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There is no lake view at Rae's, but there was one 100 years ago. And although the lake's since been filled in, that's not why you're going: You're going because Rae's breakfast, lunch and dinner menu has filled out, now offering, in the words of owners Rae and Todd Morey, "blue collar continental." Expect omelets, biscuits and gravy, daily frittatas, Reubens, French dips, cheeseburgers, waffle fries, pork tenderloin, vegetarian lasagna, and daily pot pies. Rae's also has a full bar, with eight rotating drafts emphasizing Pacific Northwest craft brews as well as one reserved for pints of Rainier. And in a town of people who skip out of the office early for a happy hour snack, Rae's happy hour menu may be the spot's main attraction with its listing of 20 different menu items (onion rings, cheddar mac) priced between $2 and $5. Chad Walsh, 12/5/2012
Since 2012, Rae and Todd Morey have been quietly putting out unfussy but on-point brunch specialties like omelets, Benedicts and Monte Cristos—complete with turkey, ham, gruyère, egg-dipped bread, and a powdered sugar coating—from a spacious spot tucked into a sleepy corner of NW Portland’s Slabtown district. If you’re looking for something rich to soak up last night’s sinning, your best bet is Rae’s homemade biscuits and gravy: four golden-crisp-on-the-outside, tender-and-flaky-on-the-inside biscuits atop a generous portion of sweet Italian sausage gravy. But if you’re looking for something to fill you up without weighing you down, Rae’s offers seven cold salads including a keeper made with arugula, chopped spinach, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, and medium rare top sirloin medallions (also served cold) that are painted with a long stripe of chimichurri. If you stumbled into Rae’s to stretch your legs during a long car ride, you’d feel lucky to have so effortlessly found a down-home place with friendly service and such personally curated decor. Lucky for you, Rae’s is right in your backyard. Brunch runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays—although the items detailed above are available daily during lunch too, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
On paper, biscuits and gravy are kind of a no-brainer menu item, but at Rae and Todd Morey’s restaurant, a lot of thought and planning went into their truly terrific version. First, you must have a good gravy: The Moreys start with Zenner’s sweet Italian sausage and make a roux with its rendered fat, which they thicken with heavy cream and pepper with assorted spices and dashes of Worcestershire sauce. And while they say the gravy is the dish’s star, the biscuits still need to prop it up, which is why their buttermilk biscuits are split and then grilled on the flat top. Third, the dish has to reflect what they call the “golden ratio,” meaning the biscuits can’t be too bready or so large that they overwhelm the gravy—they don’t. And lastly, they say—and most importantly—in addition to being wholesome and tasty, they must be affordable. Check, check and check.