Dispatch from Seattle: O Oysters, Come and Walk with Us!

After about four days in Portland earlier this fall, my colleague Jenn and I snagged a ride with our rather  gallant co-worker Dave to Seattle, to tour the Boeing factory and see our company's offices there. It seemed silly to rush off - neither of us had been to the Emerald City before. So we stayed an extra day. Here was the view from our plum, lakefront rooms at the Courtyard by Marriott Lake Union:

Not too shabby, eh?! That first day was just what you expect and want from the Pacific Northwest: drizzly, cool, and grey. But for our special bonus girls' day, we had sunshine and warm fall temps, which we took advantage of by walking all over the city.

Pike Place Market was cool:

But coolest of all was dinner at The Walrus and the Carpentar, a place I had seen on the Cooking Channel and that appeared in many of the best of lists I checked out when researching Seattle.

This tiny place in the city's Ballard neighborhood is famous for long lines and no reservations as well as phenomenal shellfish, so went went early and were able to snag the last two seats on the restaurant's sunny patio. The menu here focuses on oysters and seafood in general, and its menu changes nightly.

Jenn went for a tasting platter of all that day's oysters, and then we shared a bunch of other plates. She was bowled over by the freshness and gorgeous plumpness of every one, but particularly impressed by three varieties, which she concentrated on for her second plate.

She also ordered cauliflower beignets, which capitalized on every essence of sweetness inherent in this cruciferous veg. The stars of bagna cauda dipping sauce/foam, made with anchovies and olive oil, but tasted savory and complex and light rather than greasy or salty, and stole this show. It crossed my mind to lick that stuff directly off the plate.

I liked the scallop tartare, but with the beet purée, there was a little too much sweetness to this dish. The scallops, raw and minced, were flawless, peerless - clean and sweet. That's probably why the beet flavor didn't work with this, for me - I needed something to anchor the dish and balance out the sweetness, and neither the purée nor the cucumber slices could handle the job. The roe should have been the salty element, but it just wasn't quite enough to bring the flavors home for me. It was pretty though:

My foie gras torchon was much more successful, translating salt and fat in the most refined way, with impeccably creamy texture and that unquantifiable richness only foie can communicate. The brunoise of sauternes gelee (that's wine jelly for us rubes) was my favorite part - its tart acidity and sweetness perfectly countering that expanse of luscious offal. My only complaint: not enoug crusty bread!

Dessert was required. Because we said so! I like bread pudding, and this is hands-down, the best one I've ever had. There was some maple syrup in there, which was fine, whatever. But the kicker was the espresso butter moat surrounding the tender, moist bread custard. It was deep, rich, sweet, butter and I had a fleeting inclination to suck it up into a syringe and inject it straight into my bloodstream. I probably would have had to order a second dessert, though, because I didn't have a drop of this slamming sauce to spare. It was delectable. Cue me, in my kitchen, trying to replicate this wonder for the holidays.

Our dinner at The Walrus and The Carpenter was surprising in its spare, simple qualities as well as in its decadence. None of our dishes was complicated - each one was presented simply, with three or four ingredients arranged artfully and employing impeccable ingredients. This is modern fine dining, in a completely casual environment. Our waitress was totally cool, explaining dishes to us, chatting about the Walrus' sister restaurants and all the fame this one has garnered, and fun facts about celebs eating there. Overall, it was a pretty great experience, and if you're visiting Seattle, I would recommend a meal at this or another Renee Erickson joint. She actually has a place much close to where we stayed, on Lake Union, that serves a braised lamb shoulder with tzatziki sauce as an entree. TZATZIKI!!! Would that we had had another night in town to try that!

We had an absolutely lovely day in this beautiful city, and I can understand why people visit there and stay forever. It's like California for people who like cooler weather. It's a foodie city with enough weirdos to maintain a humble attitude, and enough wealth to add some good sparkle. I could grow to like it here. My personality is big; my hunger is bigger! 

The Walrus and the Carpenter Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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