Cute, charming, and adorable: these are three words that diners are using to describe the new Narwhal oyster and seafood truck in Seattle. Narwhal is the latest venture from Renee Erickson, the chef behind Boat Street Café, The Walrus and the Carpenter, and The Whale Wins.
Narwhal operates out of a retooled Divco delivery van typically used for dairy products. It’s parked occasionally at Hilliards in Ballard and biweekly at the Queen Anne Farmers’ Market, and will likely be making its way to other farmers’ markets, corporate functions and other locations and special events. The truck will typically feature about four items at a time, including a version of the fried oysters that have earned national acclaim at The Walrus and the Carpenter oyster bar. Soup with seafood, trout salad, and toast with a fish smear are typical of the other items you can expect if you can harpoon a visit to Narwhal. Here’s a look at the menu. (Note the logo on the menu above; a narwhal is a toothed whale with no teeth in its mouth. Males develop a tusk that protrudes out of its upper left jaw.)
Fried Hama Hama Oysters with Espelette Aioli ($9). As at The Walrus and the Carpenter, five large oysters are battered with cornmeal, flour, and a little cayenne pepper. The aioli is tinged with the fruity spiciness of the AOC-protected French-origin chili pepper known as Piment d’ Espelette.
Crab Salad and Cucumber Gazpacho ($10) is made with diced cucumber, yogurt, ginger, lime, and tarragon, and has a little juice from the cucumbers along with flecks of the cucumber skin.
An order of Smoked Herring Butter on Toast ($7) gets you two slices of toasted rye topped with a smear and pickled shallots. In that smear? Canned whole herring, including bones turned gelatinous, that are whipped with butter and herbs.
The Smoked Trout Salad ($10) consists of several pieces of trout atop lentils with crème fraiche. Walnuts add crunch to the beans, while currants add fruitiness. Erickson is known for her pickled products, and here pickled red onions provide color, texture, and flavor.
(Originally published here at Serious Eats on June 26. Note that First Looks do not evaluate the quality of the food, but just give an initial glimpse.)