Charcoal-cooked cheeseburgers heaped with fried onions and sided by a genuine New York egg cream: drive-in life doesn’t get much happier than at this blast-from-the-past eatery just north of I-684 in New York’s Putnam County.
Although a roadside archeologist would categorize Brewster’s Red Rooster as a drive-in, there is no car service and there are no car hops. Still, there is a spacious parking lot and plenty of people eat in their cars (or in one of three improbably small two-person booths opposite the order counter inside. Happy service, ingenuous cuisine, and car-culture ambiance are pure mid-20th century America.
Hamburgers are not too big, not odd in any way, just modest handfuls fashioned by grill chefs from never-frozen beef and sizzled on a smoky grill. They come plain or deluxe (the latter with lettuce and tomato); and side dishes include fat-bodied battered onion rings and crisp French fries. To drink, there are milk shakes and floats made from the Rooster’s soft-serve ice cream as well as well as egg creams that taste good but are served in paper cups that obscure the cloudy chocolate patterns offered by a proper egg cream glass.
We recommend cheeseburgers gilded with an extra-cost order of onions that are grilled until limp and slippery and radiant with sweet onion perfume. The menu also lists all-beef hot dogs and fried chicken.
In nice weather, customers can choose to eat at one of several picnic tables spread across the lawn in back. Adjacent to the open-air dining room is a modest miniature golf course where kids and carefree adults wile away pleasant evenings in the Red Rooster’s afterglow.