Violet’s Attic: A Whacky Dinner-Theatre Experience

By Zita Lam

As much as I love Halloween, dolls still serve a place among many quirky things that terrify me. Cafe Nordo’s latest show Violet’s Attic could have been my biggest nightmare; however, this strange yet novel production astonishes me with its creativity, professionalism, and audacious spirit.

Stepping into Nordo Culinarium, which is located in Pioneer Square, audiences would soon find themselves becoming one of the dolls because of its peculiar theme-setting: Oversized items including threads, a kid’s stool chair, and a Jack-in-the-box toy are on the stage. “Dolled-up” servers/actors presenting the set menu in kooky ways. Plates of reimagined dishes are prepared to give you a sense of uncanny in the taste!

Whether it is the performance or the four-course menu, Violet’s Attic showcases its capability to go beyond creative. This immersive experience begins when live music plays and a brunch of wicked dolls come to life. Each doll highlights a distinct characteristic and mirrors the wonderland of a little girl’s mind. Besides all the dancing and singing, the tea-party-inspired dishes add a brilliant touch to its creativity level.

First comes the appetizer “Buttons and Bonons” served with a giant cracker: Four colorful candy-like mousses with flavors of kalamata and feta; butternut squash and ras el hanout; beet and goat cheese; and avocado, lime, and cilantro. Two “Bonons” made of chicken liver and mushroom with centers of cheery balsamic jelly are certainly the highlights.

The second course is “Smarties” which comprises chilled scallops, tamagoyaki, rice cake, and wasabi honeycomb. It is followed by the main entrée “Salt Water Taffy”—Carleton Farms pork loin stuffed with hazelnuts, sage, apples, dried cranberry, and manchego cheese—wrapped in a big candy paper. A teapot full of gravy is served to finish the setting. Lastly, dessert “Tea sanwiches” —genoise filled with kiwi, strawberry, and earl grey custard— is served after the last act.

While I love the colors that are showcased on each dish…the chilled red scallops with blue honeycombs? Not a fan. The button-like mousses are too salty even pairing with a cracker. The pork loin is flavorous but it becomes too cold by the time it is sent to our table (also I prefer my meat dish to be served hot). However, with that being said, I still think Chef Christian Rosso’s fanciful menu completes the audacious spirit of the show.

Also, round applause for the actors for their professionalism. They constantly stay in the character whether they are performing or serving food. There are tons of interaction with the “dolls” one can expect —they might sneak up behind you while you eating or comb your hair while you chitchatting with other guests—it all helps to spice up the fun of your evening.

Violet’s Attic: A Grand Ball for Wicked Dolls runs through Nov. 24, 2019. For more information, visit www.cafenordo.com