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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

August 23, 2010 at 8:40 AM

The Walrus and the Carpenter — would love it here in Ballard

The sun was shining on the sea (and nearby Shilshole Bay) when I made the acquaintance Renee Erickson’s new oyster bar, the Walrus and the Carpenter. The sun was also shining through the patio doors, casting a golden glow on the zinc bar (the province of co-owner Jeremy Price), on smiling patrons supping on seafood (among other prettily arranged small-plates) and on Renee herself, who has plenty of reason to smile these days.

Huitres? Treats.

The Cheshire Cat has nothing on Ms. Erickson, whose latest venture, open two weeks, is named for the poetic oyster-poachers in Lewis Carroll’s “Through the looking Glass” and the kind of wondrous warren I’d want to tumble down a rabbit hole for regularly.

Drink. Zinc.

Finding the Walrus (coo-coo-ka-choo!) is a bit of a trick. It’s located in the rear of the newly redeveloped Kolstrand building, south of the Ballard Avenue hub-bub, sharing space with its fraternal twin, Ethan Stowell’s Staple & Fancy Mercantile, and the Dutch Bike Co.

That’s Staple & Fancy (far left). To find the Walrus and the Carpenter, enter under the white sign, head down the long corridor and turn left.

Here you’ll find a short menu. On which you might spend a little: on, say, marinated olives ($3) and a Miller tall-boy ($3). Or a lot: perhaps a specialty cocktail like the Porch Swing — a summery spin on a Pimm’s Cup ($10), the perfect cucumber- and lemon-stoked companion to a half dozen oysters ($2-$3 each).

It’s very clear: olive is here to stay. Ditto for those oysters, though their provenance rotates (my choice: a quartet of Kumamotos and a duo from Effingham Inlet).

If you’re dining rather than noshing, and show up with a friend who’s not a big seafood fan and prefers her protein cooked (as I did), you might do better at Renee’s other effort, Boat Street Cafe. Or stop in at the Walrus first for a quaff and a bite before heading next door to Staple & Fancy, seen through the “looking”-glass-wall behind the couple in this photo.

This couple at the next table left the kids at home on date-night, shared some clams with fennel, pastis, parsley and cream, and helped us polish-off a slice of sea-salted zucchini cake.

That said, I’m convinced even the most carnivoracious companion would agree the salade Nicoise, composed with “sun-kist” local tuna, is reason alone to pay a visit. And who can go wrong with a sweet slice of melon embraced by a swath of Serrano ham?

Can don’t: oil-poached albacore adds local flavor to this salade Nicoise.

If, like my pal, you prefer your steak tartare medium-well (and served on a hamburger bun), consider instead a slice of Serrano jamon with cantaloupe, like this one.

The Walrus and the Carpenter is open Mondays through Saturdays from 4 p.m. till late and serves Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. So, anybody else been yet? What say you?

Comments | More in New Restaurants | Topics: Seafood

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