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Back on Schedule {Ray’s Café}

August 21, 2011

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Two months had passed since our last Thursday night Seattle dinner. That’s just the sort of summer it’s been. Warm weather took it’s precious sweet time arriving in Seattle, so, at least from a weather perspective, I didn’t miss much. Since returning, life has seemed a bit out of whack (for lack of a more accurate description).  Between an abnormal work schedule, a nearly week-long illness and a higher than normal number of social commitments, not much about the past two weeks has been routine. I think I’m ready for routine.

As we get back to routine where Thursdays are concerned, B and I decided to prioritize the restaurants on our schedule with attributes best showcased in warm temperatures over the next few weeks. First up, Ray’s Café. The food at Ray’s has a reputation for quality, but people really go there for the views.

B and I visited Ray’s a couple years ago when one of B’s good friends was in town. The most vivid memory of that visit (after the view) was of a very, very long wait for a patio table. This time, though we arrived as early as we always do, I was prepared to sit in the bar or inside if the wait time was insane. When the hostess offered an estimate of 20 minutes (or immediate indoor seats), I was happy to wait… And so we did. About 15 minutes into it, another couple came in. The man obviously knew the hostesses. Maybe he was a friend, another employee (though it seemed they hadn’t seen him in awhile), or a former colleague. He put his name on the list after hugs all around for the hostess stand and he and his date took a seat right next to us. Not even five minutes later, they were on their way to a patio table for two without the hostess so much as looking in our direction. I didn’t say anything (I should have), but I was not impressed. Given they’re very clear in their policy against patio reservations, it’s clear they prioritized their friends over their regular customers. As I said, not impressed.

Once we were finally seated outside, the situation started looking up. They sat us at a table with a view looking straight at the other tables, sitting side by side. That’s not their fault, though. How were they to know I have an –ism about same-side-of-the-booth-sitting? I really, really don’t like to do it. In the first place, I’m just not a mushy, cozy-up to my dinner date kind of person (neither is B). More than that, though, it’s just not conducive to a pleasant meal for two. It’s just so much nicer to sit across from and actually look at the person you’re dining with. Same-side sitting also usually means you’re going to be staring at other diners which is pretty awkward. The upside to this particular same-side seating experience is that, just past all those other diners, was a seriously impressive view in spite of the early evening cloud cover.

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B definitely has his seafood compass foods. Left to his own devices, he’d order clam chowder and coconut prawns in every seafood restaurant he set foot in. Lucky for him, there were no coconut prawns on the menu at Ray’s. There was clam chowder, though. We both had a cup.

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B’s cup lasted exactly 15 seconds. Ok, maybe he took a little longer with it than that, but not much. I’m pretty sure he could have eaten a whole bowl after the cup. I’m not sure what gave the chowder it’s spice (the oil drizzle, perhaps), but it definitely had a nice kick.

Their menu isn’t all that extensive, but I still had a terrible time deciding. In the end, I chose the Dungeness crab and Rock shrimp cakes (with couscous tabbouleh, zucchini pickles and avocado green goddess dressing).

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Maybe it was the breading, but I was only able to eat one cake and the tabbouleh before I started to feel really full. I very much enjoyed them, though, and B was happy to help out a little with the one I couldn’t finish. As for B, he chose the Grilled Alaskan King Salmon (served medium-rare, with mashed potatoes, green beans,toasted almond puree and blueberry-black pepper compote).

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It lasted for a couple minutes longer than the chowder, but not much. It was definitely a hit! He commented several times that the fish was extremely light.

We sat for awhile watching the paddle boarders (there were a lot of paddle boarders), eventually watching from beneath fleece blankets handed out by the staff since the weather turned fairly cold. Eventually, we decided to give dessert a shot, opting for the flourless chocolate cake.

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Sadly, the dessert was the lowlight of the meal. I appreciate what they were getting at, but the cake just seemed confused. It almost had the texture of a molten chocolate cake without a ramekin to hold it together and without much of a cooked outer layer, so it just sort of fell apart into a pile of hot cake batter. It had a nice flavor, though.

I’m still holding a bit of a grudge against the Seattle weather for the clouds that rolled in just in time for dinner despite an otherwise beautiful day. It was warm enough to sit outside, though, so I’ll still call it a success.

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