I don’t know if any of you are Alice in Wonderland fans, but I vividly remember the Walrus and the Carpenter scene from watching as a small child. The dancing baby oysters sadly tricked into following a dastardly walrus and a terribly sad and expected ending. Of course, thinking of how delicious oysters are, I don’t wish to vilify the walrus too much.
Despite the ending, I’m a sucker for a good literary reference; I was giddy to find one of the best restaurants in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle cleverly referencing Lewis Carroll! After 9 years, Seattle’s The Walrus and the Carpenter is still one of the most sought-after restaurants. With a James Beard Award-winning chef and local and national acclaim (including many many lists for best seafood and oyster bars in the country), The Walrus and the Carpenter was a must-not miss for us.
After hearing about the wait (sometimes up to 3 hours), we decided to get there at 3:30 to ensure that we had a spot. Luckily, we were first in line for their 4 PM opening. The restaurant quickly filled to capacity by the time we left at 5, which is terribly impressive for any restaurant and speaks to the caliber of the food.
The restaurant had a beautifully decorated nautical interior, matched with marble tables (perfect for food photography) and lots of beautiful open windows. Once we sat at our table, the waiter explained that the restaurant functioned similarly to any tapas restaurant; all plates were small and best for sharing!
We started with a house soda, a mandarin orange soda, which was a perfect accompaniment to the freshness presented through the meal. The sodas change with each season, much like the menu.
Though we came for any delicious seafood dishes, our main goal was to try some of Seattle’s best oysters. I am, admittedly, not a great authority on oysters, so I let our waiter steer us to some of the “sweeter” oysters on the menu. These oysters were some of the freshest oysters I’ve ever tasted. Vaguely reminiscent of the sea with the slight tang of sea water, they were beautifully succulent.
Next, we tried a local cheese (Dinah’s) from Vashon Island, Washington, paired with a local honey and freshly baked bread. We absolutely loved the flavor of the cheese and the honey (one of the most underrated combinations in my opinion) but quickly moved on to our favorite plate of the night: fried oysters.
Anything fried is good. However, to make something that is fried spectacular is a talent. These oysters, breaded in a cornbread, were otherworldly. They were enormous and bursting with flavor; in combination with the cilantro aioli, it was hands down my favorite dish.
We ended our dream of a dinner with a scallop crudo and snap peas dish (currently, they have a spot prawn crudo on the menu). Again, I loved the freshness of the seafood. The scallop was tender and sweet and paired with the firmness of the snap pea, it was an incredible dish.
Though we were sad to leave (especially knowing that we wouldn’t be graced by another meal like that in a long time), we left knowing that we had fully experienced the best that Seattle has to offer in oysters and seafood. And though the baby oysters didn’t dance out of the ocean, following a walrus to the dinner table (like Carroll pictured), we still had a great time.
The Walrus and the Carpenter (4743 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107 // 206.395.9227)