The Triple Door is a gem I’m annoyed I hadn’t found sooner. Located beneath the popular Wild Ginger restaurant and satay bar in downtown Seattle (and sharing Wild Ginger’s amazing kitchen and menu), this downtown-Seattle performance space-cum-lounge-cum-restaurant hosted Vienna Teng (with opener David Berkeley), and I was delighted in every respect with my first experience there. The space itself is beautiful, the servers are wonderfully and unobtrusively attentive (a huge plus during a performance of any kind), and the food and drink were spectacular.
Ms. Teng’s performance was booked to the Mainstage performance space, the larger of two performance areas with a seating capacity of 300 in cabaret-style booths and seats along long low bar-style tables. Every seat offers a direct view of the stage, and the lighting, acoustics, and audio equipment are superb. The one complaint I’d mention about the seating is the somewhat awkward shapes of some of the booths; for two long-legged members of my party, the curved booth and strangely shaped narrow table (it was an oblong shape ranging from a maximum of 1.5 feet wide down to just four inches at the other end) meant we were jostling knees and shuffling plates and glasses and wine bottles this way and that the entire time.
But despite that minor annoyance, the evening was spectacular.
We arrived for the 19:30 show at 17:00 due to the first-come, first-served nature of the table assignments. The hosts open table assignments about two hours before the show begins, but the Mainstage area didn’t open for seating until 18:00, so we knew we had some time to kill. We adjourned to the dark and intimate Musicquarium lounge area for a drink while we waited for the table-assignment line to form.
The Musicquarium space is dimly lighted with a bar that seats 30 or so and small tables in rows along two sides. Most of the tables have two chairs but can easily accommodate four people. The tables nearest the windows that look out on Union Street are long bar-style tables that can easily accommodate a dozen or so per table; we saw smaller groups using the tables in bunches, with a foot or two of unoccupied table space between each group.
Servers moved easily among the crowd, but we initially sat at the bar. The bartenders immediately approached and took our drink orders, and our two beers and one mixed drink arrived with no fanfare shortly after. Since we were plainly talking amongst ourselves, the bartender remained unobtrusive the entire time, swinging by to check on our drinks and asking if we’d like another round just once and at an appropriate pause in our discusison.
By the time we’d finished our first round, however, it was time to get our table assignment. All three of us left our barstools and took places in line, and shortly after we had our table assignment and had been reminded that seating wouldn’t be for another 30 minutes (and they’d hold the table until 18:30 anyway), we realized we should have held on to our bar seats. So we returned to the Musicquarium area and found one of the square tables at the far end.
We found ourselves greeted and our drink orders taken within a minute or two of sitting down. Our server noted our table-assignment slip and switched smoothly from asking about appetizers or the full dinner menu to asking if we’d been to the Triple Door before and, when Julie Anne mentioned her coconut-milk allergy, going over the entrée menu with us to point out the items that would be safe. We enjoyed two rounds of drinks and the server always kept watch over us closely to ask if we needed anything, never interrupting us outright but always waiting for the right moment to break in.
I absolutely love it when servers do that right.
Around 18:20 we moved from the Musicquarium to the host station to claim our table assignment. Our table was about halfway toward the front and to the right side of the stage from the audience’s perspective, so we had a perfect view. No tables there, however, would have bad views, but I was just as glad ours afforded a nearly straight-on view of the entire stage. There were a grand piano, a cello, a guitar, and a percussion set on-stage, and the other audience tables buzzed with conversation as the guests enjoyed their meals or sipped wine, cocktails, or coffee.
Our server immediately explained how things would work. There would be full food and beverage service throughout the performance. The opening act would start at 19:15 or so, with the main act starting an hour or so later, and the servers would be happy to get us anything we needed at any point.
That’s when the sommelier approached and asked me about a wine choice, and with his guidance I chose a 2003 Naiades Verdejo Rueda, a Spanish varietal and label I hadn’t encountered before. It’s a barrel-fermented wine with enough acidity to go well with food in general, and I quite liked it with the chicken entrée I chose.
Julie Anne and I sipped at the wine while Katharine enjoyed a Tequila Sunrise, and we ordered some of the spectacularly flavorful and perfectly cooked pot stickers as we chatted before the show began.
The appetizers finished and the opening act begun, we settled back to listen to David Berkeley’s spare guitar-and-voice set. Vienna Teng accompanied Mr. Berkeley on one of his later songs, but the majority of his set was his own glory, and quite an experience it was. His voice and his guitar matched perfectly, and the time flew by. His set lasted an hour and we had a fifteen-minute break before Ms. Teng took the stage, so we placed our dinner order.
I chose the twice-cooked chicken, a dish of free-range chicken that is first deep-fried and then grilled, and served with roti bread. I’m not enough of a foodie (yet, perhaps) to recall exactly what the flavors were, but I was incredibly pleased. The only thing I hadn’t expected was that I wasn’t really hungry when my meal arrived, so I finished perhaps half.
Julie Anne chose the Angkor Wat chicken, a dish of free-range chicken with spicy black beans, peanuts, and sesame seeds, wok-fried with red and green peppers and onion. I didn’t taste her dish but it smelled absolutely wonderful.
Katharine ordered another round of pot stickers (she’s quite the connoisseur) along with some chicken fried rice which she pronounced the finest she’d tasted anywhere.
Our meals were served shortly after Vienna Teng’s set began, when the lights had dimmed and we couldn’t see our plates very well. I spent a few minutes chasing the small bits of chicken around my plate before it occurred to me that I could use my knife to hold things in place while I speared them with my fork, and my meal proceeded smoothly after that.
The flavors of my chicken dish mixed perfectly with the wine and the music, and the entire evening ranks first among my live-music experiences. Our dessert, a vanilla bean crème brulee, and the coffee that accompanied it both figured directly into this as well, mirroring the music’s sweet ending to a perfect evening.
I now have The Triple Door among my web browser’s favorites and I check the performance calendars regularly. I’m absolutely looking forward to returning and heartily recommend it as a performance venue with a fine restaurant experience.