First Look: Mediterranean Fare on the Water at Westward in Seattle

Wild Salmon Gravlax“Intriguing spaces and thoughtful food.” That’s the slogan of the Huxley Wallace Collective, which recently opened Westward on Northlake Way by Lake Union in Seattle. I’ve driven that stretch of road along the lake for nearly 15 years, and never have I envisioned a restaurant like this in such an idyllic setting, with all seats offering a view of the water and the city. An intriguing space indeed—and an example of how far Huxley Wallace has come since the popular Skillet Street Food truck started traveling to neighborhoods serving burgers with bacon jam years ago.

You can pull up to Westward by bike, car, or even boat, as there’s a dock available. Those spending a day on the water can grab beer and wine, charcuterie, and other snacks (plus wool blankets) from the Little Gull Grocery inside the restaurant. Little Gull also has a 22-seat oyster bar overseen by champion shucker David Leck.

The head of Westward’s kitchen is Chef Zoi Antonitsas. Tapping into her half-Greek heritage, Antonitsas says the restaurant’s mission is to create “contemporary Mediterranean, water-inspired food.” (We’ve already given a First Look at Westward’s water-inspired cocktails.) In addition to nibbles like fried chickpeas and marinated olives, expect a variety of fish and seafood dishes prepared with Mediterranean flavors, with emphasis on a fresh, seasonal, and healthy approach.

Read on for a look at eight dishes I tried at Westward shortly after its opening.

A Dozen Shigoku Oysters

At the oyster bar in the Little Gull Grocery, a dozen Shigoku Oysters ($36) served up with fresh-ground horseradish and a pink peppercorn mignonette made with equal parts of Champagne vinegar and Banyuls vinegar.

Clam Dip with House-Made Potato Chips

For the Smoked Manila Clam Dip with House-Made Potato Chips ($11), clams are steamed then smoked in a wood oven. There’s Greek yogurt and house-made aioli in the dip, which is topped with smoked paprika to enhance the smokiness.

Wild Salmon Gravlax

The Wild Salmon Gravlax ($13) is a play on an everything bagel, with a smear of labneh topped with za’atar behind the salmon and beside the bread slices. Slices of beets and a streak of beet puree complete the dish.

Grilled Halloumi Cheese

Grilled Halloumi Cheese ($13) is like a watermelon and feta salad, but with halloumi (made from sheep’s and goat’s milk) replacing the feta and offering curd-like squishiness. Pistachios add crunch, and the dish rounds out with Urfa biber chili (from Turkey) and mint.

Day Boat Octopus Bolognese

Here is the Day Boat Octopus Bolognese ($19). In this version of the classic Italian dish, octopus is braised in white wine, chilled, and then ground and added to a savory sauce that includes marjoram, chili, and aioli. (You get more octopus flavor than texture with each bite of the house-made tagliatelle.)

Wood-Baked Gigantes Beans

Wood-Baked Gigantes Beans ($9, made with large white lima beans that are rehydrated and braised) get their flavor from tomatoes, feta, marjoram oil, a topping of bread crumbs, and a “secret” ingredient: a touch of cinnamon.

Braised Oregon Lamb Shoulder

The Braised Oregon Lamb Shoulder ($28) is like a deconstructed gyro, arriving with grilled pita and a scoop of tzatziki. An herb and onion salad offers a fresh counterpoint to the meat.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

The Chocolate Olive Oil Cake ($8) is flavored with Amerena cherries, Theo Chocolate’s cocoa nibs, and a sprinkle of sea salt. A quenelle of whipped cream completes the plate.

(Originally published at Serious Eats on September 10.)

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