It is always a challenge when traveling with friends to find a restaurant where the menu is favorable to everyone. On this particular evening, we are excited to venture out to the Ballard area of Seattle for dinner at The Walrus and the Carpenter. Tucked away in the back of a building — you have to go through a corridor of what looks to be an office building — the main dining room is small, but the patio offers more than ample space to dine in.
We begin with Seawolf Bread and Butter ($5), delicious bread baked by Sea Wolf, a local family-owned craft bakery located nearby. I especially loved the rye, but both possessed chewy crusts, and when slathered with the exceptional butter provided, is addicting and hard to resist.
One of my friends is pretty much vegetarian, although she will eat chicken and fish. I am more than happy to order a predominantly vegetarian meal, given it is late, and I don’t like sleeping after a heavy dinner.
Roasted Fennel ($11) is strands of perfectly charred fennel paired with orange, hazelnut, dukkah, and a dollop of labneh (strained yogurt). The beautiful textures and flavors are exquisite.
Fried Cauliflower ($11) is enveloped in zesty harissa, topped with scallions, and sprinkled with black and white toasted sesame seeds. We loved the robust flavors of this simple yet full-bodied dish.
Chicory Salad ($11) is not only delicious, but works well as a palate cleanser of sorts. Hints of bitterness from the chicory, coupled with beautiful sweet and tart flavors from the charred pear vinaigrette works exceptionally well together. Toasted pepitas lend a textural crunch, while fresh mint brings it all together with a bright finish.
My favorite of the meal is Geoduck Crudo ($15) a refreshing concoction of raw geoduck slices bathed in a kaffir lime-infused coconut marinade. Espelette pepper adds heat, while fresh cilantro creates a sprightly burst in my mouth. I could have eaten another plate of this, easily!
I am a huge fan of clams, and while these Steamed Clams ($16) with smoked potato, celery, cream, and bits of Serrano ham are good, it pales in comparison to the geoduck. Still, I find myself dipping the grilled bread into the broth, not wanting to waste a drop of it.
The most surprising item is Smoked Ham ($15). My friends order this, and although I have absolutely no expectations, it turns out to be fabulous. Paired with tonnato sauce (traditionally served with veal) and dusted with caper powder, the combination of savory umami is hard to resist. We wipe the plate clean with the remaining bread, not wasting anything.
Our first meal in Seattle is a highly satisfying one. We loved the ambiance, service, and especially the food. I highly recommend a visit if you happen to be in town.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
4743 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107