Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ray's Boathouse & Cafe, Ballard.

It's a gorgeous day in Seattle, and my friends and I head out to the famous Ray's Boathouse & Cafe to celebrate a birthday, sunshine, and food. We make reservations for the cafe, but arrived early enough to secure a wonderfully private corner of the deck.

Side note to the skin-cancer conscious: No umbrellas. Bring a big, BIG hat.

We sit down and are greeted sweetly by our meek server, who has informed us that the birthday girl's husband has a surprise for the table, and she would be back shortly with said surprise. We assumed it was a bottle of champagne, and though we were right, we had to wait for the grapes to be crushed, the champagne to be bottled, corked, and shipped from France before it came to our table.

So there we are, all young and beautiful and ready as hell to drop some cash once we'd had our introductory toast, but no...we are trapped to our table with the promise of a "surprise," (why didn't she just inform us that it was champagne? how were we supposed to know that it wasn't a stripper to jump out of a cake, because if that were about to happen, i needed to run and get some small bills!) and ABSOLUTELY.NO.HOOCH. Unacceptable.

Finally, after 10 years, our bottle arrives, and how it goes down easily. We hem and haw over the menu for probably about 15 minutes before we can even agree on an appetizer. We decided on the calamari, which comes rather quickly (or was that the effect of the champagne) but without marinara, which is totally fine. So...we wait and wait for our server to come back within the vicinity of requests, and I politely ask for marinara. At this point, the deck has filled up and our server has god knows how many tables...nice going, management, for whom I blame the rest of this review.

The marinara arrives after 90% of the calamari is gone. Again, really poor form for an upscale restaurant.

But we are easy, quickly ready to forgive and move on.

We order food and another round of cocktails.
The birthday girl orders a house mixed-drink specialty, but doesn't like it sweet, so asks for the sweetness factor to be decreased...and if this were possible? Is it?

Oh yes, no problem.

Only it was a problem. Perhaps the bartender should have known to either refuse to make the drink because it was going to be a serious disaster if the recipe were altered or to TASTE the cocktail before sending it out to the table. It was gross. Seriously gross.

We had to wait for our server to return before we could fix the situation by ordering something else...something less complicated. And friends, fellow snobs, this is just the kind of lack of drinking etiquette that pisses me right off...IF YOU MUST CHARGE $10 FOR A COCKTAIL, THEN YOU MUST KNOW HOW TO SERVE IT PROPERLY AND WITH PRIDE.

Sidenote: This is also yet another reason I despise corporate restaurants.

Well, our food comes. It's fine. It's tasty for a tuna melt and caesar salad. The other dishes were simple, but a bit messy...too many flavors covering up the fine taste of Seattle's seafood. My friend had to piece apart her fish and make a new little concoction with her bread in order to taste it. Again...if your entree is $15, you should not, I repeat NOT, have to recreate it in order to eat it.

At this point, we were done. Ready for our check. We still enjoyed each other, but it was SO distracting to be taking such unprofessional care of, and we managed to drop over $ I felt especially frustrated.

I will not return to Ray's Cafe for any other important meal...but I do hear the happy hour is amazing and NOTHING can beat that view of my puget sound. So if you find yourself in a wandering mood where you don't care how the evening goes, head on over to Ray's.

Bottom Line
It's the perfect place to expect nothing of.

Sidenote: This review is of the cafe, not the boathouse. I am eager to get back and waste more money giving the "upscale" section a chance.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Chutney's Grille on the Hill, Capitol Hill, Seattle

The mister and I were in a wandering mood. How this mood took us 10 blocks uphill (with laptops in tow), I'll never know, but I am surely joyous that it did so.

After an iced-tea cool down at Victrola on 15th (a place we love, btw), the mister was getting hungry. We decided to head to Chutney's, which was the closest Indian food, and he had a hankering for some curry.

We have a soft-spot for Indian culture, and were curious how a chain restaurant could possible compare to Naan-N-Curry (our favorite!). Since Naan-N-Curry is Pakistani (northern) and Chutney's is southern cuisine, we knew the differences would be we just stopped comparing.

The place looked a bit dead when we came in, and the air conditioning was too cold to sit inside (mental note for those HOT DAYS!), so we camped on their large outdoor patio. We were immediately greeted by the friendliest Nepalese (we found out later) man. When Joel said thank you in Hindi, we made an instant connection. How he loved talking about his life and culture and how Seattle was great because people still walk (he had just returned from culturally-rich Dallas, TX). After a while, more and more people trickled in...

Yeah, so we felt at home...
But the food? We wondered.

We ordered a Coconut Curry Stew with lamb to share (never, never order more than one entree for two at an Indian restaurant, or you will have to be rolled out of there), some basmati rice, and the regular naan. It was really good! I have no idea how we still spent just over $40. Wait, it was probably our two cocktails. :)

The evening was quite pleasant with our conversation, our server, and our food.

Bottom Line
Absolutely worth the walk, but probably try somewhere else if driving.

the secret snob

Previously Stated Snobbery