Green Lake, Meet Eight Row
Weeks before Eight Row opened its doors I passed the restaurant and saw the culinary team huddled around a table training the staff about each of the dishes they were bringing out of the kitchen. The crew looked more like a bunch of friends than a labor force. You could tell they liked what they were doing. That was when I knew this restaurant was going to be different.
To dine at Eight Row feels like dining at a friend’s house who seriously loves food and can host you in a ridiculously cool dining room. And to the owner Chef David Nichols, that is exactly what it is. Eight Row is one of Green Lake’s newest restaurants. We’ve written about it a bit previously but last week I got a chance to dine with a friend thanks to a gracious invitation from the restaurant who hosted us.
Before we talk about the food, first let’s talk about the name, because it is this restaurant’s guiding light. Row number is the standard unit of measurement for cherries, with eight rows being exceptionally large and rare. Executive Chef and Owner David Nichols grew up on his family’s orchard in Wenatchee. Nichols’ family drives produce from the family farm and their surrounding Central Washington neighbor’s farms once a week.
He created the menu to follow the fruit tree seasons of Central Washington as well as the cultures that are represented there.
So what kind of cuisine is Eight Row? Chef describes it as Pan American. Nichols talks about how growing up in the farming community of Central Washington everyone that worked on the farm was either from Mexico or Central America.
“Recent immigrants make our farming way of life possible,” Nichols said. “And the cuisines they brought to our farm played a major part of what our childhood tasted like. And what home still tastes like. Eight Row is not a Latin American restaurant. It is quintessentially American, in our view. We are an entire country of immigrants, and the food influences come from all of the world, just like the people. So by serving the kind of Pan-American dishes on offer at Eight Row, we want people to think about what it means to be American cuisine.”
With that description I was really curious what the menu would look like. For our evening, it started with the daily special which featured the most delicious scallops. On the recommendation of the server we ordered the Dungeness Crab Salad, Fried Eggplant and Kohlrabi salad. First of all, I have never eaten eggplant and liked it in my life, until I tried Eight Row’s eggplant. Chef joked that if you fry anything it will taste great, but don’t be fooled. He knew what he was doing with the cumin creme and the chili de arbol honey drizzled all over that amazing dish. Equally delightful was the kohlrabi. Yes. KOHLRABI. I had always kind of dismissed that cabbage as a tough, unforgiving vegetable but this salad may have been one of my favorites of the evening. We finished off the night with the an apple galette that featured apples from the family orchard that had arrived earlier that week.
Equally amazing is the restaurant’s bar program. The cocktails include ingredients such as pickled ramps (yup, that’s a form of a spring onion) and many other pickled fruits. Our amazing server joked about it took her a while to make sure she knew all of the ingredients that were featured on the cocktail list. How many restaurants can say that? The wine menu was hand picked by Nichols and his brother, Ian, based on their travels through Italy, France, and Spain. And of course, it also pairs well with the flavorful foods and feature some really hard to find wines from across Europe.
In the coming weeks the menu will change again to feature the flavors of early fall in Central Washington. And keeping with his promise to feature seasonal ingredients, be it tree fruit or even hops, Chef is planning a special prix fixe menu designed around a wet hop beer pairing lineup. Look for that special menu to run the first week of October.
I asked Chef Nichols why Green Lake? “We especially liked the idea of serving a neighborhood with the kind of community feel that Green Lake has. I moved to the area from downtown two years ago and I love it here. So the location search was a bit biased from the get go. The people and surrounding business have been great to us so far. We like to rub elbows and make friends. Eight Row is a no-freeze zone.”
I, personally am really glad they are here. Check them out. I bet you will be too.