The Walrus & the Carpenter: Fix your FOH. (Also, Volterra check-in.)
Feel the need to call out The Walrus and the Carpenter for terrible front-of-house management last night. My better half & I were looking forward to trying this place. We expected a long wait on a Saturday night so when we were asked to leave our phone number and told 80 minutes, we were ok with it. No problem, we just popped up the street to Hattie's Hat for a few drinks.
Returning to W&C at the appointed time, we were studiously avoided while trying to make eye contact with the host to get an updated estimate (it had been 90 minutes at this point and it looked like only 3 or 4 groups had turned.) After the second time we were deliberately ignored at the host station (despite being at the front of the queue and at one point actually raising a finger and saying "excuse me") while a group behind us asking the same question was solicitously addressed, we left.
I was pissed off that we had taken a cab to Ballard for this when we could have gone to Elliott's and had great oysters without the velvet rope attitude. Sure, it wouldn't have been hip and the rest of the menu would have been dreck, but we would have been treated better and wasted less time. There are too many great places to eat in this town - and new ones opening constantly - for us to bother returning.
Walking up Ballard Avenue, we ended up revisiting Volterra (where we had last been some 3 or 4 years ago.) The place was full (with a much older crowd than W&C) though it being 9pm by this point we managed to get a table. Service could not have been a starker contrast. We were well taken care of by the hostess, server, and sommelier. We ordered 3 dishes to share in courses (guanciale & potato salad, orrecchiette with lamb ragu, and veal ossobuco) and they arrived already split up (as they should.) The wine recommendation (a very nice young nebbiolo) was spot on. I just wish the food had been up to the standard of the wine and service. The potato salad was fine, the lamb ragu needed a kick (a pinch of red pepper flake would have been hit the spot) and the ossobuco was just meh (tender but oddly granular in texture and without a lot of flavor, accompaniments nothing special.)
Hattie's Hat Restaurant
5231 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107
5411 Ballard Avenue NW, Seattle, WA 98107