to delve into some of that comfort food in which Tim and the crew excel. Stuffed potato skins with cheddar and bacon ($8.95) are an outstanding surprise. Crisp like a well-done french fry on the outside and loaded with thick-cut bacon, it’s like no other potato skin you’ve ever had – and probably the only one you’ve had with a wedge of orange on the side.
The Diner Revival-engineered “Wreckfast” burrito ($12.95) is a rib-sticking knockout, a fork-and-knife burrito stuffed with perfect scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, cheese and hash browns and smothered with thick hollandaise. Go lighter with the “Wreck-less” burrito ($14.95), which includes salmon, egg whites, grilled tomato, avocado, arugula, and lemon aioli on a whole wheat tortilla.
Lobster rolls ($19.95), a seaside summertime staple, shine in their simplicity – fresh, sweet claw meat, a touch of mayo, celery and onion in a fluffy roll. French fries served on the side are crispy on the outside, full of potato flavor inside. Make sure if you’re in the mood for Marion’s homemade cheese blintzes ($13.95) to get there early to beat the rush, because they go quickly.
Then, of course, there are the classics: the sidecar breakfast platters, the breakfast specials, pancakes and French toast, grilled sandwiches, club sandwiches and everything else you’ve come to love over the years.
And, for the first time, you’ll be able to enjoy some of those favorites after hours on the weekend. Tim’s is now open until 9 p.m. on Saturday nights for lunch and dinner dishes.
Asked about the state of affairs at the Shipwreck, Tim is emphatic: “Perfect,” he said, lounging in a chair on the patio. “Couldn’t be better.”