A look at the new Ray’s Boathouse

Ray’s Boathouse’s downstairs restaurant is now reopen after their four-month closure for remodeling. The space has been completely revamped, and now features a large glass-enclosed bar that breaks up the restaurant into two separate dining areas. On top of the full renovation, the menu has been completely changed.

North dining area

Rory Kelleher with design company Mallet Inc says the idea was to open up the dining area so more tables could enjoy the view of the water. They ripped out the old booths that ran down the middle of the restaurant, and now have several small tables scattered around two large dining areas on either side of the bar.

South dining area

The south dining area now has an outdoor deck that wraps around the side of the restaurant. (Correction: The outdoor seating area has not yet been approved for public use)  The outdoor area should be open by spring, and will seat up to 40. The glass enclosed bar has stunning views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains, and the cocktail list features several nautical-themed rum drinks, such as Anchors Aweigh, Two if by Sea, and the Captain’s Grog. The restaurant featured cocktails before the remodel, but previously, the bartender was in the kitchen, mixing cocktails behind closed doors. Now, the bartenders are perched next to the best view in the house.

The bar is intimate, with a red glow under the Chris-Craft boat deck-inspired bar top, a theme Kelleher says is constant on each table throughout the restaurant. Glass walls on the north and south ends of the long bar help eliminate some of the noisy bar sounds.

View of the glass-enclosed bar from the north dining area

On top of the big structural changes, the restaurant underwent a complete menu overhaul. Keeping only the “sacred cow” dish, the Sablefish in Sake Kasu, Executive Chef Wayne Johnson says the menu has been changed to be “more global.” In that vein, new dishes include the Butter Poached Lobster Tail with lobster paella, a Braised Lam Osso Bucco with root vegetables and cous cous, and an Herb Crusted Beef Tenderloin with beet salad. They’ve incorporated a small plate menu with crab cakes, chowder, and salads, and now have a five-course tasting menu that will be changed every couple weeks.

Ray’s closed in October for the remodel, the first big structural change in a few decades. A fire in 1987 burned the boathouse down to the dock, ten days after General Manager Maureen Shaw took over. She says there hasn’t be a major change like this since the rebuild in the 90s 80s, and is thrilled with the new look. When asked why they chose to add a bar, Shaw said it was time to catch up with the rest of Ballard and reach a younger demographic. The bar hours will be 5 to 9:30 p.m. during the week, and open until 11 on Fridays and Saturdays.

To check out the new menu, visit Ray’s Boathouse website.

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