Night Three: Lobster Night, A Shore Thing
Trying to scout out a dining establishment that we hadn’t been to previously, we discovered Ray’s Cafe with a proud history of over 20 years of serving Spring Lake and Sea Girt, New Jersey. Mostly known for breakfast and lunch, luckily for us, they started serving dinner at the Spring Lake location a few years back.
Situated in the bustling shopping district, they are known for their Sunday night lobster specials—and guess which night we had reservations? The special runs from 5:00 to 8:00, but we noticed that even patrons who walked in at 8:00 or a little later were afforded the offer. Guess it depends how many crustaceans they have on hand…
After the previous night’s long wait at Brandl., we expected to see a crowd out the door at Ray’s (there’s really not an interior waiting area), but there were several open tables when we arrived and we were seated right away at an artistic, tile-covered 4-top, allowing for ample elbow room.
Ray’s is not pretentious or high-brow by any stretch, but rather, offers a low-key relaxed atmosphere with a sense of calm—at least on a Sunday night. Against one wall were beautifully crafted shelves and cupboards strung with mini-lights and displaying an eclectic array of artifacts. A local hangout, patrons exchanged pleasantries with the dressed-down, long-haired, affable manager.
Their menu has a variety of offerings ranging in price from $9 to $27. But we were there for the pound-and-a-quarter steamed lobster served with corn on the cob and a choice of baked potato, fries or mashed. Plus you can have either the soup of the day or a garden salad—all for only $23—what a steal! (Apparently you can get the lobster stuffed for a few extra bucks.)
While we did quickly skim the menu, we came with the mindset of ordering the lobster special, which is exactly what we did. My preference for the starter was the garden salad with house dressing, and I chose the baked potato as my side; while Russ opted for the Manhattan clam soup and french fries.
I tasted Russ’ soup which was extremely flavorful!
With a leisurely pace between the starters and the entrees, I got to see all who entered with a street view of passersby, while Russ enjoyed viewing all diners toward the back and up on platforms. But when the meals were delivered, all of our attention concentrated on the main attraction.
A plastic bib comes with all lobster orders, so Russ adjusts his before he digs in.
Elegant in its simplicity, the plated lobster arrived clutching the cob of corn in its claws, complete with a container of clarified butter and lemon wedges; our potato sides came separately. Prior to the delivery, the waitress brought bibs, shell bowls and seafood cracker utensils which we promptly put into use.
That lobster meat was so moist and succulent, we were in heaven. The corn however, for this time of year especially, was not the best—although mine seemed to be better than the Mr’s. We took our sweet time enjoying every morsel. When we asked to have the shells packaged to go, the busboy wasn’t fazed in the least. Must be a common practice for folks to take them home and make seafood stock.
Properly satiated, we brought our bounty back to the B&B to refrigerate and strolled to the town’s namesake lake to sit for a spell and enjoy our last night in Spring Lake—at least until next summer…