I don’t intend for this to be a “one against the other” kind of thing. The reason I’m writing about these two places, The Pink Door and Can Can Seattle, together is that when I’ve mentioned Can Can to people in the past, they immediately tell me I should go to The Pink Door. They are both located around Pike Place Market and they both do dinner and shows. They each have their place, depending on what you’re looking for and… *ahem* your level of comfort. I’m mentioning the food here, because there is food at each, but really what I want to convince you to do is see the show. (Hopefully at Can Can!) I love to eat food, I love to talk about food, I love to look at food and read about food and fantasize about food and travel for food… but writing about food is not my forte. Just believe me when I say something tastes good. Lastly, photos of the show are not permitted, so if you’re wondering why I’ve only posted pics of walls and food and interiors, that’s why.
After over eight years of living in Seattle and hearing about The Pink Door, we finally went for dinner and the show a few weeks ago. Getting tickets anytime, especially in the Summer is no easy feat, even for “locals”. You can make reservations (or try to just walk-in) for dinner any time. The “show” is Saturdays only and ticket prices do not include dinner. They release ticket dates for purchase for only three weeks at a time and I checked daily for the dates that we wanted. Given how much I hate crowds and usually avoid Pike Place, of course we decided to do this in the Summer.
We arrived early, thinking we could maybe hang out at the bar and have a drink beforehand, but they need to empty out dining area completely to prepare for the show. We started to walk around Pike Place but quickly got fed up with the crowds and chose to stand outside The Pink Door and wait to be seated. (People arriving for the show and who have tickets line up for the show to the LEFT, with the restaurant at your back, of actual Pink Door of the restaurant’s namesake. People without tickets who are hoping to take the spot of a no-show line up to the right.) I had purchased tickets for the dining room floor and we were seated fairly close to the small, corner stage.
First up, you order dinner and there’s some time between ordering and the start of the show (which is a good thing.) If you go to The Pink Door for nothing else, go for dinner. The food really is phenomenal. I had the bolognese, which I tend to do everywhere because I’m almost as obsessed with a good bolognese as I am with cheese. We also got an antipasto platter which was absolutely perfect – what I remember most were the lovely, orange and garlic marinated olives. There was also cheese, of course, and I believe I remember some romesco. For once, I didn’t write down or snap a picture of everything we ate. (Truth be told, I love taking pics of food in order to remember it but I feel obnoxious, so I haven’t been doing it much.) Husband got something with seafood (again, oops! Didn’t write it down and he’s at work at the moment.) I would really love to go back for just dinner or even lunch – perhaps in the Winter next time!
Now, as for the show. Perhaps we’d have enjoyed it more had we not been to the Can Can already. Perhaps. My assessment comes down to this: The show at the Can Can is the main event. The show at The Pink Door feels more of a side dish. The show at TPD is fine. I’m glad we saw it. It wasn’t bad by any means, we just had different expectations. I actually think these two places and shows shouldn’t be compared, they’re very different, however, they are often compared and lumped together. The announcer/mc felt very rehearsed and overall the show in generally had a feeling of being very constrained. There was a little bit of spice, it’s definitely not a G-rated show. The performers did their thing, but I didn’t catch much eye contact with the audience, I didn’t get a sense that they enjoy what they do or were happy to be doing their thing at the moment. Until! Until Keke came out and did his thing. Keke was amazing – he was smiling and engaging with people and looked like he was having a blast. They should give him his own show at TPD. But guess what? As soon as he came out, I said to husband, “Isn’t that the guy from The Can Can?” (Yes, yes it was. He used to perform at The Can Can, we asked to be sure.)
TPD show was a lot of wiggling and bending for bending’s sake – of one performer I thought, “Oh, she does yoga in her spare time.” As I said, it was a side dish. I was happy to enjoy it while eating dinner and it was nice to look up and see the action. I didn’t feel like they cared that we were there, ya know?
So now, let’s talk about my clear favorite, when it comes to performance – Can Can Seattle. If you want to see a show, if you want to be wowed and your sensibilities are not easily offended, go see the show (any show) at Can Can. The first time we went, we only got drinks. This second time around we reserved the “dinner and show”, for which we chose from a menu of three course offerings. I chose the “Fallen Angel”. Their wine selection is solid and I enjoyed my suggested cocktail pairing so much that I got two. (It was called “Bees Knees”, if I remember correctly. Gin, lemon, honey simple syrup.) First, Husband and I shared a side of pommes frites with parmesan and truffle. You can’t go wrong with pommes frites. Actually, yes you can – I’ve had some bad pommes frites that were overwhelmed with truffle and salt, but these were not those. I chose a three course pairing that began with cauliflower fritters and these fritters were worth the entire dinner. I had to share with husband because his choice had him starting with a quinoa and kale salad which was good, but it was not fritters. If the choice is ever salad versus fried food, the latter always wins. My main was chicken thighs confit which was *so close* to being really, really good but was lacking a little seasoning. A touch of salt would have bumped that right up. I’m not complaining though because those cauliflower fritters were everything. Lastly, my desert was a small square of “pretzel chocolate fudge” which tasted really good but I’m not gonna lie, the candied caramel was tough to eat (as in “I’m afraid this is going to pull off one of my crowns”.) I enjoyed dinner overall and I really enjoyed those cocktails!
Now, let’s talk about la pièce de résistance! The show!
The shows at Can Can are amazing. They are inexpressibly fun and the performers always seem to give 150%. One thing that makes the Can Can shows so wonderful is that the performers are so thoroughly engaged with the audience. I remember getting a little giggly when one of the dancers made eye contact with me as she was gyrating across the catwalk. You may not feel like the only person in the room, but you do you have moments of feeling like they see just you in a room full of people. Jonny Boy, the MC and one of the performers, has a well honed talent for delivery of one-liners and perfect, snappy responses to audience members as he’s asking them questions. Every show is smart, raunchy in the right way, and impressive to watch. Each show is based around one cohesive theme.
(One thing that fell apart for me at the Pink Door was that each performer did their own thing, there was nothing tying them all together. The “theme” was a pageant but it didn’t feel cohesive. Perhaps it’s not always this way.)
The Can Can plans and orchestrates every moment of their themed show – music, costumes, performances, etc. There’s a small stage up front and then a skinny (oh so skinny) catwalk down the middle. There are tables around the room but there’s bar-style seating lining each side of the catwalk. Last time we sat at a table in the back corner of the room, this time we were seated along the catwalk. I thought the moves were impressive from the back of the room. Once you’re seated at the catwalk and realize just how precise their movements are, just how exact the landing of each foot and each wave of a scarf needs to be in order to do the move without kicking a patron in the head it becomes a thousand times more impressive. And that is what makes it such a good time at the Can Can – the combination of the enjoyment of the performance itself with the skill and practice involved in putting it together.
Bonus: The Can Can is much easier to get tickets for than that other place. *wink* So what are you waiting for? Go buy yourself some tickets and check them out. ASAP. Full event list can be viewed and tickets can be purchased on their website.
The Can Can is located at 94 Pike Street in Seattle. If you, like us, live on the dreaded “Eastside”, don’t drive. It is easily accessible by bus – take the 255, hop off at West Lake Center or The Convention Center (which I prefer, since it’s outdoors and above ground) and walk down. As you’re walking through downtown and getting close to Pike Place, marvel at the increase in crowds. Encourage the tourists to go to Can Can. Maybe stop for a baby cake cupcake at another of our favorites, Cupcake Royale on Pine St.