Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Cafe Nordo strays a bit with spooky show, better menu

Hotel Nordo (Bruce Clayton Tom)
Hotel Nordo
Café Nordo
Through November 20, 2016

Café Nordo continues their fun mission, creating new scripts paired with innovative menus, with Hotel Nordo. The atmosphere is of a spooky 125 year old former Pioneer Square hotel with lots of stories embedded in the walls. They attempt to evoke a history of dark deeds, while feeding squares of various courses for reasons revealed toward the end of the meal.

Their press release says, “Each plate of surrealist cuisine is paired with an episode of this Hotel's history, beginning with a 1927 wedding that ended in tragedy. Hotel Nordo tells four haunting tales of memories, death, loss, and regret. Audiences are encouraged to don their drop-waist dresses, spats, and boas and raise a toast at the ill-fated wedding that whets the Hotel’s appetite for human suffering.”

While the usual Nordo actors/serving staff try hard to create a continuous flow, this particular iteration is better for the food than the story. There is an over-arching tale, but its presentation is a bit of a muddle and hard to follow and the revelations are not very satisfactory.

Many of their prior stories focused on a particular culinary tale that gave information and occasionally a political stance like “GMOs bad” or educating about organic versus non-organic. Those are more successful because the stories have a more direct reason for being. Hotel Nordo is more of a standard theatrical story unconnected to food information, and therefore less particular to only Café Nordo.

The atmospherics and music of Annastasia Workman and crew are great, along with vintage and not so vintage songs that various actors sing individually. Actors include Ray Tagavilla, Richard Nguyen Sloniker, Alyssa Keene, Opal Peachey, Evan Mosher, Ronnie Hill, Heather Refvem and Corinne Magin.  

Chef Erin Brindley's menu weaves four courses of locally sourced cuisine with inventive touches, starting with an appetizer of Beets with Goat Cheese, Eggplant, Avocado, Walnuts, and Leek Ash. There are two entrée-style dishes. Baked Potato with Beef Short Ribs, Black Garlic, Deep Fried Potato Skin, Chives, Sour Cream and Salmon Poached in Coconut Oil served with Mirin Poached Napa Cabbage and Forbidden Rice. Then a luscious dessert of Cherry Liqueur Soaked Genoise, Sour Cherries, Chantilly Cream. (There are vegetarian and gluten-free options.)

Part of going to a Nordo show is experiencing the inventive menu. Sometimes they will pair foods you may never have had together at the same time.

It’s not easy to develop great food scripts and inventive menus all the time. Having a venue that needs rent to be fed to it creates some pressure to crank out shows to fill it. I just have to hope that they can continue to work on connecting their stories to food and their food to food stories, since that will make them continually unique, as it really should be.

For more information, go to www.cafenordo.com or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2595184 or call 800-838-3006.