By Ron Bernthal
In 2014 Bon Appétit magazine named Westward one of the best new restaurants in the U.S., but even before I had anything to eat I had reason to love it. Located on the north shore of Seattle’s Lake Union, this rustic, wood building is hidden from the street by foliage, and was difficult to find on a dark, rainy night. Shipbuilding and repair yards border the property at each end, a testament to this area’s still vibrant fishing industry, and the view from the restaurant’s outdoor patio (and most seats indoors) is of the glittering Seattle skyline on the other side of the lake.
The serene waterfront setting, with a dock and umbrella-covered tables that are much coveted by diners in warmer weather, is just one part of Westward’s unpretentious charm. Inside the low-ceiling dining room with a nautical theme are about a dozen tables, a chef’s counter facing the kitchen and, in a separate area of the room, the Little Gull, a 22-seat oyster bar where guests can order freshly harvested Washington State oysters and ice-cold beer. Outside, by the dock, are more tables, many of them communal, and the strings of little bright lights swaying above the crowd makes Westward seem more like a small Greek island taverna than a city restaurant in high-tech Seattle.
Chef Zoi Antonitsas serves a Mediterranean-influenced menu, using Northwest fish, like Idaho river trout and sockeye salmon, locally farmed vegetables, beef and lamb, and home-made desserts. They also prepare great small plates, depending on what’s in season. I had an excellent octopus appetizer as well as small plate of squid with sesame seed pistou.
Lunch, dinner and brunch menus change frequently, what chef Antonitsas purchases in the morning is served that day, and her Greek roots are unmistakably noticed in the marinated olives, grilled halloumi cheese, mussels served in a broth of harissa and ouzo, potatoes cooked in the Applewood-burning oven, seasoned with Greek oregano and lemon, and the wonderful loukoumades with lemon curd and poppy seeds for dessert. There is a nice selection of Greek wines, Washington State craft beer and hard cider, cocktails, excellent coffee and about ten various aperitifs from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, all reasonably priced, and all a perfect ending to dinner or lunch.
2501 N Northlake Way
Seattle, WA 98103