A night at Café Purple

Café Purple, located off of NE 4th St.  and 106 Ave NE in downtown Bellevue, was packed Feb. 14 for an overcast Valentine’s day.

The café’s heavy front doors, 12 feet tall rough-beaten metal slabs, lead into a moodily lit lounge. To the left, hallways walled with row upon row of every kind of wine imaginable where businessmen eat in the shadow of Chateaus and Sauvignons. To the right, a woman in a dark purple vest behind a desk piled high with French books on courtesy and fine dining ushers guests in from the cold, taking them to their seats.

If just a pair, the couple is led passed the walls of wine and another form of group seating, booths with walls that spiral like the inside of a seashell, into general seating, a somewhat cramped candlelit affair.

The food at Café Purple is neither uncomfortably expensive nor cheap enough to make a habit, but is rather the perfect price for a special holiday oriented date. The most expensive entrée on the menu, a steak and lobster combo, costs almost $40, but it’s possible to order appetizer, salad and entrée for just under $60.

For instance, a plate of saffron mussels and ,lams, a bowl of piping hot Penn Cove mussels, manila clams in a tomato and sherry sauce, with scattered bits of chorizo iberico and toasted bread to soak up anything the shellfish leaves behind, costs $15. The waiter-recommended quinoa and arugula salad, a mix of quinoa, arugula, butternut squash, pickled shallots, toasted almonds, sprinkled with parmigiano-reggiano and lacquered with a lemon vinaigrette, comes in either half or full servings at $9 and $12 respectively.

And of course, for the most difficult decision of the night, the romantic entrée, there is nothing more enticing to put between the new or established couple than some form of duck. Duck is one of nature’s most succulent fowl, and the smell of roasted mallard medallions quickly takes over the somewhat small general seating area. The pan roasted duck breast comes drenched in a cherry juice and wine reduction, piled with lentils and fennel strands and surrounded by duck cracklings, the crisped skin, all for $28.

Be forewarned, those with many allergies, Café Purple will gladly remove any offending materials from the delivered food, but any substitutions will cost the full face-price of the item.
Desert and wine are all wonderful options, with an aforementioned wine selection that is truelly immense. Again, Café Purple makes walls out of bottles more expensive than the entire meal. $11 glasses of Chateau D’Arche, a white wine with soft floral notes, pairs wonderfully with a lemon sorbet, or perhaps the salted caramels, both $6.

Barring wine and dessert, two wonderful things not everyone will enjoy, the above meal will fill two without running over the budget. Valentine’s day may have already passed, but perhaps a birthday will spur a romantic dining experience at Café Purple.