The Walrus and the Carpenter
4743 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107
Dining date: 11/6/14
I had one free evening on a quick business trip to Seattle, my first time to the city. Seattle’s got a ton of interesting restaurants and it was a difficult decision narrowing down to one. In the end, we decided on The Walrus and the Carpenter, Renee Erickson’s 4 1/2-year old oyster bar. The no-reservations restaurant has been consistently popular since its beginning, but we were able to squeeze in for an early dinner table after a 20 minute wait.
As expected, the focus here is on seafood particularly oysters. A large variety are always on hand (9 on this evening) as well as a bounty of other seafood small plates. A handful of garden, pantry, meat and cheese plates round out the menu.
5955 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Dining date: 1/16/14
I’ve generally considered Providence one of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles since it opened in 2005. I first had chef Michael Cimarusti’s food at downtown’s Water Grill in college and followed him here. This was my fifth visit overall, but my first in about 3.5 years. I’m not totally sure what took me so long to return, but part of it was the fact that my last two visits didn’t live up to the high expectations created by the first two. Providence is consistently in the conversation of top special occasion fine dining restaurants in the city, so it’s a place I like to stop in every so often.
Cimarusti has been a busy man since my last visit and has presumably spent progressively less time in this kitchen, especially with the opening of Connie & Ted’s last year.
A number of menu options are available. A three course a la carte is $95, while 5-course and 9-course market tasting menus are $105 and $140, respectively. At the highest end, a chef’s tasting menu is available at $195 per person. We stuck to middle ground, ordering the 9 course market menu.
Woodhouse Fish Co.
1914 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115
Dining date: 12/27/13
Known for its fresh seafood, Woodhouse Fish Co. has been a long-time popular option in San Francisco. Two locations exist, in the Castro and in Pacific Heights; I’ve passed by the Pacific Heights location numerous times to see some good-sized crowds waiting for a table at the walk-in-only restaurant. Sometimes you just want to scarf down some fried seafood and a lobster roll, right? I knew that Woodhouse Fish Co. would come in handy exactly for that craving. Coincidentally, it happened on my last evening in San Francisco during this recent holiday trip.
The menu is pretty simple and straightforward, resembling a New England seafood shack mixed with California influences. Three types of clam chowder, fried clams, crabcakes, crab and lobster rolls, fish & chips, fish tacos and cioppino are some of the options. Prices are reasonable, particularly for San Francisco standards. Getting there around 5:45, our wait for a table of four on this Friday evening was about 45 minutes.
Fishing with Dynamite
1148 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 9/15/13
Leveraging the success of his popular Manhattan Beach Post restaurant, chef David Lefevre opened Fishing with Dynamite on the same block earlier this year. This new restaurant is more seafood-centric, reminiscent of Lefevre’s Water Grill days. Whereas many expected M.B. Post to be a seafood restaurant (bringing Water Grill influences to Manhattan Beach), it turned out to be more balanced featuring bold, full flavors. From my experience, Fishing with Dynamite seems to be more finessed with more subtle flavors.
Not unlike M.B. Post, Fishing with Dynamite has been packed early on. I snatched a weekend lunch reservation weeks in advance; lunch and dinner menus appear to be the same. A varied raw bar and seafood platters are available, as well as a combination of both “old school” and “new school” dishes.
Connie and Ted’s
8171 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Dining date: 8/4/13
Connie & Ted’s was one of the most anticipated restaurant openings in LA this year, opened in June. Having made a name for himself at downtown’s Water Grill and his Michelin two-starred Providence, Michael Cimarusti’s name has become synonymous with high-quality seafood in the fine dining space. With Connie & Ted’s, Cimarusti takes his upscale cooking background and relationships with high-quality purveyors into a more casual, more approachable restaurant inspired by New England seafood shacks.
7837 Herschel Ave
La Jolla, CA 92037
Dining date: 6/15/13
Brian Malarkey’s been a busy man in San Diego, having opened six restaurants in the area over the last two and a half years (with one closing recently). Aside from being a young chef/restaurateur, he’s probably best known for his appearance on Top Chef (season 3) and for being a judge on ABC’s The Taste alongside Anthony Bourdain, Ludo Lefebvre, and Nigella Lawson. Herringbone is his lone restaurant in La Jolla (which was convenient considering my family and I were there for UCSD’s graduation weekend), while fellow Top Chef alumnus (and former Water Grill executive chef) Amanda Baumgarten is the executive chef at this seafood-centric spot.
The restaurant is large and kind of beautiful, with huge windows providing a glimpse into the kitchen and whole trees playing a part of the interior decor.
The menu features a raw oyster bar, a handful of hot/cold small plates, pizzas from a wood-burning oven (sort of unexpectedly), and about a dozen large plates balanced between land and sea.