A Birthday at 8 Row

Growing up in a small remote town on the Olympic Peninsula, going out for birthday dinners was rarely a highlight of the occasion. Mom would cook our favorite meal and bake our favorite cake and if we were lucky to land a birthday weekend, we'd drive an hour to the next "city" (population: 19,000) to our favorite Thai restaurant. For us, it was wonderful. 

As an adult, it's been a great privilege to be a passenger Seattle's local food scene with some of the best food digs in the state within a few minute's drive (or walk). Though nearly all of our cooking is still done at home, it's a no-brainer for Mom and I to get together celebrate our birth milestone by trying new restaurants in the area and re-visiting some of our favorites. This year, for Mom's 57th birthday, Chris and I took her to Eight Row in Green Lake center.

Walking into Eight Row feels much like entering the stylish home of a house-plant obsessed millennial: lush green foliage climbing and trailing the trendy multi-textured walls lit by expansive windows and fun light fixtures. A blend of practical and idyllic infuses the atmosphere, a foreshadowing of what's to come to the palette. We started with a pick from the original Eight Row Cocktails list. The suggested concoctions and liquor selection seemed bigger than other restaurants at this same caliber. A great place to meet someone for a drink. My favorite was the Harvest Queen - a cachaca based fizz with the perfect amount of honey and lemon. Fun fact: they bring in ice from a company specializing in crystal clear cubes which really leveled up Chris' negroni. 

Something I've learned more recently is to always ask your server what their favorite dish is. Not the most popular dish, but what they themselves love the most. After all, it's likely they've actually tried it all. Our server (Robert) did not let us down in suggesting the Fried Eggplant with honey and herbs. I usually find myself deterred from "fried" vegetables but this is the dish that forever proved me wrong. The creaminess of the inner eggplant was retained (without even the most subtle hint of bitterness) and the perfectly crisp outer layer soaked up the herby honey and cumin crema wonderfully. If it weren't for prioritizing room for dessert, we would have ordered another. Heck, it could have been the dessert.

The charred broccoli dish was another fun surprise with interesting elements like crispy quinoa, fried capers and jalapeno aioli. The scallop ceviche in coconut milk with bits of chili flakes, pickled onion and crispy parsnip gave us a punch to the mouth we couldn't help but want more of. For Mom's birthday dessert, Chocolate Tres Leches combined many textures into a drool worthy dish - the salted nutella cream truly taking the "cake". 
My top 3 favorite restaurant list made room for Eight Row last month and I can't wait to return again to try their new seasonal dishes, and that eggplant.  

Helpful hint: Stressed about parking in Green Lake? Park for *free* in the PCC parking garage (right under Eight Row) for 119 minutes or less with a PCC purchase/validation.

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