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Aug 13, 2013 10:22 AM

Walrus waits - where to spend time?

I'll be visiting Seattle and plan on going to Walrus & Carpenter in a few weeks, most likely early in the week like a Monday or Tuesday.

Can someone comment about some of anecdotal waits on these days, along with time of day putting on your name and estimated wait? For example, "I went there a few weeks ago around 6, and had to wait 1.5 hours". I see some on Yelp filtering by the word "wait" and some other phrases.

Also, any recs on nearby spots to hang out if there is a wait? It appears from Yelp reviews that you put your name down and then they call you. Is that correct? I don't mind checking out some other spots - it's my first time to Seattle. So the more, the merrier.

Thanks in advance, Seattle hounds!

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  1. Could I add to this? If we just go for happy hour, is there a wait for that also? And is the whole menu served then? I'm thinking late lunch/early dinner.

    4 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      IIRC, happy hour is full menu, with a discount on oysters and a few wines.

      1. re: c oliver

        c oliver, there is no lunch service, and they open at 4, so unless your definition of late lunch stretches that far, plan on it as an early dinner.

        People tend to line up even before the doors open at 4, but if you want to minimize the waiting time, and enjoy happy hour pricing (along with the full menu), being there before the doors open Monday through Thursday is a good strategy.

        1. re: Gizmo56

          That would be feasible for just me, but I'll be meeting up with friends from the city, so the earliest is probably 5-5:30. 6 the latest? I think I recall one Yelper saying that the crowd clears out a little after happy hour ends at 6? Not sure if that's actually correct information.

          1. re: Gizmo56

            Thanks. We're going to be there for two weeks so can plan for the best days. I guess I was thinking a combo of late lunch/early dinner. Maybe a dim sum late breakfast :)

        2. I went a few weeks ago, arriving at 3:45 and getting in at the first seating. On a Monday a few months back, arriving at 6pm got us a 6:45 seat.

          If you put your name and number down, your best option is to go right next door to the bar at Staple and Fancy. Apparently Barnacle will be opening shortly in the other next door space. Slightly further afield (up Ballard ave) is any number of places, depending on your mood: wine at Portalis, beers and skeeball at Kings, cocktails at the gerald or the sexton, etc.

          5 Replies
          1. re: dagoose

            Awesome - thanks for the feedback/suggestions, dagoose.

            1. re: dagoose

              I'm headed up there this weekend with my girlfriend and our 3 year old. Can we sit at a table with a kid and get happy hour and would it be appropriate if she's well behaved?

              1. re: porky pine

                Having been subjected to an insane wait with our 2 year old to get a table for happy hour with my SIL, I would kindly suggest somewhere else. That day they didnt have a high chair/booster and the place is small and crowded. Not my first choice with a wee one.

                1. re: venice4504

                  X2. I think your 3 year old might be quite miserable. Better to go when you can get a sitter.

                  1. re: Gizmo56

                    Maybe mobettahs to go when there's a new Next Best Thing.

            2. They were tweeting wait times a while back (last winter). Take a look. This may give you more ammo. You might try showing up at 4:45 and putting your party on the list. Was unable to find any definitive updates on Barnacle. It was supposed to be open this month.

              They will call you. You don't want to go too far or get too far into eating someplace else because when they call you really need to be back there reasonably promptly. I would say 10 minutes or less would be ideal. Staple and Fancy (which is on the front side of the building that W&TC is in has maybe six seats at the bar. They open at 5pm. The next closest place is the Ballard Loft, which is kind of a sports bar/pub. They do have a nice front patio. Just a door or two up is Ballard Pizza Co. where you could get a beer and wait. It's a nice space. Either the loft or Ballard Pizza Co is .1 mile or a 2 min walk. Hillard's, NW Peaks, and Peddler Brewing Co are about .2 miles but if you end up going M or T as planned all three tasting rooms will be closed.

              At about .2 miles or 4 minutes up Ballard Ave are MacLeod's and Conor Byrne, Scottish and Irish Pubs respectively. Just past those is King's Hardware, The Gerald (a mid century styled cocktail bar and comfort food place with good bar food) and Stoneburner. The bar at Stoneburner would be a good place to get a drink (Erik Carlson runs the bar) and a snack or small plate or two (Jason Stoneburner is also the Exec chef at Bastille). Just a bit further up I also enjoy the back bar at Bitterroot BBQ (big American whiskey list, small but good tap list). Even further up Urban Family Brewing and Public House will be open (about .3 miles or a 6 minute walk). They have house beers and a number of other guest taps (usually Belgian or Belgian styled). Across the street is another great beer bar, The Noble Fir or you could try Bastille's front and back bar. They are typically running happy hour 4:30-6pm.

              Just keep in mind that being 5-6 minutes away is pushing your luck with closing out a tab, finishing up and getting down there when they call. If they give you an hour estimate you will be fine ... unless they call you early which can happen because estimating waits is an inexact science.

              If they tell you a half hour it could be 10 minutes or 45 minutes. I am just cautioning you to stay close. I don't know that they will give your table away if you don't get back in 10-15 minutes but don't risk it. You might ask what your grace time is to get back.

              1 Reply
              1. re: klsalas

                Really appreciate all the detailed info. Will keep all of this in mind. Thanks.

              2. Full Tilt, 5 minutes up Leary, has pinball machines, beer, and wack ice cream - hope for bourbon-cornflake or mango-chile. Somebody needs to move right next door and have no lobby, just a Maître de station on the sidewalk, because this is a perfect waiting room and everybody wins. Can't lose here, anyway as Ballard Avenue and Leary are dense with curiosities and delights.

                1. Adding this here since y'all gave me good advice. We got there about 355 and there were fewer than ten people ahead of us waiting for it to open. I checked the clock and they were full inside and out at 425. But after that there wasn't much of a wait.

                  I've waiting a long time to go there but wasn't disappointed. We got a bottle of Spanish cava ($40). Dry but not too dry. Not fruity at all. We had two each of the featured oysters - Eld Inlet, Treasure Cove and Amai. Like them all but maybe the last one the best. With a tiny bowl of mignonette and some freshly grated horseradish. I skipped the latter. Then came the smoked trout with lentils, walnut, onion, creme fraiche. We both thought the trout was a bit dried out and not a ton of flavor, but those lentils were great. The most "al dente" I've ever had and just perfect. After that was the duck lardo with is served with thin slices of cantoloupe. It's a tiny serving but only $9. I made the mistake with the first piece of eating it with the fruit and couldn't taste anything but the melon. Eating it by itself was much better. Then was the steak tartare which was the best we've ever tasted. I questioned and it's strip steak, chopped by hand not ground. An egg yolk on top. We could taste/see capers, onion, parsley and some kind of hot pepper - serrano perhaps? And a quite generous portion for $12. Couldn't pass up dessert and are we every glad we didn't! It was a local peach (Rama). More questions. They put powdered sugar on it and put it cut side down in the walk in for a couple of days. Cut side up and heavily sprinkle with demarara sugar and into the salamander. Forms a great crust. Serve with an almond cream. THIS I'm going to try at home - minus the salamander.

                  We wouldn't get the trout or the duck again but saw SO many other things that looked wonderful. One the scallop tartare and the other the cured halibut.

                  All in before tax and tip was $89. It's not a cheap place but IME we got the value. We'll return. Highly recommend.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: c oliver

                    I really enjoyed seeing your photos. $89 (with $40 wine included) is actually pretty reasonable, in the grand scheme of things. Your broiler element will be a perfectly acceptable substitute for the salamander.

                    1. re: Gizmo56

                      Agreed. I was surprised honestly that it didn't crack $100.

                      I also have a small torch that I use for creme brulees. I'm thinking to cook the peaches on the grill and then finish at dessert time with the torch.

                      And it's got a great vibe with everyone completely enjoying themselves. From the looks of the crowd, I'm guessing the vast majority were locals.

                      BTW, happy hours means half off on oysters and a dollar off on cocktails. Not a deal maker or breaker.