Rae restaurant

WHERE: Rae is located in the Cira Centre, next to 30th Street Station, at 2929 Arch Street.

WHY: Because it’s probably the most beautiful restaurant ever built that also happens to be located underneath an escalator. Rae’s location—tucked smartly in the lobby of Cesar Pelli’s Cira Centre—does take some getting used to. But once you’re settled into a seat at the bar or in the lounge, the unconventional setting is easily forgotten.

ANOTHER REASON: Foodies rave about Rae chef Daniel Stern, who made his mark as executive chef at Le Bec Fin before opening his first restaurant, Gayle, in Queen Village. In its first year, Gayle was named one of America’s 10 hottest restaurants by Bon Appetit magazine

JUST ONE THING: At least one writer had a bit of trouble actually locating Rae. Visitors coming from 30th Street Station should first follow the crowds toward the station’s Septa Regional Rail wing (where, it should be noted, several new vendors, including a large new Bucks County Coffee, were recently added), then keep heading straight toward the Cira Centre. Take the escalator up, then once inside the building, take the down escalator to the lobby. You’ll see a security guard station. Rae’s open lounge/bar area is directly behind you.

SURPRISE: Rae’s interior design—clean lines, modern touches—has drawn some much-deserved raves. But the real treat is Rae’s surprising view of Center City. There’s nothing like it on this side of the Schuylkill.

A HAPPY HAPPY HOUR: Rae offers a complimentary buffet and $5 drink specials from 4:30 to 7 p.m. daily. Among the free goodies? Fondue, an artisan cheese table, cured meats, olives, marinated vegetables, assorted fresh and dried fruit, and wasabi popcorn. Wash it down with a Rae Cocktail—that’s vodka with blood orange puree and tarragon.

ON THE MENU: Stern’s menu offers a little bit of everything, mixing standards (under the heading of “Rae Standards”) with truly unusual items (“Rae Renditions”): The lunch menu includes not only burgers, but also a venison cheesesteak; for dinner, take your pick between grilled chicken or rabbit paired with Brussels sprouts and white beans.

THE DETAILS: Rae is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., for lunch; Monday through Thursday 5:30 to 10 p.m. for dinner; and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 11 p.m. The lounge is open from 11 a.m. until closing. For more information, call 215-922-3839 or visit www.raerestaurant.com.

Originally published on March 15, 2007