Rae & Jerry’s Steakhouse
Neighbourhood: St. James
Address: 1405 Portage Avenue
In a world where regional cuisine converts, television gastronomy and kitchen alchemists rule the food and restaurant scene, Rae & Jerry’s is unabashedly all about the carnivore, plain and simple.
Serving as a beacon for meat lovers for the past five decades, Rae & Jerry’s is a tried-and-true favourite for its long-time customers, who come for choice cuts of T-bones, New York sirloins, filet mignon and prime rib. The Winnipeg steak house grills and roasts meat to melt-in-your-mouth perfection and serves uncomplicated, but well-prepared vegetables on simply presented plates.
The past meets the present inside this 390-seat dining room and lounge where dark wood panelling, red vinyl booths and dim, yellow-hued lighting set the retro scene.
While most of its contemporaries have vaulted culinary chemistry and frou-frou plating to a precision sport, Rae & Jerry’s bucks that trend, by not following the trends. At the table, there are no big surprises.
Eating at Rae & Jerry’s is like being wrapped in grandma’s quilt. It’s familiar and comforting. And in this case, there’s a good chance your grandmother ate the same meal here too.
The menu has changed very little over the years.
The only thing that has changed recently are the servers’ uniforms. The waitresses’ red, straight-lined frocks have been replaced by a simple combination of black pants and white dress shirts.
The man behind Rae & Jerry’s vision is Steve Hrousalas, the restaurant’s owner since 1975.
“Steve’s motto is, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,'” says head chef Darrell Chermerika, who’s been steering the kitchen for the past 11 years.
Hrousalas might be right.
The food is simple and presented plainly.
Rae & Jerry’s caprese salad includes thickly cut tomatoes layered with bocconcini cheese, topped with a heap of sliced, white onion and blue-cheese dressing. Smoked salmon with capers, whipped cream cheese and mini-toast make for fresh and harmonious build-it-yourself bites.
At dinner, entrées are offered with a choice of chilled tomato juice or house-made soup and two other options: potato (baked, garlic mashed, French fries), rice, tossed salad (choice of dressing), onion salad, coleslaw, sliced tomatoes or fresh vegetables.
A baseball cut, 6 oz filet mignon was masterfully grilled; tender not tough; robust and gutsy with a satisfying seared grill taste in every yummy morsel. The accompanying sautéed button mushrooms were rich and buttery, while garlic mashed potatoes were a little light on the garlic, staying true to Rae & Jerry’s easy-on-the-spice philosophy. Steamed broccoli was crisp and dressed with thick cheese sauce.
Hot roast prime rib of beef sandwich, served at lunchtime with vinaigrette-dressed crispy coleslaw and a heap of shoestring fries and gravy, is a meat-lover’s nirvana.
A New York-style cheesecake topped with stewed cherries was decadent with buttery graham wafer crust. The key lime pie had fresh citrus tang. All desserts are made in house. The service is attentive, friendly and informed.