Posts Tagged ‘Oysters’

The Walrus and the Carpenter – 6/14/11


Location: 4743 Ballard Ave NW


Mon-Sun: 4pm-close

Happy Hour:

Sun-Thurs: 4-6

For months now various friends have urged us to go to The Walrus and The Carpenter, the new oyster bar next door to Staple and Fancy at the south end of Ballard Ave. A few weeks ago we decided to make Walrus and Carpenter our choice for our monthly anniversary dinner.

J left work early so we could make it there just after they opened at 4pm. We figured it might be a little crowded since Walrus and Carpenter received a favorable mention in a travel piece about Seattle  in the New York Times but it was early on a Tuesday so we thought it would be okay. We were wrong. The small, airy space was already packed.

The guy at the door gave us a choice, either wait 45 minutes for a spot to come free or sit outside on the small, 4-table patio. Even though the weather was cool, cloudy and breezy, we chose the patio since they provided ample overhead heat. I have no problem suggesting eating on the patio when it’s open. We were quite comfortable.

The Service:

See that dapper gentleman with the handlebar mustache in the NYT article? That’s who waited on us. He was friendly and quite helpful. When J asked for his opinions on the oysters available, he told us about some of them and brought us a selection of his personal favorites. He even laughed when J made a joke about his choice of drink. Great service.

The Drinks:

We each chose a drink from their specialty cocktail menu. J ordered the Mustache Ride, bourbon, cynar, allspice liqueur, maple and lemon. He said it didn’t taste like it had alcohol in it. It went very well with our meal since it was so light and refreshing.

I chose the Porch Swing, gin, pimm’s, lemon, limonata and cucumber. I pretty much had the same reaction as J. The drink was delightfully light and lemony and complimented the seafood we chose for our meal.

The Food:

The Walrus and the Carpenter specializes in oysters and small plates so we chose bread, a couple of small plates and dessert along with our oysters.

First, simple Bread and Butter with olive oil and sea salt. We received slices of a light rye and a heavier wheat both very nice. The olive oil used with the butter was very mild with just a hint of sea salt.

Our first small plate was the Salmon Tartare, apple, mint, roe and horseradish crème fraiche. Amazing. Even if you don’t like oysters, go to the Walrus and the Carpenter for this dish. The salmon was fine sushi grade. None of the ingredients overwhelmed the others. Each bite was a delight with the tart apples adding a nice texture to the softer elements. Just lovely.

The second small plate was an Octopus Consommé with blood sausage and a poached egg. J does not usually eat octopus so he was glad when the bowl came with no visible evidence of octopus. The consommé tasted salty with just a hint of the heavier flavor of octopus. When broken, the poached egg gave the broth a body, much like an egg drop soup, while the blood sausage added a mineral flavor. Definitely a dish made better when all the ingredients were combined.

At this point our server brought out a tray of his personal favorite fresh oysters. This batch were three types from British Columbia: small Kusshi, the slightly larger Golden Mantle and a group of Efingham oysters. We found these oysters to be light and fresh with a strong ocean taste. Very different than the raw oysters we’ve tasted other places. I preferred mine with just a small squeeze of lemon juice. J enjoyed his with the champagne mignonette and fresh shredded horseradish they provided. Either way, these were delicious.

Since the first selection of oysters were so tasty, we decided to choose another dozen, this time a selection of Washington State oysters, Eagle Rock, Penn Cove and Hama Hama. We’d tried most of these oysters before but it was nice to have to chance to compare them with the British Columbia varieties. The Washington oysters definitely had a heftier, meatier and a butterier flavor and texture without the strong taste of the sea. They were very good but we both preferred the Canadian oysters, especially the Kusshi.

Out of sheer curiosity, I chose the Medjool Dates with olive oil and sea salt for our dessert. This dessert was a complete surprise. The dates came to the table very hot in a pool of the mild, almost sweet olive oil that had been included with the bread and butter earlier. Quite unexpectedly, the combination of sweet date with the olive oil and sea salt created a distinctly salted caramel flavor. A delicious end to a truly exceptional meal.

The Price:

A note about the Happy Hour prices: From 4-6, specialty drinks are $2.00 off. From 4-5, all oysters are half off. From 5-6 all oysters are 25% off.

Mustache Ride: 9.00 (7.00 at Happy Hour)

Porch Swing: 9.00 (7.00 at Happy Hour)

Bread & Butter: 3.00

Salmon Tartare: 12.00

Octopus Consommé: 10.00

Medjool Dates: 8.00

Effinham Oysters: 4 @ 2.00 ea (1.00 Happy Hour Price)

Golden Mantle Oysters: 4 @ 2.00 ea (1.00 Happy Hour Price)

Kusshi Oysters: 4 @ 3.00 ea (1.50 Happy Hour Price)

Eagle Rock Oysters: 4 @ 2.00 (1.50 Happy Hour Price)

Hama Hama Oysters: 4 @ 2.00 (1.50 Happy Hour Price)

Penn Cove Oysters: 4 @ 2.00 (1.50 Happy Hour Price)

The Verdict:

Hands down the best gourmet meal we’ve had for less than $100. The quality of the food and drink mixed with the great Happy Hour pricing makes it completely worth getting there early. It was a lovely, delicious meal that we will probably repeat even before this project is done. The service was great. The atmosphere even out on the patio was laid-back and friendly with other diners asking for suggestions. Great, amazing food. Refreshing, creative drinks. One of the few meals in this project that didn’t have at least one misstep. An exceptional meal all around. We will go back.