It’s a Shame about Ray’s Cafe’s Lunch Service


Ray's Boathouse (Photo: MvB)

The view from Ray's deck, which is usually SRO at happy hour on sunny days (MvB)

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We’ve had some nice things to say about Ray’s Cafe (not to be confused with Ray’s Boathouse downstairs, which, despite the unlikely name, is a formal dining experience). Let’s repeat them:

The café has the usual suspects, like clam chowder, crispy calamari, and shrimp cocktail. The smoked salmon skewers with cucumber-sesame relish and fresh pineapple is a good starter. The most popular (and tastiest) dish is sablefish in sake kasu, served with grilled choy sum, jasmine rice, honey soy, and scallion oil.

But it’s only fair to report on a recent lunch trip for those of you without two-hour lunch breaks.

Casting about for an edible adventure on a nice day, The SunBreak Lunch Team made up our minds to head out to Ray’s, which, being in Ballard, is really like a trip to Bainbridge from any other neighborhood in Seattle. We arrived just before 12:30 p.m. and, initially, were seated at a table for two squeezed between a pillar and table of six to eight people. The three other open tables were reserved, we were told, so we adjourned to the bar.

There we ordered a lemonade and an iced tea, with RvO settling on a cup of chowder (“excellent”) and a half-order of true cod fish and chips ($11.95, “two pieces of fish that looked the size of chicken nuggets”), and MvB, the Ahi tuna niçoise salad ($14.50, “delicious, seared, pepper-crusted Ahi, eight green beans, two cherry tomatoes, a few olives, on a bed of bibb lettuce–actually just ask them to hold the salad and enjoy the tuna”).

The lemonade arrived promptly, but the iced tea (after ten minutes of waiting) had to be asked for again. Then the Team sat back and took in the incredible view…for another 35 minutes or so. Could it really take 35 minutes to prepare chowder, fish and chips, and salad? We bolted the food and hurried back to the office, but even so, the trip including travel took two hours.

I remembered Ray’s  having leisurely service from my last trip, but that was during happy hour, when I also was feeling leisurely. At lunch, you imagine that an hour will do. In our case, it was about 45 minutes from when we walked in until our food appeared. So we appear to be on different clocks.

Nor is this just the Lunch Team’s view. You see the service mentioned on Yelp and Urban Spoon as the reason for knocking a star off what most people find to be a quite good meal. Maybe the trick is just to start drinking at lunch–you see that a lot at Ray’s–and just forget about the office entirely.

UPDATE: Ronald Holden reports on some “tweaks” coming to Ray’s Cafe.

One thought on “It’s a Shame about Ray’s Cafe’s Lunch Service

  1. You should go just for the happy hour or otherwise expect leisurely service anytime. It is usually too crowded and loud for me.

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