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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

#2336 #S1182 - Westward, Seattle - 11/5/2013

View from Josh Henderson'sWestward, Seattle
Westward is the sort of place you wish you could keep a secret. The location entices you to entertain this fantasy, with it's adirondack chairs gazing over the oyster shell fire pit and across Lake Union, all safely stashed away between the warehouses and dry docks of Northlake Way. The restaurant portion of the building is not visible from the street, and even the large sign in front of the building seems to sit by inconspicuously. But as if the view and location were not already enough to get the word out (in this seaport city with a surprising paucity of good water view seating), the food and ownership of Josh Henderson (Skillet, Hollywood Tavern, Quality Athletics) are enough to shoot your would-be secret all to hell. It would be hard enough to land a couple of those great seats on the small beach on a sunny day if it was fronting a humble fish and chips shack; the odds become nigh impossible when the food has been written up in the New York Times, the decor nominated for a James Beard award, the restaurant named one of the 10 best new ones in the country by Bon Appetit, and the joint covered by every foodie blog in town.

But while snagging prime seating in prime weather is unlikely, and just finding a parking spot within a short hike can be a challenge, it's well worth it to grab a seat inside or even standing room on the patio. The decor is maritime and apparently inspired by Henderson's love of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Behind the bar is a cut-away sculpture of a ship hull featuring rows of little boxed rooms, each containing a different diorama scene -- like Wes Craven storyboards staged by the staff of Archie McPhee. Bartenders and servers sport the classic French navy blue and white striped shirts. But if it sounds overwhelmingly kitschy, it doesn't feel that way -- it retains a sort of casual elegance that would feel more familiar on the coast of one of the nearby islands.

The food and cocktails are certainly not kitschy. Far from the sort of fried fish and chips you might expect from the blue collar surroundings, the Westward menu's seafood options include items like octopus Bolognese risotto, grilled Bering Sea octopus, and quick fried east coast squid with skordalia and sesame seed pistou. Much of the menu is Greek influenced, as Henderson agreed to in hiring chef Zoi ­Antonitsas, formerly of Madison Park Conservatory. The drinks from cocktail director Allison Hagie are also quite nice, with intriguing takes on some of my favorites, including their Negroni and a barrel-aged Boulevardier, as well as the "Remember the Maine" (12 rye, sweet vermouth, cherry heering and absinthe).

It all adds up to pretty much the opposite of a secret, but it's also well worth sharing.


2501 N  Northlake Way, Seattle, WA - (206) 552-8215
Est. Sep 3, 2013 - Building constructed: 1971
Previous bars in this location: None known (Lakeside restaurant previously in space upstairs)
Web site: westwardseattle.com - facebook
Articles ranked: seattlemet - thestrangernytimes - seattletimes - surlygourmand - seattlemag - seattleweekly - foodhipster206oregonlive - seattlemet - seattletimes - seattleweekly - thestranger - urbanspoon - yelp - bonappetit
 

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