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Café Nordo

Saturday night found M2 and me outside the Theo auditorium waiting for the doors to open to Café Nordo, a traveling dinner and show.  When the doors opened we were the only patrons outside the venue so the fanfare prepared by the actors/servers fell just a little flat, although we appreciated it.  Once checked in we settled into the waiting area with a glass of champagne and watched the other guests arrive. 
The auditorium space has one area sectioned off with fabric panels forming a roughly shaped dining room.  An irregular pattern of Oriental rugs lines the floor further defining the space, and several dining room tables, each able to seat 8 to 10 people, rims the edges of the "room".  After a few minutes in the ante area we were ushered to our table by Wyandotte, our server for the evening.  Each of the server/actors is named for a breed of chicken (Cochin, Silkie Bantam, Andalusio, Rosecomb) as this dinner is all about chicken.  More specifically it’s about local, sustainable, seasonal food featuring chicken.  The seating process was repeated with the other 30 or so guests and their servers until all were seated and the show began.   
You can think of Café Nordo as sort of a Teatro Zinzanni "light".  There are no acrobats or magicians or jugglers but there is a show with the maitre d’, servers and a "chef", providing entertainment and food for thought between and during each course. 
The courses are presented as part of the skit; a little riddle sets the stage for the presentation and then the server explains what is served.  Or you can plan ahead and see the full menu here
The opening amuse bouche, a grassy green shot topped with Crème fraîche and lemon curd was light and refreshing. 
The second course, a poached egg was presented on a "nest" of shredded Parmesan and whole wheat, placed on greens and served with a goat cheese béchamel in an egg shell so that you could add as much or as little as you liked to the dish.  The egg was perfectly poached, the nest provided an interesting crunchy texture and the béchamel was tangy and rich. 
The soup presentation was really fun.  Bowls with crispy potato chips, julienned zucchini, chanterelle mushrooms and a dumpling filled with chicken-liver pâté were placed on the table.  Then the servers came around with watering cans filled with the broth and proceeded to fill our bowls from the watering cans.  Very fun, although I cannot imagine doing this in my home!  
The main course was beautifully roasted chicken stuffed with pork sausage, peppers and onions and served with Habañero-infused, dried cherries.  The whole dish was very succulent and I especially loved the cherries, which I plan to try to replicate at home. 
We finished with a gruesome-looking but lovely-tasting chocolate panna cotta with fresh berries made to look like fresh liver on a blood-spattered dish.  Considering the upcoming holiday it seemed right in place, but it was a little hard to reconcile what it looked like with how it tasted.  Although it was good, I wish the chocolate flavor had been a bit more pronounced, as Theo chocolate is one of my favorites but it was a little lost.
We had a great time at dinner, due in part to our friendly tablemates and the overall entertaining atmosphere.  The dinner/show runs through November 22, Thursday – Saturday only.  If you go make sure you check all the "fine print" on the website.  A vegetarian offering is not offered, for instance.  A flight of wine is included in the dinner but the alternative for non-drinkers is simply water. 
It’s a little hard to tell who exactly is behind the tour.  The program lists Chad Fuhreck as the Chef de Cuisine.  I believe he is on staff at Theo and I’m sure the actors were local.  But the show does travel so there is someone behind the overall concept who pulls together the events in each city. 
For more information and tickets see the Café Nordo website.

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