Rae & Jerry’s
Neighbourhood: St James
Address: 1405 Portage Ave
Some restaurants stand the test of time, product of some magic recipe of quality cooking, exquisite style, and a little luck. These are the restaurants that linger over decades, accumulating fans, earning their place in a city’s history. These old school eateries serving uncomplicated recipes in dining rooms frozen in time evoke such strong feelings of nostalgia it is little wonder why we are drawn to them as havens of comfort.
Rae and Jerry’s is the epitome of such a classic. Its expansive wood-panelled interior clad in red vinyl furnishings, white cloth covered tables and seasoned staff represent a winning combination that continues to attract loyal and new curious diners. Tables have always been socially distanced in this 390 seat space; now a few transparent dividers offer even more privacy for table talk.
In the lounge, furnished in more red vinyl covers swivel bucket chairs, effortlessly coaxing guests to sink happily into a retro state of mind. Highball cocktails pair perfectly with smoked meat sandwiches and skinny fries.
Little has changed on the menu in 65 years. Diners are treated to perennially popular little luxuries that delight. Plump steamed shrimp, as a starter paired with cocktail sauce, serve to remind us how satisfying a favourite ingredient can be. The delicate seafood also appears as an entrée, lightly breaded and fried, served on toast and accompanied by a sweet-savoury dip
Above all, this destination is a beacon for beef eaters lured by a well practiced kitchen that consistently delivers what it promises. Strip loins, T-bones, filet mignons and prime ribs ranging from 6 oz to 20 oz. are grilled or roasted precisely to individual specifications.
Each meal includes a bowl of soup (luxurious seafood chowder on one night) or chilled tomato juice and two other accompaniments: potato (baked, garlic mashed, French fried), rice, tossed salad, onion salad, sliced tomatoes, coleslaw or vegetables.
French fry connoisseurs are treated to house cut and divine crispy golden bites, rivaling the golden arches for addictiveness. Garlic mashed potatoes are light on spice and simply steamed broccoli is crisp and covered in classic (mild) cheese sauce. Flavours are familiar and comforting, reflecting simple home style preparations that predate a foodie’s world of obsessive eating quests.
Here, people don’t come to be surprised. They come to be wrapped in a warm hug of memories – or to discover this special spot for the first time. On either table, you’re sure to see a slice of airy house-made coconut cream pie. Some comforts need no explanation.