Eugene’s Diner & Bar doesn’t seem like a new restaurant. Disco blares over the speakers, and the décor has a distinctly ’70s-diner-meets-Grandma’s-unfinished-basement vibe in an intentional, social-media-ready kind of way. Mustard-yellow booths line a wall with old-school wood paneling and floral wallpaper.
The long lunch counter looks into an open kitchen with an expansive flat top, rotisserie, and rotating pie display. A funky array of hanging knick-knacks includes shots of Farrah Fawcett and Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman.
It’s an odd choice for a restaurant where chef-owner David DiBari (The Cookery, The Parlor, The Rare Bit) spent nearly a year on a gut renovation.
“I felt the design would be a good way to bring back diner culture,” explains DiBari, who named Eugene’s after his grandfather. “The ’70s was an era in which diners were flourishing. It was also about equal opportunity; freedom; music; and sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Plus, I just couldn’t find any more barnwood and raw steel pipe.”
Much like the design, the menu straddles the line between retro and modern. A giant, fluffy matzoh ball comes in turmeric bone broth enriched with foie gras fat. The 13” hot dog with sharp, spicy mustard; the griddle-crisped bologna, which shows up in a sandwich with cheddar cheese sauce; and even the rotisserie Spam (yes, it’s a thing) are made in-house.
A pastrami-style short rib is a luscious upgrade on the classic; the inside-out grilled cheese has an addictively crispy exterior; and the double-patty burger can be topped with foie gras if you’re feeling bougie.
PHOTO COURTESY OF EUGENE’S/CHRIS PERINOâ€‹
The lunch counter at David DiBari’s first Port Chester restaurant, Eugene’s Diner & Bar.
An entire section of the menu is dedicated to all-day breakfast, including inch-thick, Japanese-inspired pancakes; French toast with blueberry syrup; and crispy salt-and-pepper eggs, battered and fried sunnyside-up eggs with ginger and garlic, a nod to Chinese salt-and-pepper-style dishes.
Runny, custardy yolks on a thick slice of toasted milk bread topped with Parmesan and/or an optional spoon of caviar is a simple yet standout order.
Dessert selections rotate but expect offerings like peanut-butter-and-jelly layer cake, seasonal fruit-topped cheesecakes, apple pie, a piña colada Jell-O mold, and The Cookery’s popular stickabutta pie blended into the milkshake. “Diners give us the license to do whatever we want,” says DiBari. “We like to stay outside of the box.”
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