Sour beef, hot turkey, and loyal regulars rule at Johnny Dee's
By Mary K. Zajac (baltimore City Paper, 5/2/2012)
“Do you want to sit at a table or in the lounge?” asks the woman taking reservations at Johnny Dee's Lounge. The longtime restaurant and bar is tucked into a shopping center near the intersection of Putty Hill Road and Loch Raven Boulevard. She's not asking a preference for dining room versus bar, but wants to know whether you want to eat at a regular four-top or at one of the Danish-modern-style couch and coffee table arrangements that create small living room tableaus in the front of the dining room. At Johnny Dee's, lounge really means lounge.
Johnny Dee's has been in business since the 1950s (it opened as simply “The Lounge”), and the essence of the '50s and '60s lingers, not least because the patronage has remained rather constant over the decades. Baltimore classics like sour beef and dumplings, hot turkey, and the house specialty, shrimp salad, are menu mainstays. (Specials include other regional favorites such as pit beef.) Framed Colts and Orioles memorabilia decorate the walls in the front portion of the dining room, which feels like someone's living room, while the back portion suggests outdoor dining with its wooden lattice and wall-mounted window frame. There used to be a garden mural on the back wall, a server explains. Now covered in floor-to-ceiling mirrors rather than pastel flowers, the effect is more disco than patio.
Still, you'll be hard pressed to find another dining room in Baltimore with such a visibly loyal following. Some taverns have mug clubs. Johnny Dee's Lounge has tiny metal plaques. Hundreds of them.
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