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First Look: The Walrus and The Carpenter

I’ve always loved Boat Street Café but don’t get to it as often as I’d like.  The location and logistics of parking don’t appeal to me, although I think the issue is more in my head than based in reality.  Still, long stretches of time seem to pass between visits.  So, I was thrilled to hear that Renee Erickson was going to open a new place in Ballard.  Not that parking there is often any easier!  But at least it’s closer to my home and the streets are not as busy.
Last night I visited the freshly-opened The Walrus and The Carpenter with a new friend I’d met at the recent International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC).  I’ll probably mention IFBC off and on in the next few posts but for now I’ll just quickly say it was a very interesting conference and the best part was meeting and talking with so many people with similar and related interests. 
The Walrus and The Carpenter is tucked away at the back of an industrial-type building at the far south end of Ballard Way.  It’s in a refurbished former marine hardware brick building. To get to the entrance you follow a long corridor to the back of the building.  Or, you can do as I did, and wander through the Dutch Bike Company admiring all the handsome bikes and as you exit out the back you’ll be right where you want to be. 
The Walrus and The Carpenter space is both light-filled and cozy – two descriptors you don’t always hear together.  There’s a nice covered patio for dining al fresco, large west-facing windows spilling light into the interior, a row of cheery white and yellow bar stools along the steel-gray kitchen bar and a row of tall tables along a bench on the south wall.  The interior is completely open so you have a full view of the kitchen. 
The menu is an enticing list of small plates, many of them featuring some sort of pickled element, which Renee is not only known for but now sells.  We arrived during Happy Hour when the primary draw is the oyster special.  There are also discounts on wine, beer and their specialty cocktails.  Half a dozen oyster varieties were on the menu and our server gave us the rundown on each type. 
The oysters were super-fresh, as I knew they would be.  I loved the mignonette and fresh horseradish served along with them.  We shared one of the several cheese selections, the Bayley Hazen Blue which was delicious with the Boat Street Pickled Raisins served with it.  The Watermelon Panzanella was an interesting and refreshing twist on the typically tomato-based salad.  We also tried the (in-house) Smoked Trout with Lentils.  Once I’d had a bite I thought of keeping it all for myself but decided I’d just have to come back soon for more. 
I am looking forward to my next visit.  This is a place I’d love to show all my friends.  And I need to try many more things on the menu – which I’m sure will be changing with the seasons.  I predict lots of good times in this new space!
The Walrus and The Carpenter
4743 Ballard Avenue NW
In the newly renovated Kolstrand building
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