Restaurant Review #102: Rayne’s Reef Luncheonette (Berlin, MD)

Walking around the many antique stores in Berlin made us hungry. The shopkeepers at all locations were incredibly friendly. With conversation comes restaurant recommendations. Three different people pointed us in the direction of Rayne’s Reef for lunch. We were told how the burgers were the best in town, made fresh every day. Well, I am not much of a burger person and he just wanted a snack, but we still checked it out anyway. I ended up with a chicken cheesesteak (yes, fresh off this horror in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania). I must say that Rayne’s put this other place to an even greater degree of shame they were already experiencing in my book.

This was not one of the best chicken cheesesteaks I have ever had—it was one of the best cheesesteaks not made by Hunter Dillon ever. How this place in Maryland ended up thoroughly and categorically out-doing the other one, located 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia, is beyond me. This was an amazing sandwich. The chicken was well-seasoned and grilled to perfection. There was an ever so slight hint of char. It was served California style, atop a bed of lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo. The cheese was Provolone. I’ve never been a fan of Cheesesteak California’s. The combination of hot meat and lettuce does not seem to bode well, but here, it was done just right.

The lettuce was crisp, the onions were left raw which gave them a nice crunch and spicy bite. The mayo combined with the melted cheese led to an explosion of flavor and creamy textures. The bread was a fluffy and airy long roll, packed with so many ingredients that I had to eat the first half of it carefully, like a taco, because I could not fit it inside my mouth. This tiny luncheonette just cranked out a sandwich worthy of the highest accolades. Rather than fries, I got a side of coleslaw which was homemade. This lunch was only $8.95 and really hit the spot following an early afternoon tea at the Main Street Enchanted Tea Room. My friend had moose tracks ice cream on a cone, coming in at a whopping $2.69.

I am going to give them 4 out of 5 stars. The next day we returned again. We each had a cookies and cream milkshake, which were excellent. He ended up trying the famous burger, which he thought was decent, though not worth all the local hype. I had the grilled Reuben–competent, though not as good as the previous day’s sandwich. In an expensive area, this place is a respite for your wallet with a dash of old-fashioned charm. New Jersey may be the diner capital of the world, but Rayne’s Reef comes in better than probably 90% of them.

Rayne’s Reef Luncheonette is located at 10 North Main Street in Berlin, Maryland.


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