Lunch at Ray’s Cafe, Ballard

This is one of our favourite places to bring guests (the other being Frank’s) since it’s got both great food and great views of Shilshole Bay. Most days there we were able to spot cormorants and also belted kingfishers. In the summer the sunset from your table is gorgeous, and if you get sunny weather in the afternoon one feels quite beachy in this otherwise typically dreary place.

Ray's Cafe
Their dungeness crab cake is pretty good and we normally get it as an appetizer. It comes with seasonal veg and fries, which we subbed out in this case for

Ray's Cafe
this little basket of sweet potato fries. I love their sweet potato fries; they’re always fresh (and even come in this cute little fryer basket), have the right balance of sweet and salty, and come with (or maybe I always request for) a nice little dish of chipotle aioli/mayo that has just the right amount of heat.

Ray's Cafe
They serve a great bread basket with little balls of butter and is perfect for dipping in their clam chowder.

Day 3
This time we were here with JW and he ordered a spiced coffee. Think there’s cinnamon and kahlua and all sorts of other things in it. The whipped cream on top looks positively delightful.

Day 3
LZ’s bloody mary – came with a freaking skewer of smoked salmon! I bet they’d do a Caesar if you asked them to. Feat. the other photographer at the table :P

Day 3
I like their clam chowder a lot – its got lots of fresh clams and a strong smoky bacon flavour. They used to put a fancy little drizzle of dill oil on top which they don’t do now.

Day 3
Since there were three of us I ordered the brie platter – melty brie with honey and candied walnuts. I suspect people on this coast are not too fond of Paula Deen-esque recipes like brie en croute, which was quite popular on the east coast. This is much healthier of course but I still do prefer brie en croute :P Which I guess may mask the freshness of the nuts and preclude the use of things like a nice wine poached pear. Even the the only brie en croute I had here at the Purple Cafe was done with phyllo pastry rather than puff pastry.

Day 3
Curried mussels – they get their shellfish from Penn Cove, and are extremely generous with the shellfish appetizers, so these are highly recommended! We’ve had both their clams and mussels and both are excellent.

Day 3
Seared scallops over lentils – not exactly lentils, I’ve forgotten the name but it’s a type of pasta about the size of lentils and which I’m not particularly fond of! We left most of it there :P The scallops however were amazing – seared perfectly and still a little creamy on the inside.

Day 3
Another of our favourites – the black cod (sablefish) with sake kasu, although next time I think I will ask for the sauce on the side. It goes all over the rice and makes it very salty, so would probably fare better as a dipping sauce. Still, top marks for the great cod without the Kashiba price tag :P It should be noted that Kashiba’s black cod is a tad more sake-y than this one, and perhaps more well marinated although I prefer a subtler sake taste.


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