SEATTLE: Purple Café and Wine Bar

My wife and I popped into Purple Café and Wine Bar one evening recently and left absolutely enchanted.

Entrance to Purple
Because the establishment is just a few blocks from my wife’s office, we headed over right after work. Arriving a bit after 5:30, the place already had a distinct buzz, though most of it was coming from the establishment’s two wine bars.

Purple has a healthy selection of wines by the glass as well as some interesting cheese and wine pairings, a section of the menu they call a “tasting bar” of small bites, and starters, so it’s easy to see how it could become a favorite haunt for after-work socializing. But we were there for dinner.

Our hostess seated us quickly at a table right by the front window, giving us a nice view of the street scene and the Fairmount Olympic Hotel directly across the street, but the service would soon steal the show.

Wait, did I say ‘service’? Yes, I did.

Looking over the multi-page menu, I was somewhat underwhelmed. In retrospect, I think it’s because, despite the word “Café” in its name, I had set myself for more of a fine-dining menu.

The wine tower at Purple Seattle
The appetizers and small bites were interesting but the offerings of soups and salads, sandwiches, and pizzas on the next couple of pages were more casual fare than I wanted. The main course page offered several creative pastas including one with duck confit and a Maine lobster mac and cheese, but I wasn’t in the mood for pasta. Other main course offerings included more inventive items like braised pork cheeks and oven-roasted duck breast, but I found the other dishes either too pedestrian (pan-roasted chicken breast) or too heavy for my appetite (pork chop, New York steak, and filet mignon). The one item I could have gone for was the pan-seared Ahi tuna.

Apparently, I was not in a mood to be pleased.

Enter our server, Meegan. She pointed out that the wine list offered 21 flights of three wines each, 11 aperitifs, and more wines by the glass than you can shake a stick at.  When she also suggested some items off the tasting bar to accompany the flight of white that we had selected, we were off and running!

When the wine came and we started tasting and making our observations to each other, including how each went with the delicious Ahi tuna poke appetizer, Meegan observed how much we were enjoying our wines and sent over C.T., one of the establishment’s sommeliers.

Server with wine flight
He chatted with us about our likes and dislikes, brought numerous tastes for us to sample, recommended pairings for the stuffed trout my wife had chosen from the daily fresh sheet as her entrée, and brought a sherry to complement the duck liver pâté we’d also chosen from the tasting bar. While more full than a typical dry sherry, it was far from being a cream sherry, and accentuated the flavor of the pâté beautifully.

One more small plate for me while my wife enjoyed her trout. I chose a white prawn ceviche, which might be best described as a “deconstructed” chevice, as the prawns had been nicely cured in the lime juice, but then arranged atop the marinated vegetables rather that served as more of a cold soup. A French white Bordeaux to accompany it, and I was set for the evening.

Despite my initial difficulty in finding something that I wanted to eat, the appetizers were all delicious, and my wife reported her trout was as well. But it was the attentiveness of the service, both by Meegan and C.T., that really made the evening memorable. What’s more, it helped ensure that we will be back.

Although quite a bit larger than a typical bistro, Purple has a distinct bistro vibe to it. The atmosphere lends itself to conversations and gives off a background noise that is loud enough that kids don’t have to be perfect little adults to fit in. In addition to Seattle, Purple has three other locations: Bellevue, Kirkland, and Woodinville.

Excellent food, wine, and service in a relaxed, casual atmosphere. What more could you ask?

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Photos courtesy Purple Cafe and Wine Bar
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