Seattle has been having a pretty good year when it comes to the big-n-glossy national press. GQ named Zig Zag the best cocktail bar in America (and Needle & Thread 25th). Food & Wine tagged Jason Stratton of Spinasse as one of the best new chefs of 2010. And then there was Jason Wilson from Crush bringing home the James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest (which isn't really a press, thing, but it was certainly written about plenty). We got some of our local blogs mentioned as the best. And at least one of our cheeseburger joints. And then there was that list of the country's best cult restaurants...
But now, GQ's Alan Richman has come out with his annual list of the best new restaurants in America--a highly competitive round-up of everything from everywhere--and guess what? Seattle has made the cut again.
Can you guess who got picked as #6?
Yeah, the picture really was kind of a giveaway, but it was The Walrus and the Carpenter--Renee Erickson's new place down in Ballard which backs up to (and kinda looks in on) the other new place down in Ballard, Ethan Stowell's Staple & Fancy.
Richman's list included such spots as Lincoln in New York (which people just can't seem to stop talking about), Flour + Water in San Francisco, Uchiko in Austin, Commis in Oakland and--in a double hit for the Pacific Northwest, Gruner in Portland, whose write-up starts with the line, "What's a restaurant like this doing in a place like Portland?"
Here's what he had to say about The Walrus and the Carpenter:
"A pitch-perfect oyster bar, and more. You walk down a long hallway to a half-hidden door where a cheerful young maître d' seats you in a room that's joyous, lively, and oh so cramped. It's filled with the same diners who eat pork belly in New York City, except they're slurping oysters here. The Walrus and the Carpenter feels like a throwback to an earlier era of Seattle dining. It reminds me of the once wonderful Pike Place Market, long before it got touristy and bland. Atop the zinc bar are wire baskets filled with chopped ice and fresh oysters. (I liked the Skookums.) There's so much else: fried oysters thickly breaded and accompanied by a cilantro aioli. Beef tartare with raw egg yolk. Silken chicken-liver mousse with pickled chanterelles and pickled apricots. And my favorite savory course, smoked trout with pickled red onions on a lentil salad studded with walnuts. The panna cotta was so light I was thinking of eating a half-dozen portions, the way I ate a half-dozen oysters. This kind of restaurant should define Seattle dining, even if Seattle is always striving for fancier digs."
And okay, so there are a couple back-handed compliments in there. But still, the love is there, and just making this list to begin with is a massive accomplishment all on its own.
To read the rest of Richman's picks, you can check out the whole story right now at GQ.com.