Cafe Lago

Written by on January 12, 2011 in I Eat Seattle, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Montlake  

Cafe Lago

How I heard of this place: My friends Zach & Cynthia boasted about the romantic, intimate setting at Cafe Lago, while raving about the fresh, house-made pastas and delicious food. It wasn’t long before I came up with an opportunity to sample the cuisine.

Cafe Lago Signage

Type of cuisine: Fresh Italian food, pasta handmade each morning and thin-crust, lightly topped pizzas baked in the apple wood fire each evening. Antipasti, including salads, pizza, pasta and dessert, are tastily and pleasingly served each night.

Cafe Lago Entry

Ambiance: A rather casual setting, tall ceilings with white-painted walls, sparsely decorated, and windows lining the front and one side of the establishment, intimate seating for couples and tables set up for larger parties, including our eight, Cafe Lago makes everyone feel at home, comfortable and satisfied. While the space seems casual, this isSeattle and our formal dress-up dinner did not seem at all out of place in the space. Black and white photographs, placed not quite half-way up, lined the wall directly ahead of me, and cascading light fixtures dimly lit our table.

Cafe Lago Dining

Glassbaby votives in vibrant and engaging colors lit up each table and the counter top directly underneath the framed photographs. The large, stainless steel applianced kitchen, while busy and engaging was quiet and composed as more and more patrons entered the restaurant. Short walls separated the space in the large room, giving the sense of more intimacy and romantic feel to the diners, while the whispers of music gently echoed in the background. 

Cafe Lago Seating

What I ordered: In our party of eight, none of whom had been to Cafe Lago, we were easily tempted by the happy hour menu (Monday through Thursday from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.), the main menu of entrees, as well as dessert! After placing our orders, our table was offered sliced rustic bread and fragrant olive oil for dipping…an endless supply. For appetizers, three of us ordered the little salad ($4) off of the happy hour menu, which, on this eve, was the Caesar salad; large cut leaves of Romaine lettuce topped with four very crispy and golden croutons, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper tossed in a light, lemony dressing. We had one order for the happy hour biscotti and espresso ($4), and the happy margherita pizza ($8). Off of the antipasti menu, one in our party ordered the grilled eggplant ($6.95), marinated in olive oil, tomato, balsamic vinegar, garlic & parsley, served with a wedge of gorgonzola cheese. Another selected the Pomodori al Forno ($8.95), San Marzano plum tomatoes slow-roasted in the wood fire oven until caramelized & intensely flavored, served with Laura Chenel’s herbed goat cheese & crostini. The salad special ($7.95) consisted of sliced red beets, topped with arugula and a ball of hazelnut crusted, warm goat cheese. For the main entrees, I ordered the pasta special: linguine with rapini ($19.95). To my left and working around the table, we had one order for the ravioli ($19.95), the steak ($24.99), another order of ravioli ($19.95), the oft-recommended house specialty lasagna ($19.95), delicate pasta layered with ricotta, béchamel & tomato sauce, the gnocchi ($19.95), tender potato dumplings served in a tomato, vodka & cream sauce, topped with mozzarella cheese, an entree-sized pizza margherita ($17), marinara and garlic, topped with mozzarella & basil. The dining companion seated to my right ordered the little sandwich ($4) off of the happy hour menu, which, on this day was the meatball sandwich, served alongside a small mixed green salad. For dessert, we had three orders for the chocolate truffle cake ($7.95), a wonderfully light truffle cake, served with espresso-crema inglese, two orders for the lemon tart ($7.95), a thick, smooth lemon custard in a flaky almond crust, topped with honey whipped cream and one order of the panna cotta ($7.95), a creamy and silky custard infused with lavender atop an orange sauce.

On a return visit, Saturday, 11 April 2015We returned in celebration of the visit (belated birthday and anniversary) of good friends and out of town guests to enjoy another delicately prepared and easily boast-able meal. After a round of warm bread served with olive oil & vinegar,

Cafe Lago Bread Starter

we had two orders for the Caesar Chicories ($8 each) to start: mixed chicories, croutons, parmigiano,

Cafe Lago Caesar

and one for the Roasted Beets ($9): marinated in balsamico and olive oil, over winter greens, herbed chevre.

Cafe Lago Roasted Beets

For the main entrée, I selected the Ravioli di Verona ($20): Italian parsley filled with fresh peas, mint, ricotta, in tomato sauce.

Cafe Lago Herb Ravioli

My husband enjoyed the Agnello alla Griglia ($24): charbroiled Ellensburg lamb chop, Tuscan beans, grilled romaine, green onions,

Cafe Lago Lamb Chop

and one of our dining companions selected the second item off of the Piatti Forti, Bistecca Lago ($29): 10oz Painted Hills coulotte steak, gorgonzola, onions, peppers, frites.

Cafe Lago Steak

The remaining two in our party, each chose, and then switched their Pasta Fatta a Mano of Linguine Vongole ($20): Taylor clams, a touch of tomato sauce, white wine, garlic, parsley,

Cafe Lago Clam Pasta

and the Fettuccine con Polpette ($21): House made fettuccine, meatballs, tomato sauce.

Cafe Lago Fettuccine & Meatballs

What I loved: The appetizers, unanimously agreed, were purely marvelous! Everything sampled was better than the one before it, and the second bites of each attributed to that fact. The grilled eggplant, steakplant as we coined it was raved about throughout the entire meal! The light Caesar dressing, the warm goat cheese combination with the peppery arugula and soft beets, the freshness of the pizzas margheritas, the roasted tomatoes…everything surpassed any expectations we may have had. Of the entrees, I most enjoyed the pesto sauce drizzled through the marinara over the ravioli and the slight hint of bitterness in my broccoli rapini dish. The one roasted clove of garlic in my dish, and the crispy diced garlic atop the light olive oil sauce ended the meal with a punch.The caramelized onions over the buttery steak and the light, creamy, lasagna. There were no complaints from anyone. For dessert, while we enjoyed the sweet tartness of the lemon tart and the light, fresh flavor of the panna cotta, the favorite across the board was the chocolate truffle cake, with its dark chocolate, mousse-like consistency and melt-in-your-mouth texture.  

Why I loved it: Everything was delicious! The appetizers, entrees and desserts, nothing was left to be desired. The dimly lit space was cozy, intimate and romantic. The service quick and the food as fresh as fresh can be.

Cost: Average to high ($17-$24.95 for each dinner entree)

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