Restoration Kitchen & Cocktails
49 E. Hoffman Ave., Lindenhurst
SERVICE: Warm and attentive
AMBIENCE: Vintage bar and dining room in 1908 building
ESSENTIALS: Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday brunch 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner until 9 p.m. Reservations recommended; major credit cards accepted; wheelchair accessible by ramp from parking lot, but tight dining area
If Black Friday has you seeing red, Restoration Kitchen & Cocktails is the tonic.
The motto here is basic: Be the good you want to see in the world. In a building that dates to 1908, Billy and Nicole Miller are earnestly trying to do that. Theirs is a nonprofit restaurant. After the bills and salaries are paid, the profits go to charities and families in need.
That goal underscores a purpose of the Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization that constructed the building now housing Restoration Kitchen. Today, it’s illuminated with Edison lights and has mismatched chairs, wood-topped tables with Singer sewing machine supports, and a couple of TVs. They’re pieces coming together.
The Odd Fellows order dates to 1730 in England and 1819 in the United States. Its goals are to promote charity. Historically, the purpose was “to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan.”
Notable Odd Fellows include Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren and Associate Justice Hugo L. Black; presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ulysses S. Grant; William Jennings Bryan, Wyatt Earp, Charles Lindbergh and Charlie Chaplin.
The Millers came to this project with the idea of a restaurant “to restore faith in humanity, one person at a time.” Eat there, and you may feel more upbeat. The diners of all ages are festive, even those in car seats perched on tables. And the food is unfussy, often very good.
Nibble on corkscrew shrimp, fried, crisp, drizzled with sweet chili sauce. Dip chips into refreshing “restored guac,” juiced up with Granny Smith apples, finished with crumbled blue cheese and bacon. Pick the empanada of the day, especially the combo with chicken, potatoes and peppers.
The skillet of totchos means a heavyweight production of potato tots with melted Cheddar, bacon, red onion, diced tomato, jalapeños and an over-easy egg. It’s definitely for two or more big appetites and at least two drinks.
Burgers, sliders, quesadillas and wraps follow, along with salads. There may be a daily special, starring perhaps loin of pork or skirt steak. But try the tasty pulled pork sliders, sparked with house-made kale slaw, and a slightly sweet barbecue sauce. Trailing: dry, overdone crabcake sliders.
The namesake burger is a flavorful blend, emboldened with fried jalapeños, Sriracha mayo and habanero-spurred Monterey Jack cheese. Another, adorned with blue cheese crumbles and crisp bacon, delivers sharp competition.
Mac melt brings together macaroni and cheese and a grilled cheese sandwich, to which you can add pulled pork, thereby creating the pig mac melt. The sandwiches include tender jerk chicken, spicy but not incendiary, coated with house-made jerk sauce, then capped with pickled red onion, and shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.
All these are easily complemented with a beer. But Restoration’s cocktails are fun. Toasts abound. Make yours with the Blue Breslau, which combines Hendrick’s Gin, blackberry-and-mint simple syrup, fresh lime juice and distinctive rhubarb bitters for a potent libation. The Maple Old Fashioned uses Hudson Whiskey, maple syrup and a dash of bitters; the Oddfellow, Reyka vodka, house-made blueberry simple syrup, lime juice and club soda. In this company, the high-octane Restoration Margarita seems almost tame.
Desserts are few. Vanilla pudding flecked with bits of Oreo fills a jar and suits the eatery; the strawberry shortcake is bakery quality, and just needs birthday candles.
At meal’s end, you’ll be given a chip to deposit in containers earmarked for charities, recently one for children’s cancer research and one to aid local veterans. There’s no better digestif.