I don’t even know where the fuck to begin with Westward. I walked into this place and was stupefied by portraits of Bill Murray and Captain Stubing and, I suppose, other notable captains of the ship on the walls. The waiters all wear striped sailor shirts, despite the fact that this is the outfit for the FRENCH Navy which everybody thinks is staffed exclusively by pussies. And behind the bar is an impressive diorama of a cargo ship, the hold of which, we are expected to believe, holds the Abominable Snowman from the famous 1964 Rankin/ Bass Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and also the combatants from Wrestlemania IV. Requiescat in Pace Andre the Giant! We hardly knew ye!
Anyway: Westward. We started with the quick fried east coast squid ($13), and in every case I’m reproducing the name of each dish exactly as presented. The squid was lightly fried in a kind of delicate fairy’s wing fritto misto atop a fluffy mattress of mashed potatoes. Sprinkled on top was a drift of sesame and black caraway seed, and the whole thing was spritzed lots of lemon. The potatoes seemed to be strictly potato, although maybe there was some olive oil in there, but certainly not the several cups of heavy cream that I, for instance, use when I’m making some fucking mashed potatoes.
Wood baked gigante beans ($9) were deliriously satisfying. I’ve had a million different iterations of this dish and this one was great: a pile of creamy white gigante beans swam in tomato sauce amid a swirling Sargasso Sea of half melted feta cheese and a hint of cinnamon, topped with a crumbling breadcrumb infrastructure.
Potatoes cooked in the fire ($9) didn’t need to tell me that they were cooked in a fire because they looked like burn victims, but in a good way, not in the way burn victims typically look, which is totally gross. Blue and yellow marble potatoes were cooked in a lot of oil and studded with shitloads of coarse salt. This was my main complaint, actually: while the potatoes were creamy inside and their succulence restrained by a corset of crisp skin, there was almost too much salt. Like enough salt to pay a Roman general. Which is a shame because I like salty potatoes: in fact potatoes are really just vehicles for butter and salt. Sometimes ketchup. Mayonnaise if you’re a fucktard who likes soccer and pretends to understand European politics. But they just went too far with the salt.
Albacore confit ($17) was pretty good: big chunks of albacore were delicately cooked in oil, with a few chunks of radicchio on the side, a couple shishito peppers, and some grilled bread croutons. While the fish itself was actually delicious, the other stuff was lame. There wasn’t enough radicchio. We got maybe four miniscule chunks of it, and that’s too damn bad because albacore is rich, and being cooked in oil, it could’ve benefitted from the snide remarks offered by the radicchio to brighten things up. The shishito peppers could have been charred a bit more. And the croutons were billed on the menu as “grilled bread.” I was eagerly anticipating a couple slices of bread, to make like an open-faced tuna sandwich with the confit, but we got MAYBE three small chunks of bread with a thick asphalt crust that stymied my gums the way I stymie your mom.
Chilled beef tongue ($16) was generally good, but the plate was a bit too busy: four medallions of braised tongue, topped with a bushy tuft of pickled spruce needles, a smear of crème fraiche, some Dijon mustard, a scattering of pickled mustard seeds, a couple caper berries, and two slices of grilled bread. Finally, the bread I wanted to come with the albacore confit! But alas, it was too late: we already ate the albacore. The tongue itself was supple and luscious, like dry humping a silk sheet, but as was the case with the potatoes it was too salty.
Actually that’s not quite true: the medallions of tongue were shingled on the plate, and the tongue got progressively less salty the farther down we ate, so while the top tongue was too salty, the bottom piece was actually fine. And besides, when you ate the tongue with the bread, even the saltiest piece wasn’t too salty. And the crème fraiche cut the salt too. I just feel like complaining, I suppose. But I WILL say that they didn’t cure the tongue with nitrites. So it looked like a dingy dish rag. People hate preservatives but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and use it, because with nitrites braised meats looks pink and fresh, like a delicate spring blossom, but without it, it looks grey and haggard like your mom.
Butterscotch pot de crème ($7) was fucking great. A teacup filled with creamy butterscotch custard, topped with a petite quenelle of whipped cream and sprinkled on top with a few crystals of flaky sea salt. On the side was a sugary cube of shortbread.
Westward is twee as fuck. Twee like Bjork screening a Wes Anderson movie. Twee like an elf having a tea party with a squirrel and a hedgehog within a hollow tree. Twee like a midget riding a pennyfarthing. Normally I hate the word “twee” because it sounds like the noise a princess makes when she farts. The princess whose farts I’m describing is Princess Tam Tam, whose flatulence is like a lavender puff of mist escaping from between her caramel sticky buns. Her hair is spun sugar and her tits are a croquembouche, each nipple a butterscotch chip. Her thighs are creme brulee. Her stomach is pastry cream. Her eyes are white chocolate truffles, she wields a rock candy scepter, and Princess Tam Tam is the perfect match for Prince Meatyass: the union of savory and sweet that shall rule the world of flavor. “Come inside my sugar walls,” Princess Tam Tam tells you, and you of course have been waiting for this invitation for centuries, like a kid who will very soon be plundering a candy store, so how could you possibly deny her?
While not as tasty as Princess Tam Tam, Westward is good, but errors in execution marred what could have been a totally epic orgy of flavor. Still, the view is grandiose and the décor is entertaining, to say the least, so give Westward a try.
Rating: 7.5 sugar walls out of 10
Westward is located at 2501 N. Northlake Way
For reservations call 206-552-8215