Photo: Cafe NordoTake the backroom of Theo Chocolate in Fremont, Seattle. Add creative interpretations of bar food made from local, sustainable ingredients. Mix in carefully-constructed cocktails from America’s best bartender, original jazz scores, booze’s fascinating history, stunning women in stunning vintage, an actor who talks exactly like an old-timey radio announcer, and a tale of twisted, tainted love.
What do you get? No, not the strangest, most analogy-strained drink ever. It’s Sauced, the third production from innovative dinner theater Cafe Nordo.
I attended Nordo’s second production, Bounty! An Epic Adventure last spring and had just that. An epic adventure. It was a combination of tastes and entertainment I had never experienced before. (Raw geoduck, anyone?) Chef Nordo Lefesczki — an enigma, mystery, and collaboration in his own right — created something beyond the usual foray of dinner theater. The setting was a sinking ship. We learned about the unknown fate of ocean creatures and the mysteries of what was on our dinner plates while our waiters danced, teased, and waxed poetic about the seas.
Alcohol runs in my blood, both literally (tonight) and figuratively, from the Irish whiskey-loving side of my family. I thought the combination of Nordo and my familial vice would blow the lid off Bounty!
But I couldn’t help but feel like the production was missing something. The performance and plot was much more polished than Bounty! I fear they used a little too much elbow grease and lost their most endearing ingredient: zaniness.
At the last performance, we were served squid ink. This time, I couldn’t stretch my imagination to believe that mixed nuts with a subtle lime glaze was bar food “deconstructed, reconstructed, and then deconstructed again.” Last time, we sat in both fear and awe of the food, the scene around us, and our sassy waiters. This time, I waited in anticipation merely out of hunger, thirst, and the hope that something wacky would go down.
The plot of Bounty! was definitely green-themed, but the plot of Sauced, as far as I could tell, was not. The press release described it as the “sexy, dirty, soul-baring darkness of humanity under the influence,” which could have easily translated over to mindless consumption and environmental destruction, but I didn’t get the sense that they were making that connection.
I don’t mean to be too harsh; I definitely enjoyed the show, and judging by the roars of laughter, the crowd did too. Chef Lefesczki has the uncanny ability to pull together some of Seattle’s best talent, food, drinks, and jokers in a way that makes you forget you’re sitting in the backroom of a chocolate shop.
And Seattleites, my words should be taken with a grain of tequila salt. If you’ve got the money and want to drink away a rainy evening outside of your apartment, by all means go. This is ultimately an enjoyable performance.
But first, a plea to that mysterious Chef Lefesczki, wherever you may be: Keep Nordo Weird.
Sauced runs on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through November 13.