The Walrus and the Carpenter has been on my wish list for quite some time…pretty much since it hit a bunch of top new restaurants in the country list. When I lived in Seattle, I tried to go multiple times, but was never able to get in. They are located in Ballard which is quite a ways from where I worked, and the don’t take reservations. First come, first serve, even the bar. And the list was 2-3 hours deep.
This time though, my approach was different. Being that I was there on vacation, we could get there for happy hour, which started at four, and hang out for awhile. And as luck would have it, Josh and his wife Laura were able to join us…Josh at 4, Laura as soon as she was able to get their after her last meeting which meant 4:30ish.
As we were standing in line after I made a couple unnecessary laps around the block to get a semi-close parking space, we heard the party in front of us inform the hostess that they were three with the fourth on the way. They were informed that they would not be able to be seated until the entire party was there. It was at that point that we made a quick judgment… Not knowing when Laura would arrive, and knowing we would be seated at a four top anyway, we indicated that the three of us were there. When Laura made it, they gave us a slightly disapproving look, but we didn’t take any extra seats, and the large bill and tip at the end seemed to smooth things over.
Quick editor’s note: I don’t condone being dishonest with the restaurant, but I also don’t understand the policy entirely (though am open to an explanation). If we are three with a fourth on the way, we are not taking additional tables (no three-tops existed) and we are adding additional dollars. If we were four, waiting for a fifth, where tables would have to be rearranged, then I get it. But this kind of set off a wrong tone as we spent the first 20 minutes discussing this policy and making sure that Laura could join us.
Once we got the whole seating thing out of the way, it was time to get into the whole eating thing. We started with a variety of local oysters, the only thing on the happy hour menu (half off from 4-5, 25% off from 5-6), and a round of drinks. And in what appeared to be typical Seattle fashion, my drink came out in about the most girly looking fashion (champagne flute with a twist of fruit) while Ashley’s came out looking much more rugged (copper mug). Ubuntu whatever, it was good. As were the oysters. It was interesting to here the description reminiscent of a sommelier describing wine (salty, sweet, more texture, melon finish, etc). Interestingly, I was able to taste the difference. The unanimous decision was that we liked the middle two of the four options (though of course I forgot the names).
From there we started working through the menu. As you can see in the photo gallery we had a little of everything. We started its the variety of tartares. Then moved to a few vegetables. Next were a couple of the meat dishes. And finally, we couldn’t have a meal without the dessert.
There were a lot of good things that we had, but there was nothing that was a wow! or an OMG! Maybe it was the fact that the season was changing and a lot of the menu items were running their course. Maybe we ordered the wrong things (though we tried to get a little bit of everything. Or maybe it was the hype that was built up (and the size of the check at the end). But overall we left dinner feeling disappointed…a consensus opinion of all 4. The highlights were probably the oysters and the drinks which isn’t saying a ton. Again, I’m not saying that it was bad by any stretch, but if I would have waited for 2 1/2, I would have been let down. If you can get in right away, go for it. If you are told it is a 3 hour wait, I would go somewhere else…there are plenty of great restaurants in Seattle.