Thursday, December 6, 2012

Off the Map: Who Eats Calamari With a Fork?!

Calamari -- Purple Cafe and Wine Bar, Seattle, WA
Purple Cafe and Wine Bar

So after three days and seven prior restaurants, Vodka and Chianti have arrived at their final Seattle Best Thing I Ever Ate stop, still reeling from the intense amount of caffeine consumed during our morning's coffee tour and Vodka shielding her eyes from the ever-present Seattle sun (seriously, how does the girl who HATES the sun come to Seattle during the three most pleasant days in the town's existence?!  It's an injustice).

A Cloudless Ferris Wheel Ride = Unacceptable
We are at Purple Cafe to consume the favorite calamari APPETIZER of Melissa D'Arabian (who is not exactly batting a thousand on her Best Thing I Ever Ate choices...).  
No Pressure or Anything, Melissa
As Chianti mumbles about her desire to eat pho instead of calamari, we each order a glass of red, and Chianti manages to photo-bomb four pictures before Vodka succeeds in taking a somewhat acceptable shot of the glasses.
There Are 18 Other Similar Photos Featuring Snippets of Chianti's Big Head
Settling on the smoked salmon crostini (with preserved lemon, capers, and red onion) to go along with our calamari (which comes with moroccan tomato aioli), Vodka compliments Seattle's preponderance of ready-and-waiting bottled water on all of their restaurant tables.  
And Also, This Napkin Ring Is Nice. Trying to Be Generous Here....
Within moments, our salmon crostini arrive, and we are in heaven.  Thin slices of toast are topped by a solid dollop of smoked salmon, which we quickly spread into a thin layer across the bread.  
One Little, Two Little, Three Little Salmon Breads
A Smattering of Capers
In what has absolutely become the pattern of Seattle, were this the Best Thing I Ever Ate choice, it would without a doubt receive 5 stars.

Unfortunately, that title belongs to the calamari.

And Guess What? This Ain't Great
Now, calamari, Chianti and Vodka both agree, is not a dish that we tend to order.  Mostly because it is fine, if completely unremarkable, at most places.  Purple Cafe's version fits this description exactly, as the one and only distinction that this calamari has over all others is the shape.  Instead of thick rounds fried to a crispy, crumbly texture, these pieces are essentially the shape of microwavable onion rings.  Unfortunately for Purple CafĂ©, the batter is light and crisp, and we all know, based on various crab cake experiences, how Vodka feels when restaurants go light on the batter.
Here's a Hint: Such a Practice NEVER ENDS WELL
The accompanying dip is, in Chianti's words, an "experience."  Apparently, it tastes of the most intense curry imaginable, although Vodka is much less specific in discerning its flavorings than Chianti (ironic for the girl who's done nothing but eat across the country for two years).  Additionally, the whole serving size is on the sparse side (another running theme in Seattle); that or, once again, the size of the platter is just entirely too large for the calamari itself (here's a hint, Seattle dining establishments -- if you serve on small plates, your food looks bigger!).
It's Not Rocket Science!
As Chianti stabs the calamari rings with her fork (inciting a reign of judgment from Vodka as to her finger food eating practices), Vodka attempts to chew through one of the tentacle versions of the fish... and fifteen minutes later, she is still chewing.  This tooth-exhausting experience puts the nail in the coffin of Vodka's tolerance, and if anything, she finds this calamari even less exciting than the standard platter of most restaurants.  
Poor Showing, Purple
Slapping down our payment and forcing our exit through the heaviest front door this side of the Mississippi, Vodka prepares to leave Seattle and return to the land of jaywalkers, reservation confirmers, and properly-sized flatware.

And preferably, some clouds.

Purple Cafe and Wine Bar's Calamari: 3 stars

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