There are some chefs whose cooking just hits the spot for me. Renee Erickson is one such chef; her Frenchified dishes at Boat Street Cafe have a rustic unfussiness that comes off as tasting so effortless. I’ve enjoyed many a candlelit dinner, and too many brunches to count, in the chic hideaway on Lower Queen Anne. And so when it was announced that Erickson would be opening an oyster bar in Ballard, tucked behind Ethan Stowell’s latest restaurant (Staple & Fancy Mercantile), where the walls would be washed in white and the draw would be oysters (my weakness), well.
Happily, I can report that the food and the cocktails are as good as I’d hoped. The Walrus and the Carpenter, which opened in July, has a one-page menu with salads, what I think of as “assembles”—Serrano ham shaved over apricots with pistachio pesto ($10), zucchini with walnuts and ricotta ($8)—and more substantial dishes such as peppery steak tartare ($12), silky on the tongue, alive with mustard.
I dove into a plate of five superb fried oysters ($8) kicked up with a chili-flake- and chive-flecked coating. I plucked fresh clams from a pastis-scented cream broth ($10). Of course, I started this cavalcade with a dozen oysters (varieties/prices change with the seasons) and one heck of a cocktail: the Elderflower Fizz ($10), a refresher singing lightly of Lillet and dry from a hit of gin.
Ballard, 4743 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.395.9227; thewalrusbar.com. $