Fifty years ago, Johnny Dee’s Lounge was a fledgling restaurant in Baynesville (now considered Parkville). Today, the throwback eatery continues to serve many of the same hand-made foods of its past to diners who have been going there for decades. It’s also attracting new customers who want to experience a taste of old-style Baltimore dining. When you call the restaurant to make reservations, a hostess inquires whether you’d like a table in the dining room or lounge. But the lounge does not mean the bar area. This space looks like a ’60s rumpus room with its brightly colored plastic-upholstered chairs and couches and low Scandinavian wood tables. Betty Draper would feel right at home.
On a recent visit, we opted for the mauve-wood-paneled dining room. You’ll notice lots of small plaques in both rooms. These brass plates, imprinted with the names of regular visitors, add to the nostalgia.
Johnny Dee’s shrimp salad is revered by its patrons. The chunks of shrimp, lightly dressed in a mayo-type dressing, don’t overwhelm you with Old Bay. The serving is generous whether you get a sandwich or a platter. We love that the platter comes with buttered bread, just like Grandma used to serve.
While you can find staples like grilled cheese, burgers, and pizza on the menu, one of the treats of going to Johnny Dee’s is ordering its retro food.
Sour beef and dumplings are available as well as hot-turkey platters with mashed potatoes or fries. Turkeys are roasted every morning in the restaurant’s kitchen. Then, the tender meat is thickly carved and piled high on each plate like multiple blankets on a bed.
Desserts run the gamut, from cannolis to assorted cakes. Irish coffee is considered a dessert at Johnny Dee’s. On this night, the homemade rice pudding appealed to us.
This is a dish to share. But first, there are decisions to make. Our friendly waitress asked: Do you want the rice pudding warmed? A swirl of whipped cream? Extra creamers? We couldn’t resist the temptation to try it all, luxuriating in the decadence of such a simple dish.
And that sums up Johnny Dee’s—basic foods that keep the crowds coming.
›› Johnny Dee’s Lounge, 1705 Amuskai Rd., Parkville, 410-665-7000. Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 4-10:15 p.m. Sun. Appetizers: $7.25-8.95; sandwiches: $4.50-10.95; platters: $7.95-12.95; dessert: $3.75-7.