Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Pacific Northwest >
Aug 26, 2007 09:31 AM

French at Cafe Campagne or Seafood at Ray's Cafe?

We are two Bostonians who plan to take our Seattle hosts, two dear old friends, out for a not overly fancy dinner on Labor Day. We like seafood but the endless debate on the Seattle board regarding where to get somewhat reasonably priced yet good seafood has each of us confused to the point where we're ready to scrap the seafood idea entirely (We get lots of seafood in Boston and just got back from Cape Cod where we consumed vast quantities of very good seafood) and instead head to Cafe Campagne for some French bistro food.
Lastly, if we do return to the seafood idea, is Ray's Cafe (recommended by a Seattle Hound we ran into on the Cape) a bad idea?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Ray's has a great view and the food is OK, but not outstanding. It is where we locals take our out of town relatives. This whole seafood thing, when you are on a coast, is overrated----great seafood is flown into all major cities and then it is up to the chef to prepare it. Cafe Campagne has character, local color and good food---and the area it is located, Pike St. Market, is wonderful to explore.

    1. ray's cafe (upstairs) offers rather mundane food in a spectacular setting; the cuisine downstairs is much superior though you must sacrifice the deck. cafe campagne is a good choice for bistro food as is le pichet around the corner. for a "not overly fancy dinner" you may want to consider steelhead diner across the street from campagne which gives interesting interpretations of american classics using local products in a most informal venue.

      1. Cafe Campagne is good but it's just cafe food, so it's not particularly unique or "Seattle." I do like CC but if I wanted French I would go to Le Pichet nearby-it's someplace that really makes me feel like I'm in Paris.

        Go to Matt's in the Market! Great space, somewhat unique, good seafood (and other meats), and almost everyone loves it.

        Ray's cafe (upstairs) is okay, but not great--it does have a great deck and cheap happy hour food, which is why a lot of people go. The main Ray's restaurant I've heard has been very good lately (per recent reviews).

        The Steelhead Diner idea is a good one, too, if you are going to skip the seafood.

        1. Just a quick note, you say you've done seafood recently on the Cape, but Seattle seafood is WAAAY better than most of what you have out in Boston.

          I lived in Cambridge for a few years, and I rarely felt the seafood there was anywhere in the range of what we get out here in the PNW.
          Try fresh dungeness crab and tell me it doesn't beat the crap out of lobster.
          (Oysters were great and I loved the fried clams though)

          7 Replies
          1. re: GreenYoshi

            i think it depends where you eat. Dungeness crab is definitely a must-have if you're visiting out here. Seafood places that are popular in Cambridge (such as East Coast Grill) are definitely a step down from Seattle, certainly (and the same may be true about places out on the Cape), but the seafood at places in Boston proper like B&G Oysters/Neptune Oyster, Troquet, Sorrelina or Clio (or even the monkfish marsala w/ squid ink tagliatelle at the humble Daily Catch in Boston)) can be as good as the seafood at, say, Crush in Seattle. And the fusion-y sushi/sashimi at O-Ya in Boston is a level above anything similar in Seattle (sadly). Seattle does have some great oysters like the Virginicas but now is not the best season for those unfortunately. Mussels here are great too. (I agree on the fried clams and would add Nantucket bay scallops).

            1. re: barleywino

              Jack's Fish Spot, in the Market, has a fresh crab cocktail for a quick good taste of Dungeness. Oysters on the half-shell, too.

              1. re: barleywino

                pssst, Barley, you seem to have alot of Mass. cred. Can you weigh in on this?:

                1. re: equinoise

                  Equinoise, unfortunately I don't know Falmouth and vicinity at all....i've heard good things about Floating Rock (Cambodian restaurant in Revere) from reliable sources but can't vouch for it from personal experience (also it's north of Boston whereas Falmouth and the airport are south). If you have time MOnday night before your flight you could consider any of the places I mentioned in my post above (especially O-Ya, Clio or the oyster places mentioned (which have more than just oysters btw), or even just soup dumplings at some place like Taiwan Cafe), but i don't know how much time you have before you depart...sorry i couldn't be of more help!

                  1. re: barleywino

                    Thanks anyways. I'll keep Floating Rock in mind if time allows for it-the place looks awesome. My wife and I are big fans of The Elephant Walk and its related cookbook, and Cambodian/Khmer food in general. The name Floating Rock alone almost merits a visit. If you hear anything else let me know.

                  2. re: equinoise

                    Setting aside the lobster vs. Dungeness crab debate, this Bostonian suggests you consider trying The Cape Sea Grille, in Harwich Port and not all that far from Falmouth. The worst thing about the place is the "e" on the end of "Grille'. Another thought, if you have time to drive to the outer Cape (a more scenic and less honky-tonk area than the upper Cape), I'd recommend our favorite place in Wellfleet: Mac's Seafood, on the Wellfleet pier, where you eat top notch seafood seated outside at picnic tables. It's a BYOB place with great lobster, steamers, and Wellfleet oysters. In addition, nice sunsets are included at no extra charge.

                2. re: GreenYoshi

                  GY --
                  Since I have been lucky enough to have had truly great Dungeness crab many times both in San Francisco and in Seattle, I don't see the point of comparing Dungeness crab to East coast lobster. Both can be terrific but fundamentally they're different. For me, the exercise of comparing the two is as pointless as comparing Dungeness crab to stone crab. Different beasts, different tastes and I love them both. Since they're each wonderful in their own way, why bother forcing a comparison when you can enjoy each for what it uniquely is?

                  Trust that we agree on hoping that Seattle beats the hated Yankees for a play-off spot.