Traditional trumps trendy at old-school Raymes in Lisle
Do you remember the first time your parents took you to an "adult" restaurant? The one where you felt you were no longer at the kiddie table but in the world of grown-up dining?
Raymes Steak and Fish House in Lisle is that place, and it doesn't try to be trendy or modernly innovative or even "retro" -- and that's a good thing. Sometimes you need a place where the kids aren't.
Raymes Steak and Fish House4801 Lincoln Ave. (Route 53), Lisle, (630) 963-2240, raymessteakhouse.com
Cuisine: Classic American steak and fish dishes mixed with homestyle comfort food and unique sandwiches
Setting: Dimly lit dining area featuring modern decor with comfortable seating
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday (dinner menu only)
Newly renovated with up-to-date décor after a fire damaged the building -- opened in 1974 -- Raymes is a place for adult dining. On the night of our visit, a late Saturday evening, the dining room was crowded with nary an under-30-year-old in sight. A robust and affordable menu of wine and cocktails was being enjoyed at nearly every table.
The low-level lighting adds to the old-school atmosphere of Raymes, and the menu reflects the nod to a more mature palate -- classic steak and fish offerings served without the fanfare of overblown ingredient combinations.
We started the night with two seafood picks: the classic baked scallops and the coconut shrimp, one of the more exotic dishes. A generous portion of jumbo sea scallops -- only $9 -- was perfectly seared and served in a slightly buttery and salty broth. The shrimp remained tender under the crunchy coconut crust, and a light dip in the accompanying horseradish-based sauces added a nice touch.
Probably the best course of the night was the soup. The spicy black bean soup was listed on the menu as a house specialty, and it lived up to the billing with an almost chili-like consistency and a spicy afterkick. Surpassing that soup, however, was the not-to-be-missed French onion. While you would think that the combination of onion soup, bread and cheese would be easy, it is often done wrong. Raymes' version featured a simple yet aggressive broth and stunningly creative texture layers, with a still-crispy large crouton and an incredibly silky melted cheese that stayed that way all the way to the bottom of the bowl.
For the main course selection, Raymes offers a total of five steak options, along with prime rib, a few chicken dishes and a large list of fish, including blue gill, grouper and perch. They also cook up comfort foods like meatloaf and fried chicken, along with an intriguing list of sandwiches.
My dining companion opted for the rosemary lemon chicken; the dish featured two boneless breasts of chicken that were a little light on the lemon but a bit heavy on the rosemary.
I went with the waitress' suggestion of the prime rib and received a nice large slice, cooked to my order of medium-rare. While juicy, the cut was slightly chewy, yet still satisfying.
Sides offered with the entrees were a bit limited -- four potato options and four vegetable sides -- and Raymes was out of the fresh asparagus, my first choice. My dining companion's selection of mashed potatoes came with a basic brown gravy while the "vegetable medley" consisted of a hefty portion of zucchini with peppers and onion.
The selection at such an "old school" steakhouse made me wish that they had offered a few steakhouse classics like sauteed mushrooms and creamed spinach.
The desserts at Raymes are not made on premises, but the selection features some top-notch items like Eli's cheesecakes. We went with a sure favorite of mine, the carrot cake, and received a nice slice of moist, tasty cake with rich cream cheese frosting.
In all, Raymes is a good choice for those nights when you're craving a grown-up meal -- one that leans toward the traditional over the trendy.
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.