TRAINING FOODS: The Village Lanterne

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There’s no season that brings more nostalgia more for me than the fall. The crispness of the newly dropping temperatures, the smell of pumpkin and apple pies in the oven and, of course, the merriment of the inevitable Oktoberfest that we always seek when October peeks its head around the corner.

We find this gaiety and happiness at the Village Lanterne found alongside the railroad and in the heart of the town of Lindenhurst. Connected to the Black Forest Bakery, the Village Lanterne is a step in from streets of Long Island and seemingly into another country entirely. The décor has just the right amount of kitsch to make it an extraordinary experience from the world outside. The restaurant is massive and extends well away from the busy street of North Wellwood Avenue and opens into a delightful outdoor patio and beer garden, perfect for our sunny afternoon lunch.

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We arrive as they open their doors and have used our waiting time to pick out a cookie from the beautifully stocked cookie and pastry display cases in the bakery. It’s a bakery of merit; I haven’t seen one this well stocked and charming in a long time. The bread is baked fresh to supply its storefront as well as the restaurant. For a special treat, their pretzel roll is to go ga-ga over.

We choose to sit outside under the shade of the Hofbrau-Munchen umbrellas and sit alone outside while the restaurant indoors fills up. The patrons come for the delicious food, the ambiance of the German décor and of course, the imported beer. Daniel and John are thrilled to have a bit of freedom as they await their meals and ogle and laugh at the garden gnomes that watch us from their garden homes alongside the tables.

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The children’s menu is appropriate and has just the right amount of German and American variety to please the masses. John gets his new favorite food, a hot dog; Daniel opts for the pasta and butter. John’s comes out on a decadent pretzel hot dog roll, warm and smeared with butter. My husband and I salivate while we await our own. I opt for an open-faced bratwurst reuben, atop gloriously fresh rye bread, smothered in Swiss cheese and sauerkraut and accompanied with real German potato salad just like the one my grandmother used to make; it brings nostalgia for my German-influenced childhood. My husband, Michael, orders the Hungarian goulash and uses John’s pretzel roll to dip in the remaining mouthwatering juices left on his plate.

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The meal is topped off with a beer and the boys take a cookie to go. We leave here with a new favorite place to add to our list and head back to catch the train home.

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