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Jenny from the block 

I first discovered Jenny’s back in my apprenticeship days; I was preparing for my journeyperson’s exam at the Nova Scotia Institute of Technology on Leeds Street, and Fridays after school we would head over to Jenny’s to relax.

I’ve always been curious about Jenny, the bar’s namesake. My mental image of Jenny is that of an old saloon manager—a little bit rough around the edges, enough to keep the rowdy crowd in line, but with a generous heart. I’m so wrong—turns out Jenny doesn’t exist. “She’s pulled out of thin air,” co-owner Steve Pollock says. “It was a rough place with a bad reputation, and when my father bought it 20 years ago, he wanted to clean up the image so he gave it a woman’s name.”

I’ve always liked the atmosphere at Jenny’s—it has a real homey, blue-collar neighbourhood tavern feel, the food is simple, good stuff and the draught cheap. Although it’s been awhile since my last visit, I know the popularity of the place hasn’t waned—the parking lot is frequently full when I drive by. Feeling nostalgic one night, we decide to stop for a bite.

Jenny’s seems bigger and brighter somehow, and I quickly realize it’s because of the now enclosed VLT/smoking area. A fresh coat of paint and some new booths add to the updated look, but I’m relieved to see that in the pass-through window to the kitchen, there’s still a fine rope with clothespins attached for the order chits. In fact, our bill comes on a handwritten receipt: “2 meals 2 pop 32.00.” No computerized printouts here.

Our waitress (“server” seems too modern for a place like this) is fast, friendly and quick to share her recommendations and make sure that our meals are good.

Most of Jenny’s menu is typical pub offerings—club sandwiches, deep fried stuff, chowders—but they offer a wide selection of home-style daily specials like liver and onions and pan-fried haddock, usually under 10 bucks. We look over the menu and decide on steak and chicken Parmesan (don’t know the exact prices, but as noted, two meals, two pops $32 tax included, and that’s dessert too).

The striploin is tender, with crosshatch marks from the grill that make it a thing of beauty. Fries on the side and this standard pub fare gets two thumbs up. The only sauce here is HP, which, with meat this good, is all you need.

The chicken Parmesan is the biggest breaded deep-fried chicken breast I’ve ever seen, topped with a hearty tomato sauce and plenty of cheese. It’s served on fettuccini noodles instead of the usual spaghetti (just an observation, I’m not complaining) and with a monster-size side Caesar. Another hit.

We’re stuffed from the large portions but can’t pass up dessert. We try the apple pie and ice cream and a slice of cheesecake with chocolate and caramel sauce. The pie, served warm, is very good, but the cheesecake is sublime. I’ve eaten a lot of cheesecake, and very rarely had one this outstanding—it’s light and airy and full of cream cheese flavour. So often, cheesecakes are baked to a state of dry, crumbly inedibility, but not this.

I’m pleased to report that the new Jenny’s is just as comfortable, homey and welcoming as the one I remember from my school days, and I’ve made a note to not let so much time pass before stopping by again.

Jenny’s Place Pub and Grill5211 Lady Hammond Road455-5824Kitchen hours 11am-10pmBar hours “10am-depends on the crowd” (quote from server)

Stop by Liz Feltham’s stomping ground on the web: www.foodcritic.ca

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