January 26, 2016
Our Cheap Eats project was a welcome excuse to revisit Ray, a cafe we've long liked. I reckon it might've been the first eatery we visited sporting the exposed brick-and communal table look that's now so ubiquitous in Melbourne. Ray's popularity has motivated an expansion and minor remodel since then, though the ambience is much the same.
The menu's had something of a remodel in the last couple of years too. Known initially for its Middle Eastern tweaks to the usual brunch fare (such as dukkah-spinkled poached eggs and French toasted Turkish bread), it's now a haphazard litany of pop culture references with Oatkast and Iron Maiden sitting alongside Avocado Da Vinci. Thankfully their dietary features are clear, with plenty for vegan, gluten-free and halal eaters.
Michael took on the handsome Cob Dylan ($19.80), a generous stack of corn fritters topped with a fried egg and augmented with avocado, fattoush salad, radish, pickles and preserved lemon yoghurt.
I was momentarily disappointed not to see French toast or pancakes on the menu, but perked up when I noticed the granola and the bircher muesli were both vegan. The Pineapple Express ($13.20) seemed the best analog of the bircher I ordered in our first Ray blog post (just $7 back in '07!). It's a riot of julienned apple, mango, pineapple and berries scattered with "chilli popcorn praline" (actually heat-free popcorn crumbs and tiny toffee shards). They conceal a deceptively dense bircher that I had no hope of finishing.
Ray's once outrageously cheap breakfasts are now up at market value, and the menu's had a major makeover. However the service and setting are reassuringly familiar, and we've never had a dud meal there. We reckon it's kept its cool rather admirably this last decade.
You can read about one, two, three of our previous visits to Ray. Fellow veg blogger quinces and kale likes Ray, as do omni bloggers The Hungry Grub, BEAN HERE MELBOURNE, CHOMP AND SLURP, the coffee guide... and the hungry lawyer. Reviews are more mixed on New International Students, Available all day and mochii eats.
332 Victoria St, Brunswick
breakfast, lunch & drinks
Accessibility: There is a shallow and slightly narrow ramp on entry. Tables are quite densely packed, but there is a clear corridor through the cafe. We ordered at our table and paid at a low-ish counter. Toilets are unisex fully accessible individual cubicles.