Corks+Forks: Lecosho’s Spaetzle with Alsatian Pinot Gris

Melting pot cuisine — spaetzle and drink — pays respect to a city full of cultural influences.

Nothing against the initial restaurant, but Matt’s in the Market is actually located at Lecosho in the Harbor Steps. At least, Matt Janke, the Matt, is. After leaving his portion of the partnership at his namesake paragon location in Pike Place Market, Janke opened his downtown eatery, Lecosho, across the corridor and down the steps from the Seattle Art Museum in the fall of 2010.

Along side business partner, Sun Valley restauranteur Jill Buchanan, Matt seems to have found a new meaning. Lecosho, which is Chinook for “pig,” is also defined as “food we like,” running a seasonal menu, with halibut and ripe root vegetables, and is peppered with regular’s favorites, like house-made sausage and cavatelli, while a rotating daily chalkboard is posted outside to showcase the day’s fare.

Average happy hour prices hit the $7 mark, with beer, wine and a daily cocktail at $3, $4 and $5, respectively while the late night dining menu matches it and runs until 1:00am daily.

A lengthy bar top welcomes single stragglers while high-top tables are available in the lounge, intimate tables for couples perch next to the windows with (almost) a view of the water through the jagged pillars of the viaduct. Communal dining options are open for large groups to snuggle in and toast to affordable drinking, eating and a Seattle foodie legacy.

Rustic and cozy, like a log cabin in the city, the food that Matt and Jill must like is countrified Euro-mutt. With German, French, Italian, Spanish and, of course, Northwest influences in both edibles and beverages, Lecosho really likes meat. Lamb, rabbit, porchetta, whole chickens, grilled steaks and local charcuterie grace the menu while farro and Italian pastas seems to be a particular granular mainstays. And the spaetzle, oh, the spaetzle.

The Dish: Spaetzle ($8) — Judy Garland pigtail-curled dumplings coil up in browned butter, freshly shaved pecorino romano cheese and colored with a sprinkling of parsley. Simple in construction, the dish is nonetheless scrumptious and flavorsome.

Traditionally, spaetzle/spätzle/knöpfle roughly translates into meaning “little sparrow,” a reference to the small and delicate shape and weight of the noodle. The dumpling is found in German, Austria, Swiss, Hungarian and Alsatian cuisines, all keeping the same general no-frills style of the noodle.

The Variety: Alsatian Pinot Gris — Alsace, one of the smallest regions in France, is perched in the northeast corner of the country, bordering the west bank of the upper Rhine river adjacent to Germany and Switzerland. Although the region is compact in comparison to the rest of the country, Alsace is dense in vineyard land, with more than 14% of the planted vines reigning as king Pinot Gris.

The cool, mountainous climate of Alsace and its warm volcanic soils are ideal for the Pinot Gris, allowing it a long growing season in the sun for ripe fruit with the vibrant acid components of mountain growth and nights. Considered a noble grape of the region, Pinot Gris is highly regarded and respected in the industry for its balance and elegance.

Why It Works: The bright, natural acidity in the fruit align with the lightweight spaetzle, with the typical honeysuckle and orange stone fruits profile to pull in flavor to enhance the simple dish.

The Recommended Match: Anne Boecklin 2009 Reserve Pinot Gris ($18) — Nectarine and heirloom navel orange sweetness fill the aromas with fleshy white peach and honey as secondary scents. The palate is earthy and dry, mineral-driven from the basalt soils with the orange fruits stroking the palate while the finish whisks it away in a dry, brisk acidic manner.

Affirmative — the food is mighty tasty for the price (an inadvertent swindle to say the least) and the drinks are slyly strong (watch out for the Fenicottero, gin/aperol/bitters) at Lecosho in the Harbor Steps but with Alsatian wine on your side, the Matt in your corner and spaetzle/miscellaneous meat dish in your belly, you’re in the clear.

Lecosho | 89 University St. at Harbor Steps,  Seattle | (206) 623-2101