Bye bye Greek diner omelets and strong coffee — hello French toast fondue and espresso martini flights. The contemporary brunch scene is booming across Long Island, even as traditional diners fall by the wayside. And the new Twisted Fork Brunch Company may be the most direct example yet. The cheeky brunch spot sits in the former home of Mediterranean Diner, a longtime staple of Bellmore's business district.
A couple weeks after closing the 26-year-old diner in September, owners Chronis and Pete Tsempelis realized the space would work better as a brunch restaurant. The brothers had been running the diner since their father Tom Tsempelis's death in 2004. Business was still good for breakfast and lunch, Chronis said, but then it dropped off around dinnertime.
So what if they reopened with a trendier concept, fewer menu items and reduced operating hours to cut down on labor costs? The idea of Twisted Fork was born, and after some small cosmetic changes to the red brick utilitarian dining room, the new restaurant opened its doors Jan. 16.
The brothers brought on classically trained chef Perry Fogg, formerly of The Breakfast Club in Rockville Centre. At first glance, the menu looks like your average brunch spot, with contemporary takes on nostalgic favorites, like a “bacon slab” of candied pork belly, a burrata omelet, avocado toasts and BEC-stuffed pretzels. Sweeter fare including pancakes, French toast and Belgian waffles can be made “twisted” by adding drizzled chocolate or bananas foster for an extra few dollars. But this kitchen is serious; the dishes show a high level of precision and there are surprisingly healthful spreads.
The prosciutto benny ($18) had a perfectly poached egg that ran when pierced, which is uncommon because it's difficult to get right. It sat on a fluffy housemade Cheddar biscuit and a nab of prosciutto, sliced thin to highlight its delicate fatty flavor. The menu advertises a side of home fries, but what arrived instead was a light medley of chopped brown and sweet potatoes, alongside a leafy kale salad.
On the “shareables” section, the lemon ricotta doughnuts ($14) came recommended by the server — who was right. Fresh out of the fryer, the golden balls had a cakey texture that was somewhere between a doughnut hole and a pancake. (Chronis said it was inspired by a zeppole.) The ricotta lent a fresh, creamy flavor to the batter.
Twisted Fork has only just opened, but the Tsempelis brothers are pleased with the change. “We've been overwhelmed. We weren’t expecting the business we’ve gotten,” Chronis said. “Not to say that diners are bad — they still are a part of history and a part of today. But we figured that this location is better served as something else.”
Twisted Fork Brunch Company, 195 Bedford Ave., Bellmore, 516-900-1740. Open 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.