With a shift to counter service, lower-priced comfort food, and a focus on South Lake Union’s all-important lunch hour, Josh Henderson’s retooled Vestal opens Monday, May 22, according to an Instagram post from the chef. The caption also hints at “a few practice lunches this week” with a wink, so anyone passing by the restaurant this week should keep an eye out for soft opening specials.
Vestal in its original form was a return to the kitchen for Henderson, now a restaurateur at the helm of one of the city’s biggest restaurant groups, Huxley Wallace Collective. Critics welcomed his wood-fired flights of fancy, including lievito e pepe, a yeast- and marmite-infused play on the classic pasta dish cacio e pepe, but apparently the dining public didn’t take to the experience in the same way. Henderson told Eater in March, “People vote with their dollars. When there’s not enough votes you gotta get outta the game or change your strategy.”
As expected, lievito e pepe is one of the only items on the new menu that isn’t easy to identify; the rest is the simpler mix of burgers, club sandwiches, salads, steak frites, and charred chicken that Henderson hopes will give him a fighting chance in a neighborhood filled with Amazon workers but not yet much of a destination for other Seattleites. “I wouldn’t say it’s gonna be breaking down any culinary barriers,” Henderson said, “but it’s also the kind of food I like, and I think people will enjoy and feel comfortable in a beautiful space.”
To start, Vestal will be open Monday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., with happy hour and dinner specials to follow, as well as the possibility of brunch this summer.