Dining Out: Brass Lantern feels like home

By Dave Greber
By Howard Manges

February 20, 2014 Updated Mar 7, 2014 at 3:43 PM EDT

Chenango Bridge, N.Y. (WBNG Binghamton) One of the secrets to a happy life is turning a house into a home. And that's just what the owners of the Brass Lantern Tavern set out to do six years ago -- except they did it with their restaurant.

The Brass Lantern is a family affair -- with daughter and dad in the kitchen and mom and another daughter in the front of the house.

And while most follow the rule that keeps kin and business separate, the Brass Lantern works because of those very ingredients -- most of the time.

"We do have our moments," said owner Wendy Dube, laughing. "We found that the beer cooler is sound proof, so that's nice."

The Brass Lantern in Chenango Bridge is warm and inviting, quaint but not stuffy. The flavors are big and bold. The portions are impressive, about what you'd expect for a Sunday dinner at grandma's house, except Chef Jessica Dube brings a youthful passion and an air of elegance to every dish.

"I love food," Jessica Dube said. "I love everything about food. I just love mostly how it brings people together. Growing up, my family has always had food around, with happy family memories.

"And my mom has worked really, really hard to get people to feel welcomed, and that's why they come here," she added. "And they keep coming back because they love the food."

Jessica takes an immense pride in her food, from the homemade soups, to the ricotta gnocchi with a velvety brown butter and balsamic reduction, to the restaurant's new star: The haddock margarita with a lemony white wine sauce.

But the menu certainly doesn't end there, and changes daily with exciting new features or a recall of old favorites. They're also open to spur-of-the-moment creativity.

"(Customers) know that just because something's not on the menu that we won't do it," Jessica said. "We have people coming in and it's pizza night, but they want the haddock margarita, and we've run across the street just to get one piece of fish so we can do that for them. They know that whatever they want, as long as we can physically do it, that we'll do it to make them feel comfortable and feel at home."

The Brass Lantern is also known for their tavern wings -- a longtime favorite among regulars -- whose sauce recipe is a family secret. But you don't need to be a regular to understand why they're a hit; just take a bite. They also sell the tavern sauce.

The Dubes are pleased with the success they've had thus far, and they're quick to point out who's responsible for that.

"Our customers have become part of our family," Wendy said. "They support us through good and bad. We've had customers come in and help us when we've had deaths in the family, and surgeries, and they're wonderful. We're very blessed to have the customer base that we do."

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