The Walrus & The Carpenter

Written by on September 25, 2016 in I Eat Seattle, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Old Ballard neighborhood, Seattle, Washington

The Walrus & The Carpenter Horizontal

How I heard of this place: My now sister-in-law raved about this new restaurant soon after they opened. It took half a decade, but I finally made it!

Type of cuisine: Intent on creating a fun, lively, and approachable oyster bar in their back yard — a neighborhood place where the very best in food and drink would be served in a cozy, welcoming setting — friends Renee Erickson, Jeremy Price, and Chad Dale began work on The Walrus and Carpenter in the winter of 2009.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Oysters on the Half Shell

With a lot of help from friends and family ‘The Walrus’ took shape. Artist Jeffry Mitchell illustrated the drawings that now hang on the walls in the dining room. Tim Price, Jeremy’s father, built much of the cabinetry and furniture in the space. Renee’s brother and her father, Ryan and Jim, laid the brick patio. Renee and Carrie Omegna, a very dear friend, and now our Beverage Program Manager, found the rusty, metal, coral-like, chandelier that is The Walrus and the Carpenter’s centerpiece, in an antique yard, in the dirt with weeds growing through it, in Los Angeles. Finally, in the summer of 2010, The Walrus and the Carpenter opened to the public.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Oyster Trough

Local and national praise soon followed, and today folks come from near and far to eat and drink at The Walrus and the Carpenter. Even so, ‘The Walrus’ remains a neighborhood spot — a friendly, often bustling, always casual, place to enjoy icy cold piles of oysters, delicious plates, wines by the glass, beer, cider, and smart cocktails.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Fried Oysters 2

Ambiance: Set in an old hardware store, the remains of an entirely different era, the building’s limited signage can easily be bypassed.

The Walrus & The Carpenter

Breezy, airy, bright in a dockside establishment sort of way, The Walrus & The Carpenter is a bustling, hipsters paradise. A rustic entry through a long hallway, notable only by brick wall and paited signage with arrows reminding patrons of where they are headed.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Hallway Signage

Fascinating artwork adorns the wall leading to the tall, glass French doors of the small establishment.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Artifact Art

Lines are already present just after 4:00 p.m. when the doors of the restaurant open to the public.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Doorway

We make our way through the doors, greeted by no one, yet immediately smiling upon seeing the sunflowers on the entry barquette.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Entry Podium

A huge bread basket, wooden counter of items ready to be taken to their awaiting diners stand ready at the front of the kitchen/bar space, crammed into a small corner of the white, driftwood-y space. The infamous antique chandelier present overhead.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Kitchen/Bar

A small patio is available for diners sharing a (likely) quieter meal over hushed conversation,

The Walrus & The Carpenter Patio 1

as opposed to the bar seating in the bar, where music blasts from every corner, conversations competing from stool to stool, patron to patron.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Kitchen/Bar Again 3

Interesting, simple artwork, attracts little attention, though the food certainly has reason to take the spotlight.

What I ordered: My birthday dinner, a friend and I split the tapas small plates brought to us at the bar. To start, housemade sodas for each of us; ginger for me, spiced pear for her.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Ginger & Spiced Pear Sodas

My choices included the Roasted Broccoli with Fingerling Potatoes, Celery, Pork Fat Aioli ($12),

The Walrus & The Carpenter Roasted Broccoli & Potatoes

and the Roasted Cauliflower, emmental, boquerones, bread crumbs ($13).

The Walrus & The Carpenter Roasted Cauliflower

For my dining companion, a selection of three middle-range (on a saltiness scale) oysters on the half-shell at market price ($): Samish Pearl: Penn Cove Shellfish, Samish Bay, Washington; Sea Cow: Hammer Hammer Oyster Co., Hammersley Inlet, Washington; and Hammersley: Calm Cove Shellfish Co., Hammersley, Washington.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Oysters x3

We were both interested in the Black Cod Ceviche in a coconut curry with jalapeño and beet chips.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Black Cod Ceviche

And the additional Cured Salmon, Mole, Sungold Tomatoes, Cucumber ($14) to round out the meal.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Cured Salmon with Mole

Because it couldn’t be overlooked in an oyster bar, and the cilantro aioli sounded just fabulous, I treated myself to Fried Oysters with a Cilantro Aioli ($14), half of which she quickly downed (despite “hating fried oysters“, I may add),

The Walrus & The Carpenter Fried Oysters

and a combination cow/sheep Enchante from Black Sheep Creamery in Chehalis, Washington, served with rustic French bread and a peppered honey.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Enchante

What I loved: My choices, obviously. The top being the Roasted Cauliflower, followed closely by the Roasted Broccoli. The herb-y cilantro aioli perfectly complemented the corn-mealy, lightly fried, gooey oysters, though of the Fish & Shellfish, the Black Cod Ceviche truly stole the tastebud show.

The Walrus & The Carpenter Black Cod Ceviche 2

Why I loved it: Though loud and overly crowded, no reservations taken, and an air of pretentiousness from the young man who seated us, the food is stellar, fresh and flavorful, the service from the kitchen friendly and unrushed, and the space itself curious and interesting.

Cost: High ($4 – $16 per small plate)

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