after4ever (313) Brier, Washington | April 7, 2014
- AMBIANCE 4/5
- SERVICE 7/10
- SELECTION 7/15
- FOOD 7/10
- VALUE 3/10
- OVERALL 12/20
Definitely not a place to go when on a budget if you intend to try lots of things. Itís not that their prices are really unreasonable, itís just that they tend to focus on things that are more on the indulgent side. They really do make an effort to get out and get their hands on nice bottles and they compliment those with high-quality stuff from the kitchen. Itís not a place to come for a sparklingly creative meal, but what they do, they do very well.
Itís a little bit hard to find if you donít know the area. Not exactly a maze, but there are a lot of zig-zagging roads through here, sweeping corners, and roundabouts until you hit the new strip mall that Purple calls home. Thereís parking, though, and once youíre inside itís quite nice. Rough wood construction, heavy iron tables and chairs, heavy iron napkin rings, heavy iron bread plates, heavy iron crackers baskets--you get the idea. Even the menus are sturdy, bound in heavy chipboard. If youíre willing enough to suspend disbelief, you might almost feel like Beowulf will be slaying Grendel any minute now.
The people are super nice. Cheerful, and they know their menu and their approach cold. They put in a complete effort even though we sat upstairs (where no one else was yet) and didnít order much. Really a thoroughly well-tuned floor staff.
And the kitchen staff is good too. We focused on snacks for the most part, some of us ordering cheese plates, others caramels, and I think maybe one prepared dish. The cheeses are well selected here, and they present well--on a nice wooden cutting board with fig jam and green apples complimentary. There are also nice sturdy crackers in the aforementioned woven iron basket. Yeah--woven iron basket. Kinda cool. Must get tiring slogging up and down those stairs with such heavy serving ware, but I guess they know what theyíre in for.
I ordered a flight of "burly" reds, which turned out to mean very acidic, tannic, peppery reds. Interesting stuff from hot dry Mediterranean and South American regions. Not stuff Iíd necessarily order again, but my curiosity was piqued and then satisfied. And they come out in a little caddy for four miniature glasses, made of--wait for it--iron. You get a card on nice card stock tucked in, telling you which is which. They had me tasting from most powerful wine to least, which struck me as odd, but it seemed to work well enough.
All in all, this place definitely focuses on the wine, even including a few pages in the wine book devoted specifically to Woodinville. Everything else around the wine is well considered and worth enjoying, but you come here primarily when youíre in the mood for a good glass. It delivers.
Packard (31) Kirkland, Washington | November 12, 2009
- AMBIANCE 4/5
- SERVICE 10/10
- SELECTION 10/15
- FOOD 10/10
- VALUE N/A
- OVERALL 17/20
There are four upscale Purple Cafeís in the area; I havenít been to the Seattle one yet, but we have a track record in Woodinville, Kirkland, and Bellevue. My wife doesnít drink beer for medical (so she says) reasons, so we have a constant issue of finding good wine for her and good beer for me. Our current favorite compromise on the Eastside is Cafe Veloce, but if the monthly commission check is generous, then itís off to Purple Cafe. This is a yuppie place, especially in Bellevue and Kirkland, with the Woodinville location serving a more refined and genteel group of baby boomers (like us). Obviously a great selection of wines at better (sometimes bargain) prices than many of the other wine bars in the area. They have some outstanding Washington wines that may be first (Efeste Final-Final $50) or second label wineries (Amavi cab from Walla Walla - $50). Let the servers guide you. But what about the beer? When they first opened their Woodinville store, we hounded them regularly to get some decent beer. They responded and now have a small selection that represents some of the best of breed. No drafts. Twelve bottled beers, but some good stuff: Speakeasy Untouchable, Houblon Chouffe, Snoqualmie Copperhead. No stouts, though. The outstanding thing about this place is that they will have perfect food to pair wtih the beers, and the bartender (and some of the servers) have been educated about what goes with what. Tonight at the Bellevue location, the wife had a risotto with chanterelle and marscarpone, and I had the duck special. A bit pricy (good luck getting out of there for less than $120 for two), but itís nice to have some decent beer choices along with a great wine selection.Go to Costco and buy a gifit card for Purple Cafe for 25% off. And on Fri or Sat nights, have dinner at Purple Cafe, then walk over to Redhook for music and DoubleBlack stout.