Yes, I know, we’ve technically been to Ray’s before. But that was the Kent location. This is Fairlawn. This location is newer, with some added menu items. And trust me, Shane gave Ted enough of an ordeal about this very topic while we were out that we really don’t need to go into it here. Ha.
Ted also got an earful because it surfaced that he had actually been at this same building back when it was a Winking Lizard. According to Shane, he’s just breaking all the WTGW rules this time around. Anyway, Ted thought he remembered a patio when it was the Lizard – but it turns out that they turned it into more of an enclosed sun room. So at least we weren’t going completely for patio dining tonight, even though we technically probably could’ve squeaked a patio night out of this one. Although with our luck and the way the weathe has been around here lately, it probably would’ve downpoured on us as soon as we ordered our drinks. Because nothing says welcome back from a week’s worth of beach vacation like a boatload of rain. Thanks Mother Nature.
Another of Shane’s gripes about this Ray’s location – and I have to admit, something which we all found a bit odd – was that all of the servers were dudes. Like seriously, not a woman waitress in sight. It’s like the exact opposite of Johnny J’s over in Merriman Valley. I wonder if they did some big study that said they would get a different type of customer in if they only had frat boy looking male servers? Or was that just all who applied? Or are they all friends with the owner? Or maybe they only hire people named Ray?
So. Many. Questions.
In any case, this Ray’s wasn’t busy when we arrived, so the hostess (who was also a guy. Seriously.) told us we pretty much had our pick of seating locations. Ended up in the aforementioned sun room area. Because, well, why not.
The place has a pretty extensive draft beer list – and, even nicer, it’s readily available at each table when you sit down, thus knocking out all that “what do you want to drink?” “well what do you have on tap?” nonsense that we usually have to banter through when we first arrive. Of course we ended up with Summer Shandy for the girls.
Ted ordered a Mill Street Lemon Tea Beer … which honestly did sound rather tasty. Enough so that it even prompted Shane to follow suit. Shane then proceeded to make a bitter beer face every time he took a sip. So I guess not so tasty after all, at least by Shane’s standards. Although he later ordered a second one, which surprised the hell out of us. I guess it all tastes better after the first round? Or he just likes making that face when he drinks. Whatevs.
BTW, Ted’s second round was something called a Dirty Little Freak. **insert obvious and obligatory perverted comments here**
For our appetizer, we ordered the parmesan crusted calamari. Because, well, it was on the menu, and by now you know that’s what Shane gravitates to. It was actually really good. So good, in fact, that we devoured over half of it before I remembered to snap a picture, so sorry for that. My bad. Hey, it’s hard to get back into this blogging thing after vacation, yo.
In any case, it was just a touch spicy but not too much so, with a light breading and very good flavor. And there was a lot more of it on the dish before I snapped that picture.
Keeping with the seafood theme – and because, honestly, after a week in OBX, we didn’t have nearly the amount of seafood (actually, let me clarify – good seafood) we thought we would’ve had – I ordered the steamed mussels. They were very good, served in a butter/olive oil/tomato broth that I actually wish would’ve had a little more girth to it, but was still tasty. I also wish they had gone with a crustier bread than Texas toast on the side, but it was still delicious.
Wait, back up … did I just use the word “girth” to describe food? WTF is that about?
Moving on …
I also ordered a basket of fries, which I ended up sharing with Shane after the waiter heard him about to order one as well and warned us that it was about a pound and a half of fires in each basket and surely that would be enough for both of us to share. Um, right. Clearly he’s never met Shane or witnessed his eating prowess.
But the server turned out to be correct. I think we even had fries left over. I know, shocked the hell out of me, too.
Along with 3/4 of my fries, Shane also had the blue moon sandwich, which is a new item on the menu. It’s slow roasted pastrami and Swiss cheese on toasted rye. And it’s delicious. I tried a sliver of the pastrami and was immediately jealous of his order.
The third and final item on Shane’s side of the table was an order of 12 of the Wasabi dry dusted wings. Which he shared with Ted … um, hello, who is this guy sharing all the food all of a sudden? Last I knew, Shane didn’t share food. Interesting. In any case, they both said the wings were OK but definitely could’ve used more flavor, and not as hot as something with the word “wasabi” in them would imply.
Ted’s supplement to half of Shane’s wings was the Italian burger, which he said was good. It was nothing special, but still good. Which I guess is better than absolutely awful, so there’s that.
Amanda stuck with her usual – and the sandwich she got the last time we ate at Ray’s in Kent – the Cuban. She said it seemed to have a different bread this time around – it was served on more of a flatbread than the usual sandwich-esque bread that you would expect a Cuban to be served on. And she was thankful that the sauce was on the side because she said it would’ve ruined the sandwich if it had been mixed in. She requested regular mustard instead, and said that all in all it was a decent meal.
So, remember what I said earlier about the place being like the opposite of Johnny’ J’s? Well, that seems to hold true in the gender of the servers … but not necessarily in the style of service they provide. At Johnny’s it seems to be that you don’t just get one server at your table – you get whoever passes by and happens to notice that your glass needs refilled, or that you haven’t ordered yet, or that you’re missing silverware … you get the idea. It’s the same concept here at Ray’s. We started out with what seemed to be one waiter, who got us our first round of drinks and brought our food and I think even our second round … but then somewhere along the way he just kind of disappeared. Maybe he wasn’t upselling us on enough drinks. Maybe his shift was over and he just forgot to tell us. Maybe it was his first day and as part of his hazing they shoved him in a back broom closet somewhere and stole all of his tips. Who knows.
What we do know is that somewhere along the line he was replaced in part by a guy with hair in a man bun who appeared out of nowhere and cheerfully asked us if we needed more drinks. He was very talkative and knowledgeable about the beer selection (maybe the first guy just realized he couldn’t keep up with us alcoholics and Ted’s willingness to try anything on the menu with a strange name?) – so of course that translated into getting us to try all kinds of different beers. Which is always a good idea on a Wednesday night, right?
Case in point, Shane was convinced to try something called Magner’s Irish Cider, which sounded good on the menu and in the explanation, but we all sampled and agreed that it was awful. I swear there were ground up flowers in it. For real.
Me: It tastes like a funeral home smells.
Because that’s a good marketing statement.
Speaking of which, Amanda also learned the hard way that you don’t try Ted’s beers, no matter how delicious those crafty marketers make it sound on paper.
I lost track of what Ted was ordering but lets just say the beers got darker and darker until they rivaled the color of his shirt. And that’s not just because the lighting was disappearing in the sun room as the evening wore on either.
Although I think this server’s proudest moment was when he convinced Amanda to relinquish her Summer Shandy for a grapefruit flavored shandy (the “Illustrious Traveler”). I had agreed to give it a try, after he talked it up to us as a nice “upgrade” from the Summer Shandy, although Amanda staunchly stood her ground and refused.
Ted: You even covered your glass when he asked if you wanted to try something new, like he was going to just pour it in with your Summer Shandy.
But lo and behold, Amanda sampled my drink, and declared it good enough to replace Summer Shandy for a round. I have to believe the server gave himself a pretty good pat on the back for that one.
All in all, we liked this location better than the original Ray’s in Kent. The wait staff seemed to be much more personable (although we can’t forget that the one in Kent did go ask the cooks in the back about the mysterious spice Shane tasted in the wing sauce that he ordered there – thus sparking the infamous “is that ginger I taste?” catchphrase for our group) and with more room to move in the place it didn’t seem as much like they were just trying to turn over tables or shove as many people as they could in and out of the room during peak times. Definitely had a great time here, and the food was good. I’m sure we’ll be back.
Picked by: Ted
Drinks: Impressive draft beer list, which seems to rotate based on month or season. Bonus points for finally sending over the server that had a real knowledge of the list and could match our tastes to the beers.
Food: A little of everything – sandwiches, salads, dinners, etc. Decent sized portions, and everything we tried was tasty.
Service: Hey, I don’t care how many guys you send over to my table to wait on us, as long as they’re all friendly and attentive I’m not complaining. (Just be sure to let the first guy out of the broom closet sometime soon, will you?)
Overall: While I wish the sun room was still a patio – since I think this would up the frequency of our return visitorship – I’d still put money on us returning sooner rather than later. It would probably be a fun place to catch a game or just have drinks while out in the Fairlawn area.
Next Pick: Shane