Jeffrey’s annual treat

In the old days, the staff at Jeffrey’s wore costumes on Halloween. That was back when Chef Raymond, so the stories go, refused to cook fine beef beyond a certain point of doneness, no matter how it was ordered, back when the menu was on a blackboard, back when the physical premises were much smaller. From the first days of Jeffrey’s, we made an pilgrimage every Halloweeen without fail even if money was short every other day of the year.

I don’t believe that we’ve been to Jeffrey’s since last Halloween. Last year’s was very good; this year’s was superlative. Somebody is bringing out the very best in vegetables, allowing their essential nature to shine forth while adding mysterious savory enhancements: cabbage, carrots, chard, beets, spinach, potatoes, bell peppers, and those are just the ones we tasted. I’m no fan of beef tenderloin, but a fellow diner shared a slice from his plate and I never expect to taste a better example: lightly smokey, handsomely browned on the outside, and with the proper degree of rareness and every bit of flavor of which that often bland cut is capable of offering. My superlative plate starred red snapper, brought piping hot to the table and in every way an exemplar of perfection in freshness and preparation. New since the last time, at least so far as we can remember, are the three stand-alone vegetable items on the menu. One of them is a cone of beautiful pommes frites (thin, match-stick French fries in a cone), served with a tomatoey “ketchup.” We, along with many, ordered the crisp oysters and the spring rolls, those menu constants, as well as that perfection in chocolate named intemperance. The menu posted on line hews quite closely to the current offerings of the season.

Music was on the jazzy side, with many vocals by Billie Holliday. The volume was never enough to in any way inhibit the lively flow of conversation. Dress among the patrons was eclectric, and the welcome, as always, was warm for all. We especially enjoyed conversing about the early days with two of the stalwart veterans on the waitstaff who remember them just as well as we do.

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