A Northwest restaurant dubbed an “American Classic” by the James Beard Foundation has just completed a major re-haul including a big remodel and a big menu update.
Ray’s Boathouse has been a popular Seattle spot for years with its beautiful views and traditional Northwest seafood offerings. While things have been running great, Executive Chef Wayne Johnson tells KIRO Radio’s Let’s Eat it’s always important to look toward the future.
“We needed to not live off the last 40 years, but prepare ourselves for the next 40 years. And in doing that we needed to get a little more chic.”
Johnson explains the restaurant is really like two restaurants in one with the top floor cafe being a little more casual and the bottom floor being a little more upscale. They wanted to make the downstairs a little more hip. One of the changes was the addition of a new 30-foot bar, which Johnson says is an incredible spot to have a drink.
“You look across. You have the beautiful Olympics. You have boats floating by. The birds are flying by. There’s an eagle out there. It’s incredible,” says Johnson. “It’s an incredible place to be able to sit and have a sip.”
The revamp also included changes to the menu. Johnson says it’s still rich in classic Northwest seafood, but there’s a few new additions, and new organization. For the first time, they’re offering a tasting menu. They’re also offering shareable dishes and small plates along with their chef specialty larger dishes.
One of the new dishes Chef Johnson is most pleased with is the Pacific Northwest Chowder. They realized the menu had a Manhattan Chowder and a New England Chowder, but no chowder highlighting the Pacific Northwest’s bounty.
The Pacific Northwest Chowder features tempura razor clams, smoked salmon, fingerling potatoes and fennel. The server brings over the creamy broth that is poured over the other elements. At Chef Johnson’s description, Let’s Eat host Providence Cicero said she was getting hungry.
Johnson says all the changes are receiving a warm reception. “It’s been really received beautifully,” says Johnson. He feels they’ve hit the mark on what they needed to do to preserve Ray’s as a Northwest favorite now far into the future.