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Oct 17, 2013 01:00 AM

The Walrus and the Carpenter or The Whale Wins?

Which restaurant would provide a better experience for dinner? I will only have a couple of nights in Seattle. I am not a fan of long waits but I would be willing to do it if The Walrus and the Carpenter is truly worth it.

I'm also considering Poppy and Staple and Fancy. Which two out of the four I've listed would you choose and why? Is there something comparable and fantastic I have missed?

Thank you!

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  1. I was wondering the same thing... In looking at The Whale Wins it seems like they're not offering oysters, which seems like one of the main items Renee Erickson is known for.

    Anyone have comments about what the wait is like at Walrus if you get there early? How early? Is it lessening now that it's getting into Autumn or is demand not at all seasonal?

    1 Reply
    1. re: aguyindenver

      I was at Walrus in late July on a Wednesday, right in the middle of tourist season. I got in an already long line at about 3:40 and was able to grab a seat at the bar with few seats to spare. I doubt that a party of more than 2 would have been seated at my place in line. If you are going outside the summer tourist season, maybe that line in shorter. on the other hand, they had an outside seating area that may not be in use if you are going in winter. the one thing I noted was that by 6pm or so when I left there was no line at all.

      As to the food, I highly enjoyed it. Fried oysters, fantastic grilled sardines and a wonderful corn and cherry tomato chilled chowder. Finished with a roasted apricot shortcake with sabayon. Well-made cocktails as well.

    2. I believe Whale Wins offers few, if any, hot dishes. The one and only time I went, foods were room temp. While I know what to expect at Walrus, Whale was a bit of a MEH.

      10 Replies
      1. re: firecracker

        I will be going in Dec or Jan, so hot food would definitely be better. Thanks for responding, the choice looks clear now.

        Does anyone have any feedback about Poppy or Staple and Fancy?

        1. re: Quince

          Are you eating solo? I like Staple & Fancy for four or more people. It's family-style and you get to try more stuff that way. Poppy is good for eating alone because you get so many little things on one plate. W&C too, if you are alone, the portions are small and you could try a few different things (and maybe have a better chance at a seat at the bar)? I like Whale Wins okay but wouldn't go out of my way for it.

          1. re: sweetpotater

            Actually, Staple & Fancy is great for small numbers, too, as you can still get the Fancy menu and get a ton of different foods while only paying for one meal. Fancy menu says it's 4 courses, but the first course is an assortment of plates and bites.

            1. re: sweetpotater

              I just checked since it's been a couple of years since we were at S&F. They do still have an a la carte menu. We were there with our adult daughter and there was no way we could finish all the food but they were great about packaging up leftovers.

              We went to lunch at W&C and it was fantastic. But even for lunch the place was filled up within 20 minutes of opening. We were about third in line at quarter til.

              1. re: c oliver

                Walrus is not open for lunch. When it first opened they had Sunday brunch but that was discontinued It opens at 4pm. Incidentally they also cut happy hour on Sundays. Happy hour is M-Th 4-6pm. Last winter they were tweeting on wait times -- particularly when there was little to no wait. The problem is that can change by the time you get there. In any case there have been no tweets on wait times recently.

                1. re: klsalas

                  Slap palm to forehead!!!!! I guess cause we got there at 345 and it was a late lunch for us :), I 'mis-remembered.' Thanks for setting everyone straight on this.

              2. re: sweetpotater

                There would only be two of us dining. It sounds like we could still do the fancy menu at S&F though, although maybe it would be a lot of food?

                On the other hand, what about How to Cook a Wolf or Anchovies and Olives?

                1. re: Quince

                  Most of what we took home from S&F were the apps which I seem to remember came out eight'ish or so of them in two batches. It was obvious we were going to have to rein ourselves in :)

            2. re: firecracker

              Had a super MEH night at Whale Wins last Sat. night and I wish I had known about the temperature situation before. Is this a well-known thing? If not, I'm surprised they don't mention it on their website...

              What little food we got was OK: large clams had maybe 3 fingerling potatoes total but red sauce was good, pork shoulder was seasoned well but pretty fatty, and the lamb tartare was quite good.

              However, the service was a perfect storm of bad. They forgot our roast chicken and instead offered to comp some desserts. We repeatedly had to flag down other servers to get the bread we ordered (after waiting an acceptable 15 minutes or so for it) and another bottle of wine. We were seated by the sink in the far back of the restaurant and a couple of glasses were broken right on top of us with no word from anyone, so we called it a night.

              Really hoping it was an off night. For now, waiting for the Walrus seems to be the much better option.

            3. If you go to Walrus now there is the adjoining Barnacle (also owned by Erickson) to handle some of the overflow. I usually get there at 15-20 minutes to 4pm but I have stopped going regularly because of the crowds. The wait won't be as bad off season but it is always busy.

              Whale is beautiful food -- a bit like Bar Sajor from Matt Dillon. It is Pacific NW/ French/ Med influenced small plates with house pickled vegetables, cured meats, pates and other room temp dishes. What is cooked is cooked in a single woodburning oven. it is true though that a lot of food is room temp. It is like beautiful picnic food (I wish I could take credit for that observation but read it in a review). Despite the name it does not have the oyster bar focus of Walrus.

              I do love the adjoining Joule as well and also in Fremont I love Revel (by the owners of Joule) and very much enjoyed Agrodolce by Maria Hines (of Tilth). A new up and comer near by with great views and decor and seafood focus (including oysters) is Westward on North Lake Union. Went there last week and had a great meal. It feels a lot like an Erickson concept but it is run by Josh Henderson (Skillet).

              I like Poppy which is a kind of thali meats Pacific NW concept but I find myself never craving a return trip. Staple and Fancy is restaurateur and award winning chef Ethan Stowell's flagship restaurant. I love its space and creative Italian/Pacific NW food (it shares the first floor of the great Kolstrand building on historic Ballard Ave with Walrus and Barnacle). It is one of the best critically reviewed places in town.

              1. I liked W&C very much on a recent visit. I was seated outside on a warm evening. If I had to sit inside, I would never have eaten there. I wanted to have a conversation with a friend. The noise inside was deafening.

                3 Replies
                1. re: RandyB

                  I didn't even notice the noise. I wonder if one of us had an unusual experience.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    It's lively for sure. It is small space with a lot of people packing in and has an old open joist wood ceiling. They like to play music which is not over the top but they play it at a level that you can hear it with the crowd noise.

                    1. re: klsalas

                      Agreed. But it's not like it's a bar where there are people just standing around. Everyone is seated and the capacity isn't very big at all.