In March, Josh Henderson revealed that he was temporarily closing Vestal to retool and take the six-month-old restaurant in a new direction—a more casual one. Dialing back the rather ambitious concept for a more accessible one, Henderson says this version of Vestal is what it’s supposed to be. Or put another way, he says, “I'm more club sandwich than I am foie gras.”
What that translates to is quick, casual counter service at cafe prices. The menu has truncated into four clear-cut categories, offering burgers and sandwiches—yes, even that club sandwich, cut into quarters with salad or French fries at center plate—plus entree salads, pasta and such, and sweets. A customer favorite, the lievito e pepe has stuck around. This take on cacio e pepe, made without cheese but plenty of marmite butter and nutrional yeast, doesn’t suffer menu erasure so easily. Also still around: cedar plank salmon and caramelized white chocolate cake.
In its more approachable form, the menu isn’t overwrought but Henderson says the flavors are still complex and they’re still using that wood-fired hearth forever more. Chicken will come charred and served with jus and a side of salad and (also grilled) bread.
While Vestal originally was billed as a place where Henderson’s return to the kitchen meant cooking his own food, now it seems to be a place where just downright likes being: “For me, from a personal standpoint, I enjoy this type of restaurant more.” As it so happens, it appears that South Lake Union diners may agree with him and this now very lunch friendly space. He also cites “letting your ego get out of the way” as part of the journey to this retooled Vestal.
As for the talented Andrew Iacono, he’s at Huxley Wallace Collective sibling Westward, cooking up dishes on the other side of the lake.
Vestal reopened today, May 22, with hours Monday through Friday, 11:30 to 8.