Previewing Josh Henderson’s Westward – Chef Zoi Antonitsas


Josh Henderson of Skillet and Chef Zoi Antonitsas, previously with Madison Park Conservatorypreviewed dishes from the soon to open South Lake Union restaurant Westward at The VUDE Saturday night.


You know I love The VUDE, I’ve written many posts about my amazing dinner experiences there.  This time was no different…yet it was…

A group of women foodie friends bonding, eating, laughing, and laughing and laughing…

A woman chef sharing her beautiful and flavorful cuisine creativity and food passion (and a little 80s Flashdance devotion side conversation inspired by my silk side-zip tunic…this conversation would not have transpired with a male chef I’m almost SURE)…

It really DOESN’T get better than this!

You know the drill by now, and if you don’t, read my VUDE posts and then go sign up for special invites to experience it yourself.  For now, here’s a brief intro:


Cocktails and wine…

Food experienced…

Let’s get started!



Homemade Vermouth and Tonic with a purple flower blossom floating happily and a lime wedge helped me set a happy, colorful tone to start the night and catch up with friends as we mingled around The VUDE‘s large tables.  Cheers!


Pass the GOAT butter and smoked salt topped radishes , PLEASE!


I find radishes…well, a bit boring.  I’ll eat them sliced on a salad and appreciate a little added crunch and color.  Other than that, I find them a bit snoozy.

THESE radishes, however, were anything BUT snooze inducing.  Take a crunchy chunk of fresh radish and slather it with GOAT butter and smoked salt and suddenly I’m a radish worshiper.



A little salty…

MORE please.  MORE!!!!!

Luckily a few people in my group didn’t fall to my radish alter and I scarfed down more than my fair share.  So grateful for the “radish haters”!



Time to sit, sip and eat oysters and salmon.  OK…I’ll just say it.  Oysters and salmon just aren’t on my list of favorite foods.  No backlash, please.  If you love them, take me to eat with you and it means you get more…



Oysters, rhubarb, and pink pepper…

Whatever the taste and texture,  the relish was a beautiful, colorful sight to behold!  Food{ie} coloring LOVE!  I’m still willing to “share” my oysters.

And, about that salmon and “favorite food list” comment…


That was until I tasted Chef Zoi’s salmon.

I’m a convert!  Forget the over-cooked salmon.  NOW I know how salmon is supposed to be eaten.  Fresh!!!  WOW!  Beautifully divine!!  Delicate, sweet, no harsh “fishy” flavor.  YUM!!

And that yogurt sauce…

De Light Ful!!!  Creamy with crunchy toasted flavor accessories made my taste buds sing a new salmon love song!

Chef Zoi!  I’m coming in for this one!!



I didn’t read ahead on the menu this time.  You’ll see why later in the post, but how fun to be surprised with each course…

Except when a friend spoiled the duck egg appearance and left me anticipating egg goodness to come.

Egg Collage


The anticipation was duly satisfied when this diva of a dish came to the table before me!  I mean come ON!  If this isn’t the most colorful and fun dish you’ve ever seen I don’t know what is!  It’s ALMOST my favorite color quad…




and Turquoise!

Even without the key turquoise ingredient, this dish was a standout!  Everyone around me loved it!  We ooohh’d and aaaahh’d incessantly as we expertly cleared our plates of all hint of the beauty that originated.

Another one I’m going in for when Westward opens!

Honestly, I’m not sure I can wait that long.  Chef Zoi, do you need any tasters?  I’m available.  Call me…


Octopus Risotto topped with a squid ink aoli was hearty and flavorful, but unfortunately much of it went uneaten.  In no way due to taste, purely based on the heaviness of the dish and the predecessors and main courses to follow.

Must.  Leave.  Room.

On a wet and chilly Pacific Northwest evening, this would be the perfect dish to curl up next to a fire with.  Warm and satisfying with complex flavors that will keep the body and taste buds warm for hours.



As we moved towards the Main courses, a bit of fullness set in and movement called.


Lamb dish prep was in progress when we arrived.

Lamb…my foodie happy place.

Chef Zoi and her team in action, plating my beloved lamb.

Lamb Collage

By the way, the lamb and chef kitchen exchange was the scene of the “Flashdance” flashback crime…Can I say that Chef Zoi is an amazing chef, but also a really cool person you immediately like and want to eagerly support in her food passion!


When West, meets South…

The lamb course came paired with VUDE owner’s other venture, Hand of God Wine Malbec from Argentina.  I am a fan of the Hand of God wines.  Usually preferring the Malbec and Syrah blend to the pure Malbec.

Not tonight…


Chef Zoi’s lamb dish was, in my Hand Of God Malbec drinking experience, the best pairing I’ve tasted.  With some previous dishes, I’ve found the Malbec a bit complex.  The food and flavors not quite expert enough to take this wine where I’ve always wanted it to go.

Tonight, that changed!  It was perfectly smooth and had flavors I’d never experienced before.  I hope Westward pours the Hand of God Malbec and recommends it as a pairing for this dish.

And the dish itself…

Juicy, flavorful and full of smokey goodness.  Adding the subtle creamy sweetness of the puree was an added bonus to expertly raised and deliciously prepared lamb.  Definitely a dish I’d eat again.

And, I’m not just saying that because I have a lamb addiction…



Finishing up the evening, a few “sweet and savory” treats and my FIRST Rainier Cherries of the season.

Cheese & Cherries

Cherries, Kurtwood Farms warm, melting cheese, and bread with a great soft and crunchy texture mix.





A beautifully served soft panna cotta with light but dynamic flavors.  A light and sweet way to end the meal.

And, a wonderfully special meal it was!

Each course lovingly explained by Chef Zoi and unanimously enjoyed by my dining team.  I mean, come one, when a friend posts this on Facebook at the end of the night, you know it was a good meal:

“Yep, drove home with my pants unbuttoned. That good.”


Bravo and CAN’T WAIT for Westward to open so we can see what else Chef Zoi is cooking up for us!

Thank you Josh, Zoi and The VUDE for a wonderful foodie night of delightful tastes and memorable food experiences!

Oh, but this is The VUDE, so we aren’t done yet…

There are always bonus perks at The VUDE.  It’s like a Ginsu Knife commercial…”But wait…you also get…”


Chocolates!!  Any venue that sends me home with chocolate is a friend of mine forever!  Giving me NEW chocolates to taste…well, we’re approaching BFF status!

Look at that adorable packaging!  More COLOR…

And that chocolate!  While I haven’t eaten it yet, if the eye candy quantifier is any indicator, this little bite size beauty is going to make me VERY happy this week!

Restless Chocolates is a small company that started this year in Seattle. According to their website, they “have a unique point of view with our chocolates, creating flavor combinations that can’t be found elsewhere”.  Restless owner Hilary Brown was on hand to introduce her chocolates.  Good luck Hilary!!

That wasn’t the only goodie I went home with, either.

I’m a big fan of good design.  Good design to me is an advertisement of the creator’s passion for what they do.  Tonight, I was surrounded by passion.

Look at this collection of the evening’s designs.  How much better can it get?  Beautiful blue and white graphic Westward menus lovingly “fastened” with a satin ribbon.

My motivation for having a “surprise” dinner throughout the night.

A Westward branded pouch and notepad decorated the table when we walked in, complete with a pencil that matched the pouch’s drawstring.

Menu Collage

A burlap gift bag containing the Restless Chocolates care package…_MG_0211

It all came together perfectly and inspired this textile and design lover!

Take note…


Westward is coming with an exciting menu, and with the expert attention to details in the dishes, menu design, and goodie bag I think we can expect great things for a long time to come.

Welcome to SLU, Chef Zoi!


Checkout Westward online for updates on opening dates.

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Westward on Urbanspoon

One Response to “Previewing Josh Henderson’s Westward – Chef Zoi Antonitsas”
  1. Lorrie Cardoso

    It was an amazing night and you truly captured the essence of the evening!

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