The wall of sea captains at Westward. It's still a work in progress with more famous mugs on the way.

We've been anticipating Westward and Little Gull for a while now for the kick-ass patio space, the water-inspired and seafood driven menu, and the awesome crew on board. And finally the opening of Josh Henderson’s restaurant and grocery is right around the corner on September 3.

Located at the north end of Lake Union at 2501 N Northlake Way, the space has a yacht club vibe in hues of watery blues and whites. Refurbished sailboat sail light fixtures hang over the dining area, and a Life Aquatic-esque boat diorama serves as both back bar and something to hold your attention if you end up on a really boring date. Though with all the nautical magic and even a wall dedicated to paintings of famous boat captains, I don't see how you could ever be bored here. All you blind date setter-uppers take note. 

Here are five reasons to don your favorite pair of high waters and boat shoes and head Westward, ho.

“Ain’t nothing to shuck with,” reads a sign above the Little Gull grocery area. And ain’t nobody going to shuck with shucking champion David Leck and his crew of “ big salty dogs” running the oyster bar. They sure do have that look of a surly boat crew in need of a pint, all beardy and tatted up with anchors and tridents. Leck plans on having 12 oysters of classic varieties with a pink peppercorn mignonette, and add-ons of housemade cocktail sauce and fresh horseradish are available per your request. The oyster bar has two tap beers, currently pouring Guinness and Portage Bay pilsner.

A seafood menu with sparks of worldly flare by chef Zoi Antonitsas. Formerly the chef de cuisine at Madison Park Conservatory and past contestant of Top Chef, Antonitsas finds inspiration for her menu in the watery surroundings. She’s cooking up seafood and hearty meat dishes with glimpses of her Mediterranean heritage in ingredients like tahini, Aleppo pepper, and grilled halloumi cheese. This especially shows in a colorful plating of wild salmon gravlox with beets, a labneh (strained yogurt), and za’atar (a mix of Middle Eastern herbs). A smoked manila clam dip, quick-fried squid, and “plateaus” of shellfish and such will be some of the signature dishes. 

Holy balls, check this view. Yeah. It’s pretty spectacular. Looking south, the city skyline shines off the shimmery water framed by boats of all shapes and sizes. If there's a wait time for a table, the patio area offers a place to enjoy a glass of wine and nibbles of fried chickpeas or radishes with goat butter—all while lazing in an Adirondack chair. There’s also outdoor seating at long wooden communal tables for about 30 guests, and another 70 or so seats inside surrounded by the nautical-themed styling of the Huxley Wallace Collective

A world-class crew is manning this ship. It goes without saying that Henderson knows what he’s doing, hello, two Skillet locations with mobile, and now the Hollywood Tavern in the works. David Weeks, long time member of the Tom Douglas team, is heading the front of house staff as general manager. And cocktail designs are by local spirits expert Maggie Savarino. Food and drink pairings should be spot on, since Savarino previously worked along side Antonitsas at Madison Park Conservatory. A friends and family training was in full effect when I visited, and the staff looked festive and fresh-faced in their blue and white-stripped shirts. And if you’re a seasoned Seattle diner, you’ll be hard pressed not to recognize at least one of them.

If you’re lucky enough to own a boat, you’ll never run out of wine mid-sailing again. Just pull up to the dock, an on staff boat hand will greet you, tie you up, and escort you in for dining at Westward or for a quick stop for reinforcements at Little Gull. The grocery offers a large selection of bottled wines (lots of bubbles caught my eye), fresh baked Columbia City bread, cheeses, and a fancy smoked olive oil, among other treats. You can even order whole oysters to go, and save the shucking for yourself aboard the vessel. Calling in orders ahead of time is welcome, as well. And I welcome any invitations aboard a vessel heading to north Lake Union anytime soon. 

Barring any other fireworks related boat storage facility fires, Westward and Little Gull will be open on September 3 with lunch and dinner hours to start, and brunch hours to follow soon. Keep tabs here on Facebook

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