|Purple Cafe Bellevue - an inside look - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
There's been a lot of anticipation over the third location of Purple Cafe. Mr. Wasabi (Brock) and I have enjoyed the Woodinville location many times over, and we especially love the one in downtown Seattle for its impressive giant tower of wine that's probably visible from several counties away. The chance to get a sneak peek at the new Bellevue Towers location and see their menu was an opportunity too good to pass up, so I ventured into the new space and was pleased by a mix of the familiar and some new things. The spirit of the Pacific Northwest is alive and well in their restaurant, utilizing a lot of the familiar earthy, natural elements in their other spaces. The large windows allow light to pour in, showing off the floor to ceiling walls containing their wine collections. A unique ventilation system cools the wine from the ceiling, keeping them at the ideal temperature while they are displayed throughout the restaurant.
|More sneaky peeks at Purple Bellevue's interiors - photos by Wasabi Prime|
Purple's taste menu is an especially nice thing for cuisine options. Going to the Woodinville location a while back, Brock and I liked the idea of small bites of interesting items to precede one's main course. A bit of an experimental food lab, these bites are great ways to sample flavors and ingredients without the commitment of ordering something larger, plus it's a pleasant way to try many things without feeling too full from the dining experience. During Saturday's tasting, I was very happy to have a bit of their Rogue blue cheese with (my favorite) fig jam and apple slices, along with a wedge of their creamy-delicious pate, and delicate slices of fresh hamachi sprinkled with citrus. The combination of flavors both on the table and what is offered throughout Purple Cafe's menu is a laundry list of delicious local inspiration that reminds one that food should be fun and all flavors deserve to be explored.
|Little bites to make the mouth happy - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
There was a contest going on for Purple Cafe fans to send in a review of their baked brie appetizer, so of course the baked brie had to be ordered! In a moment of blinding honesty, I must say I tend to order Purple's goat cheese appetizer over the brie, but given my passionate love of all things cheese, it's like choosing chocolate ice cream over vanilla -- who cares, as all is clearly right with the world in either case. Like a gorgeous little gift, the baked brie came in a parcel of filo dough, along with their house-made flatbread and a sweet relish of grapes. Cutting into the cheesy gift, the melted brie oozed out and our table audibly rejoiced at the sight. Moments of religion-like silence followed as enjoyment of rich cheese and crackers commenced. Amen to that.
|Cheese is truly a gift deserving of flaky pastry wrapping - photo by Wasabi Prime|
The team at Purple Cafe were as excited about the opening as the guests were. The waitstaff were given an intensive two-week orientation to get to know the extensive wine and cheese menus, as well as a fine knowledge of the ingredients used. Given the still-precarious economic times, eating at a restaurant is a luxury, so being able to have a nice dialogue with the people who clearly have a good relationship with the food they serve makes an already special occasion that much more satisfying. It was a rare treat to be given this inside look at a restaurant on the eve of their opening, and the food was, as always, a truly lovely thing.
My only regret was not being able to stay longer, as I had to scamper off to catch the Vogue Front Row Fashion event at the neighboring Hyatt Regency Bellevue down the street. As I was watching the waiflike models saunter down the catwalk, I thought to myself, sure, you've got glamour, enviable height, and an uncanny ability to be graceful with four inch stilettos, but I've got something you don't: Happy Baked Brie Tummy. Bam, said the Lady.
Big Wasabi thanks to the people at Heavy Restaurant Group for letting the Prime preview the new Bellevue Purple Cafe. I may have missed out on the main course, but I'm not worried because I know I'll be back very soon.