So many restaurants have opened in the last few years featuring an industrial, minimalist interior design. Legendary local Chef David Dibari (The Cookery, The Parlor, Rare Bit) has gone in an entirely different direction with the opening of Eugene’s Diner and Bar in Port Chester. Starting with a clean slate, this new eatery has accurately recreated a bar and diner from the 1970s. Stepping into the restaurant is amazing as you are greeted with all the trappings of classic 1970’s decor from the harvest gold covered diner booths, paneling and wallpaper on the walls, and period correct lighting. It was amusing to watch other diner’s observe the walls of the restaurant which are decorated with photos, string art, hook rugs and other classic 70s era pieces. We knew moments after stepping inside we were in for an evening of fun.
The large space is actually divided into several different dining spaces with the long bar that looks like it was lifted right out of a small town watering hole circa 1975. The bar serves fun cocktails and a wide beer menu with 8 craft beers on tap and 11 beers available in can or bottle. The Miller High Life split was a fun nod to the era when national beer brands were the only beers available at your local tavern.
There is another dining space with pub tables and a wall of tables decorated in classic 70s green. The space to the back of the eatery features several classic booths dressed in harvest gold vinyl as well as the counter that over overlooks the open kitchen. No diner from the era would be complete without the glass carousel of cakes on display.
Chef Dibari created the restaurant as a feel-good diner-inspired restaurant and bar serving a new take on classic diner fare. The diner is a tribute of sorts the Chef’s Grandfather who would take him to diners such as Eugene’s. Fun is the main element of the eatery from its authentic detailed decor to its inventive cocktails and the menu’s quirky spin on diner classics.
In classic diner style, breakfast is available all day. We sampled the stack of delicious Fluffy Pancakes with syrup and butter. The pancakes are not too large and are a fun way to start or end your meal.
The Custardy Yolks and Toast is a neat dish with crispy buttered toast and a lightly cooked egg yolk. Add caviar for something completely different and unique. The menu is creative blending familiar diner specialties with some items you may not see in your favorite new restaurant in Westchester.
The Bread and Avocado Butter is a fun item to share as it encourages you to tear pieces off the large wild yeast sourdough bread and dip it into your plate of whipped avocado butter. Even the plates have a retro vibe.
No diner is complete in our area without Matzo Ball soup and Eugene’s delivers with a light fluffy matzo ball and instead of chicken broth, the Chef uses bone broth. A modern update to this classic soup and it’s a winner.
Eugene’s even makes its own hot dogs. As we can expect from Chef DiBari, this is not your regular hot dog but a massive two handed 13 inch dog served with onion, mustard and their own house made sauerkraut. Also available are such staples as Tuna Melt, Burgers, Grilled Cheese and even Fried Bologna.
Main items range from Steak, to Chicken and even Sole. What about trying such quirky items as Rotisserie Spam with pineapple glaze. We saved that for our next visit. We did try the Roast Turkey Breast covered in what the menu calls as “that gravy”. A satisfying dish. I cannot remember the last time we ordered Meat Loaf with Swedish gravy in a restaurant but in light of the setting it just seemed the right choice.
There are lots of cool cocktails at Eugene’s at well and we tried the “Phil Lush” a tribute to Greatful Dead member Phil Lesh who has played often at the nearby Capitol Theater. This combo of Rum, blue raspberry cotton candy, grapefruit went down smooth.
The Harvey Keitel was another fun drink and an innovative mix of vodka, MG orange pop, galliano, ango float and sparkling soda which just fit the vibe of the eatery.
Don’t leave without sharing a shake and we sampled the Stickabutta which was a combo of cake and milk shake in a glass.
With a unique but retro inspired menu, Eugene’s will beckon you back again and again. So jump in your Trans-Am and put in an 8 Track of your favorite band and head over to Eugene’s in Port Chester. We will save you a booth.
Eugene’s website reminds us “In the movies the diner is a special kind of space,
a mythical place, a zone of escape.” We agree.
Eugene’s Diner and Bar
112 North Main Street Port Chester NY tel. 914.481.5529
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