Younger sibling of The Red Cray in Belmont, this popular BYO eatery was jam packed by 7.30 on a mid-week night. Jam packed because who can pass up their special of a plate of fish and chips for $15? You pay as much for a takeaway!
Situated next to the IGA on the corner of Beaufort St and 2nd Ave, you enter through the small arcade. A multi-hued back-lit bar to the right of the entrance is a colourful surprise as you enter.
The large expanse of glass windows encircling the Red Cray allows bright sunshine to fill the place until the sun starts to go down. A few on our table of six were dazzled by the setting sun shining directly into their eyes, and this made things a bit uncomfortable. This problem could be alleviated by installing a few more retractable blinds. This issue was solved when the sun went down, and was overtaken by another issue – the noise level. When we first arrived at 6.30 with only a few tables occupied, the atmosphere was peaceful. By 7.30 however with a full house, the noise level was deafening. We could only hear the person next to us talking; there was no hope of having a conversation with the peeps at the other end of our table of six. I am really puzzled as to why restaurants don’t install sound absorbers to offset some of the noise. The Red Cray is one of the worst I have experienced as far as noise level goes, and it spoiled an otherwise positive dining experience.
Now for the fun part; the food. We weren’t expecting much for $15 fish and chips, but two on our table chose the special which was an NZ Hoki fillet with chips. Both declared it a winner with the grilled fish fresh and moist, and and the chips crisp and perfectly cooked.
Bypassing entrees so we could leave room for dessert, the six of us went straight for the main courses. Two of us opted for the tasting plate comprising two seafood dishes along with chicken tenderloins. Salmon carpaccio, deliciously succulent scallops topped with avocado salsa, and moist lemon pepper chicken tenderloins comprised the $26 plate. This winning combo, listed as a shared entree, also serves as a fabulous light main course for one.
A half lobster, grilled and drizzled with butter and parsley, was the remaining choice of main dish for our table. Fresh, moist and unadorned, this is how lobster should be eaten.
We finished off with chocolate lava cake, panacotta and affogato. The desserts were sublime, and not a crumb was left. Well, we hadn’t eaten entrees had we?
The food at The Red Cray was uniformly delicious, and the service professional and attentive. No complaints there at all. From what we could see of other tables, all of the food being served looked equally good. Although many people probably come in because of the fish and chips special, no doubt they are tempted by the array of other seafood delights on the menu. There are also meat dishes to satisfy the carnivores.
I’d love to return and sample some of the other seafood dishes, but I’d hope to choose a night with fewer people and less noise. If you can’t have a conversation with your friends above the din, you’re missing out on a good part of the whole dining experience.