Cork+Forks: Pasta Lafayette And Pinot Blanc

Wet autumn days call for Row House Cafe, a cozy cabin around Lake Union.

I’m really critical of coffee shops and cafes. Sure, they provide free Wi-fi when I need to get out of the office space also known as my apartment, and they let me buy a $2 Americano and sit there for three hours. All the freeloading freelancer stereotypes aside, a good cafe comes down to the simple things: the coffee, the environment in which you drink it and the music that fills the air while you drink it.

Camouflaged by excess foliage and surrounded by duplicate homes, Row House Cafe usually requires a second gander from passersby. Roughly one year old, the bistro is warm, comfortable and reminiscent of a lakeside weekend cabin from your childhood. For warm weather days, the wrap-around patio is a prime rendezvous spot. Inside the bistro, each room is tucked into its own world of mismatched furniture and themed decor; one room is furnished entirely with mirrors, while another features a wall-length mural.

Owner Erin Maher told Seattle Met last year that she believes coffee shops to be “mini urban resorts” for urbanites in need of solace. The ambiance of the cafe straddles the line between charming and cluttered. The result is a purely homey atmosphere — the ideal solution to autumn gloom. The menu reflects this soul of the cafe; Row House’s offerings are straightforward, satisfying and warm.

The Dish: Pasta Lafayette, the cafe’s signature comfort dish, consists of fusilli noodles coated with a cream sauce made from mushrooms, artichokes and shallots that coats fusilli noodles. Oh, and there’s a sprinkle of grana padano parmesan cheese on top. 

The Grape Variety: Pinot Blanc — a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir that matches its red counterpart in acid and minerality. Typically fruity and floral in aromatics, this variety is usually consumed sooner, rather than later. Easy, delicate and graceful, Pinot Planc is an amiable wine on its own or with the enhancements of simple food.

Why It Works: Simple wine likes simple food. Without getting complicated, this is a no-nonsense pasta dish with complimentary wine. What do you know — they pair lovingly.

The natural high acid tones of Pinot Blanc, with its nimble citrus flavors and fragrant white flower aromas, razor through the cream sauce and elevate the dense vegetarian dish.

The Recommended Match: Hugel & Fils 2008 Pinot Blanc. You can’t screw up with Pinot Blanc from Alsace. The Hugel family has been growing in Alsace since the mid-1400s — and have retained the same vineyards ever since. They describe their Pinot Blanc as an “all-purpose dry white.”  Rightly so, the wine is dainty, subtle and refreshing — not to mention well-rounded. 

Curl up at the Row House Cafe with a bowl of pasta and a glass of Pinot Blanc. Now exhale. You’re at home here.

Row House Cafe  |  1170 Republican St., Seattle  |  (206) 682-7632