Chophouse Row, developer Dunn and Hobbes's spiritual sequel to Melrose Market, is filling up with some really cool tenants, quickly becoming the most exciting new arrival in Capitol Hill since, well, Melrose Market.
Sara Naftaly, who owned the much-loved but now closed Le Gourmand with her husband Bruce, will open Amandine here—a bakeshop with a focus on simple, authentic goods, specifically macarons and ice cream sandwiches. A few general details have been circulating this year about Amandine, including plans to collaborate in some fashion with Slate Coffee Roasters, an up and coming operation in east Ballard that has earned the fierce loyalty of local coffee geeks.
Now, Chelsey Walker-Watson, who co-owns Slate along with her mother and brother, is shedding some light on what this collaboration will look like. Envisioned as a sort of autonomous coffee/pastry alliance, the coffee shop and bakery will operate as separate businesses within the same space.
“We want the collaboration to be very visible,” says Walker-Watson. “Rather than a bakery that just happens to use Slate coffee.”
Imagine you’re on your way to work and need your morning coffee. Stop into this (as of yet unnamed) space and approach the counter. To the left is Slate’s coffee set up: the gorgeous espresso machine, pour overs, etc. To the right is a flour-dusted baker boxing rows of delicate macaron. Patrons can have a seat in the mezzanine and drink an americano alongside something warm and freshly baked.
The collaboration goes deeper than just sharing a counter. Instead of relying on larger bakeries like Macrina to supply the same ol' coffee shop goods (squash harvest bread, etc.), Slate will serve an assortment of pastries made by the Amandine bake staff. “We’ve talked a lot about how we can pair flavors and ingredients,” says Walker-Watson. “And do some things where coffee and macaron compliment one another.”
For a city that prides itself on its coffee literacy, this sort of collaboration is rather unprecedented. The status quo is for a café to be coffee focused and offer pastry (usually Macrina) as a sort of aside, or for a restaurant to serve delicious, thoughtful dishes but brew gallons of drip coffee as an afterthought.
“We have a really strong, amazing espresso culture,” says Walker-Watson. “But in general there hasn’t been a lot of experimentation with coffee in Seattle in the last 15 years maybe." She explains that since coffee is more about comfort and ritual, there is less will to push boundaries in terms of both the product and service models, "like pairing with other food."
There are only so many ways you can push boundaries with new brew methods, so this food/coffee collaboration seems a logical next step. And it can’t come soon enough. Chophouse Row is slated to open by the end of this year (despite the fact that the building itself still looks half finished) and the Slate/Amandine space will follow with a springtime debut.