An article penned by Frank Bruni inspired The Astronomer and me to bus it to Ballard for dinner at The Walrus and the Carpenter. We had a beast of time scoring a table at the adorable seafood shack, but everything was smooth sailing after that initial hurdle. Our meal here turned out to be not only the most memorable of the trip, but one of my favorite of the year. Seafood and cocktails—what could be better?
Located in the newly restored Kolstrand Building, The Walrus and the Carpenter is the vision of Chef Renee Erickson (Boat Street Café, Boat Street Pickles) and her partners Jeremy Price and Chad Dale. Together they’ve achieved their goal of building a restaurant serving the “highest quality food and drink in a space that is stripped of pretense and feels like home.”
The Astronomer and I were seated along the back of the restaurant with views of the elongated bar and open kitchen.
To get things started, I sipped a well made “cherry margarita” ($9) consisting of blanco tequila, lime, honey syrup, and cherries, while The Astronomer enjoyed a “Henry’s old fashioned” ($9) made with rye, orange peel, bitters, and a brandied cherry.
We also ordered a serving of bread and butter ($3) from the “Pantry” section of the menu. This was the second meal on the trip where we were served rich butter drizzled with grassy olive oil. I’m digging this local trend.
Next came the oysters, one of each from the day’s selection served with a wedge of lemon, horseradish, and a mignonette.
There were local “Samish Sweets” from Samish Bay, “Eagle Rocks” from Totten Inlet, “Barron Points” from Skookum Inlet, “Baywater Sweets” from Thorndyke Bay, and “Amai” from Discovery Bay. The only oyster from outside Washington state was the “Effingham” from Effingham Inlet, British Columbia. Each one was slippery fresh, briny, and oh so slurpable.
From the “Garden” section of the menu we tried the Shunkyo radishes ($8), which were shaved thinly and coated in plenty of brown butter. Bright orange salmon roe added a salty pop to every bite. These three unexpected ingredients married together seamlessly.
After finishing my first drink, I ordered a Moscow mule ($9) at the suggestion of our waitress. Made of vodka, ginger beer, lime juice, and sliced ginger, this refreshing cocktail had spice and pizazz.
The next dish to hit the scene was the grilled sardines topped with shallots, walnuts, and parsley ($8). The smoky and meaty little things soaked up the garnishes and packed a wallop of flavor.
The house smoked trout ($10) was another highlight of the meal. The fish had a subtle but splendid sweetness that paired well with the pickled onions, lentils, walnuts, and crème fraiche.
The Astronomer went for a can of Wittekerke ($3), a Belgian wheat beer, once he finished the old fashion.
Cheese paired with honey is one of my favorite combinations, so I had to order the Bellweather ricotta with Ballard bee honey and black pepper ($8). The cheese was creamy dreamy eaten alone and even more special with the honey.
The final savory course was a diver scallop tartare with lemon, black pepper, and basil ($12). When you’re working with scallops this fresh, it doesn’t take much to make them shine.
Winding down the evening, we shared a bay leaf panna cotta topped with a wild blackberry compote ($8). I’ve added bay leaves to various stocks and soups over the years, but never experienced them in a leading role, let alone a dessert. The tangy topping kept the custard from veering too far toward the savory side. We really appreciated this interesting and delightful dessert.
If I ever were to own a restaurant, I’d want it to be just like The Walrus and the Carpenter. There is little more pleasurable in this world than watching the sun slowly set while sipping cocktails and noshing on beautiful plates of seafood.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
4743 Ballard Avenue Northwest
Seattle, WA 98107
There’s more the eat in Seattle:
- Dahlia Lounge – Seattle
- Delancey – Seattle
- For the Love of Orangette
- Frost Doughnuts – Mill Creek
- I Don’t Think You’re Ready for this Jelly
- Local 360 – Seattle
- Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream – Seattle
- Pike Place Chowder – Seattle
- Sage Cafe – Seattle
- Salumi Artisan Cured Meats – Seattle
- Serious Pie – Seattle
- Steelhead Diner – Seattle
- Street Donuts – Seattle
- Sweet Iron Waffles – Seattle
- The Crumpet Shop – Seattle
- Top Pot Doughnuts – Seattle