Tuesday October 6th marked the launch of Purple Café and Wine Bar in Bellevue. The first Purple Café opened in Woodinville in 2001. Since that time, owners Larry and Tabitha Kurofsky have also opened locations in Kirkland and Seattle.
As with the Seattle location, the only other Purple I have visited, the new Purple Bellevue is grand in scale with a seating capacity of approximately 200. The architecture, designed by Las Vegas firm Jawa Studios who also worked on Purple’s other locations, is industrial chic with swooping metal structures throughout. The space – which features a tasting bar, wine bar, and lounge – has high ceilings, wrought metal chairs, and picture glass windows. The heavy chairs, along with almost immovable doors, are a Purple theme with the menu branded ‘Great Place, Heavy Chairs’. To break up the space as well as provide room for larger parties, there are two semi-private areas shielded by large, wrought metal curvatures. To compete with Purple Seattle’s iconic spiral ‘wine tower’, Purple Bellevue has floor-to-ceiling ‘wine libraries’ that hold up to 15,000 bottles.
Dawn Smith, who Seattle Magazine recently named Sommelier of the Year, serves as Wine Director. The wine menu – which alternately attempts to amuse, inspire, and educate – is well organized with divisions by flight, varietal, and area. The menu is irreverently written with entries such as the one for Merlot which reads “Please don’t feel the need to apologize…It was just a movie, after all, and some of the world’s first and most sought after wines are based on merlot.” The menu also contains a glossary of terms. The wine list is available on-line here.
Glass pours range from $6.50 to $15 and bottles from $30 to $400. The stemware for 6 ounce pours is Schott-Zwiesel Forte series. Markup on the bottles is a standard 100% of retail. Washington wines are well represented on both the glass pour and bottle list with wines from Abeja, Amavi, Betz, Januik, Woodward Canyon, Pepper Bridge, and Substance to name a few. Purple should be commended for their policy of allowing patrons to bring one bottle of wine (750ml) sans corkage provided the wine is not on the wine list.
Purple’s food menu is overseen by Executive Chef Mike Davis and Chef de Cuisine Casey Barnes. Davis was previously at Walla Walla’s now defunct 26 Brix. The menu focuses largely on American food and features a mixture of sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and entrees. A series of small plates and cheeses are an affordable $4 to $6. The menu is available on-line here.
Purple Bellevue has an adjacent restaurant, Barrio, which features ‘Mexican dishes with a Northwest spin’. This restaurant, as with the Purple locations, is managed by the Heavy Restaurant Group which the Kurofsky’s set up to assist with their rapid growth.
Overall Purple Café Bellevue is a winner. There were only two items I marked as needing improvement. The first is the temperature of the Malbec I had was a too-warm 74 degrees. Given this was Purple Bellevue’s grand opening, I will give them a mulligan as the Seattle location deals with wine temperature better than most. The second is a need to have good supply of Wine Away on hand. After a patron was doused by a glass of red wine (the heavy chairs were to blame here), the best the servers could offer were white napkins.
See Purple Café Bellevue’s hours and other information here.