Cafe Nordo Builds A New Home in Pioneer Square
Cafe Nordo has for years combined the visual and performing arts with the art of hospitality, holding short runs of delightful dinner theatre in spots around town. The creative team behind Nordo are now attempting to establish a permanent home they call The Nordo Culinarium in Pioneer Square. It would benefit the Square, and—I say—therefore the city, as it serves to unite nightlife and arts in neighborhood that has been hit hard by economic volatility over the years.
Pioneer Square is the cultural heart of Seattle, from Skid Row to the speakeasies and jazz clubs to the fine art galleries now clustered there. With various booms and busts, it has always maintained a pioneer spirit central to the region and is subject to more attrition when the economy sours. The neighborhood lost one of its main anchors in 2010, the Elliott Bay Book Company, and the recession continued to chip away at storefronts. (Cuttysark Nautical Antiques on the same block just closed its storefront after 38 years.) That beautiful space has been fallow ever since, but the folks at Nordo are looking to transform it into a year-round venue for food and performance.
The timing is right: Among the rowdy clubs and historic dives like The New Orleans and The Double Header (Never leave us, please!), there are new capacious sports bars and refined destination restaurants opening on every block. These are raising the reputation of the neighborhood, and in some cases maintaining a main street vibe. (I love that Smith Mercantile sells scoops of candies during the day and craft cocktails at night.) Nordo won’t be alone, but it will be integrating the arts and hospitality, true to the character of the neighborhood and the historic structure, which makes it unique among the newcomers to the Occidental Park area.
Nordo has always taken a unique approach to food and theatre that appeals to devotees of both. Its unique shows create a narrative around the main ingredients of the seasonal meal. One gets a little history, a lot of laughs and a full tummy, all in one cohesive experience. In the Culinarium, the creative team will incorporate visual and literary arts into the space and the programming in ways that their earlier pop-ups could not accommodate.
Nordo has a Kickstarter underway to raise funds for their kitchen. (The page breaks down the costs nicely.) The project has support from many of the major arts funding organizations, but the difference will need to come from the crowd—and they have a ways to go. They will at least be doing a run of their new show Don Nordo this fall, and you can grab a ticket to it as one of the perks for donating. Learn more about past performances on Nordo’s Web site and look over their grand scheme on their Kickstarter page.
Manhattan Introduces a New Chef and Menu
On Tuesday, September 17, Manhattan Seattle invited the press and select guests to come in for a taste of their new menu, presented by chef Nick Parker, who has worked at Valentino’s in Las Vegas and most recently at the Freestone Inn in Wazama, WA.
Manhattan has developed a reputation as a destination for a solid meal; it was recently chosen as the Best Place for Meat and Potatoes Eaters in Seattle Weekly, and that doesn’t appear to be changing with the new chef. However, the flavorful bite of house-cured smoked salmon and roe and dainty duck confit rillette definitely showed that the range is expanding, as soul food favorites remain on the menu—grits, fried chicken and Kansas city-style baby back ribs (with black eyed peas on the side, natch).
Check out the new menu and reserve a table on the Manhattan Seattle Web site.
Eat Out on Capitol Hill 2014 is Next Week
Mark your calendars: Thursday, September 25 is the night of Eat Out on Seattle. Manhattan will be one of many venues on the hill donating a portion of their sales to support The Country Doctor, which provides health services to patients regardless of their ability to pay. Other participants include cafes and creameries and haute cuisine destination dining around the hill and neighboring areas, like Broadcast Coffee and Sitka & Spruce. See my Get Out post for more info and a full list of venues.