One of the more unique dinner theatre venues in Seattle, Washington is Café Nordo. Since 2009, Nordo has developed numerous live shows and original music combined with award-winning innovative cuisine which provided incredibly clever, immersive experiences for their guests. Nordo has received a number of Seattle Times’ Footlight Awards for “Excellence in Theater” and a Seattle Weekly’s “Best Chef in Seattle” award in 2018. By 2020, the company was developing up to seven different productions a year. And then Covid-19 hit.
“In our home, artists serve one another and the broader community,” says the company. “We believe in our artists being paid fairly, our food being sourced locally, and our work being brave, educational and always entertaining.” But that is hard to do when your venue is closed due to a pandemic.
Like so many other businesses, Nordo had to reinvent itself if it was to survive and what they did to pivot their business was sheer genius. They began offering what is now known as the Nordo Room Service box series where people can enjoy a similar dessert theatre experience right in their own living room.
Recently I was given one of the three “experience-in-a-boxes” to try myself with my wife for an in-home date night. The package called “The Interrogation of Alice” kit, which came packed with case files, puzzles, evidence photos and tasty treats, is pretty genius.
Upon receiving the package on my doorstep, I opened to the box to find a black-wrapped package tied with a red ribbon and an envelope that contained instructions on how to proceed. While we were told to not go through all of the items included in the kit until instructed, we were able to find a box labeled “Drink Me” and another “Eat Me”, both references to Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland book. There was also a letter addressed to “Somebody” from “The Writing Desk That is Like a Raven” sent from White Rabbit Offices. Within the letter we discovered that “a pernicious, precocious, capricious young person has broken into and disrupted Wonderland” and that our help was needed to help with the interrogations. We were then given a website link to follow the White Rabbit to where the proceedings had already taken place.
We were given access to view the proceedings through a two-way mirror alongside the White Queen and Red Queen, two characters featured in Carrol’s second Alice story, Through the Looking Glass. But before we got too far into things, we took a break to prepare a “Soft Spot of Tea” to enjoy with our “Eat Me at High Tea Biscuits”. The kit contained everything needed to make the mocktail tea concoction (including a fresh lemon!), but you can add your libation to give it a kick. And then, it was back to work!
Similar to an escape room, this two-hour adventure bounced back and forth from watching more videos and working through a series of puzzles included in the kit in order to solve a mystery. It’s amazing how much they were able to cram into this box. We genuinely had a great time figuring it all out. Some puzzles were fairly easy to complete while we found others very challenging.
Overall, this was a great experience, but I would recommend this particular experience for those who are lovers of the original Alice tales. The humor and storyline in the videos rely heavily on Carrol’s original works, something that I was familiar with, but my wife was not. Some references went over our heads and some of the instructions were difficult to understand since they were written in “Wonderland” speak. Fortunately, they are some places where help is given when we got stuck.
This fantasy adventure is terribly creative and makes for a great Christmas gift idea. Nordo offers three, very different Room Service Boxes that can be sent nationwide and if you order by December 19th, they will arrive in time for Christmas. However, you can send these boxes any time of year or even send a gift card to be used whenever the recipient is ready to partake in an adventure at home.
Other boxes available are:
Do Not Disturb: Unlock The Spectral Curse of Hotel Nordo
Included in the kit: Two Mini Cherry Velvet Fudge Cakes, the Earhart “Mocktail” Kit, a commemorative Hotel cocktail shaker, antique iron key for you stay!
The Witching Hour: A Monster Comedy Told in Rituals, Puzzles and Elixirs
‘The Witching Hour’ box casts you as a new initiate to the Society of Nocturnal Mysteries. When your docent accidentally rips the Fabric of Darkness it’s up to you to solve the riddle and decipher the secret codes.
Included in the Kit: Fairy Mine Pie (chocolate chess pie with intrigue chocolate cocoa nibs, Himalayan salt and candy crystals in a gluten-free almond crust)
Each complete kit sells for $117. (Look for a coupon off your first order!)
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free product in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates, in any way.
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.