The Upper Richmond Road is awash with cafes and coffee shops, so it didn't surprise me in the slightest when another one opened its doors a few months back. I did wonder - and still do - whether the independently owned Ray's would survive for long with such strong competition from well-known chains nearby. Still, it seems to be doing OK so far.
What struck me initially about Ray's is how non-pretentious it is, with its simple signage, printed menus in the window and straightforward reasonably-priced food on offer. The interior has been nicely done and feels bright and homely to sit in, but it is not too try-hard, which is refreshing. There is a bookcase filled with old books to pick up and browse; you can even take one with you if you fancy and replace it with a book you no longer need.
The food on offer might be straightforward, but it is excellent quality all the same. The menu states that they use on average 80% organic ingredients in their baking, as well as free-range eggs. I have been to Ray's a couple of times now and both times I ordered the falafel wrap - it takes about 10 minutes to prepare because it is made to order from scratch rather than made in advance and left to go dry. It is perfectly fresh and delicious! Other choices include sandwiches, toasted paninis, jacket potatoes, plus breakfast and brunch offerings. They serve a selection of homemade cakes too, as well as hot and cold drinks.
One hot drink on the menu, and something the owner is very proud to sell, is coconut oil coffee priced at £2.50. Apparently the health benefits of coconut oil are massive and the trend to have it as part of your diet is growing fast. The first time I went to Ray's, a fellow diner couldn't believe they had it on their menu, exclaiming this was the first place outside of central London that she had ever seen it served. Now, whether this is true or not I cannot say, but I tried the coffee none-the-less and with just a hint of coconut in an otherwise normal cappuccino, it is surprisingly tasty.
I do hope that Ray's stands the test of time, as it is is a lovely little cafe in the heart of bustling East Sheen. It is a very welcoming rest-stop, and child friendly too with highchairs available and kid's books on the shelf. The nearest train station is Mortlake, and there are regular buses passing along Upper Richmond Road. Ray's doesn't have a website (it is far too straightforward for that).