The modern construct of the 'third place' is the idea that in addition to home and work, there is a third place where you can call the space your own. Most famously, Starbucks turned that concept into a business plan, while today many coffee shops in urban areas try to figure out how to get people to leave. The Row House Café successfully creates a third space so enticing, so full of options; it would make a lovely substitute for either the first place (home) or the second place (work). Sure enough, on a recent Monday night, there were business meetings, students on laptops, leisurely diners, and a book club meeting in the various rooms of the Row House Café.
The Row House is housed in a series of cottages from the early 20th century, remodeled into a labyrinth of rooms. An assortment of mismatched furniture fills the space, offering a feeling that would lean a little towards grandma's house if your grandmother made a killer espresso and shook her cocktails. Depending on the time of day and your mood, you can eat a cup of soup on the upholstered furniture in the front, sip a cocktail in the patio's sun, or take over the back room for a philosophers' café.
Like so many all-day cafés, Row House has its strong points (brunch and coffee) and its weak ones: for example, while the cocktails are nice, one must stop drinking them at nine, when the place closes. The sandwiches are the stars here, big grilled-cheeses embellished with a variety of European-style flourishes. The Acropolis is stacked high with cheeses and topped off with tapenade; the Kremlin with creamy Russian-style aioli. The food is simple--soups and sandwiches, mainly--allowing the same menu to be served, with small variations, throughout the day.
Depending on the time, weather, mood, or choice of food, the Row House can be whatever you make of it. The staff is accommodating, and it's difficult to complain about the pace (a bit slow) because in such a European-styled place, with hints of grandma, it feels a little like things should move more slowly. Your tomato soup will still be warm when you get around to dipping the grilled-cheese sandwich into it.