Açaí berries source from the açaí palm tree, hanging like gothic chandeliers beneath quivering fronds. The tree thrives in the Amazon, particularly in Brazil, and the berries carry a deep purple hue. Due to clever marketing, açaí berries are perceived by many to be a superfood, although their health benefits are middling compared to other fruits. Regardless of the nutrient shaming, açaí is a fruit and therefore a good source of antioxidants, fiber, heart-healthy fats, and calcium. Deep Purpl (why am I suddenly hearing the opening strums of “Smoke on the Water”?) layers açaí sorbet with a plethora of customer-chosen ingredients into sedimentary masterpieces of fruit, fresh, and flavor.
The staff at Deep Purpl are helpful if you are a newbie to the bowl scene. You first choose your bowl size and then your layers/toppings. If you start with the small size, you are limited to four additions (this is more about room than stinginess), but you can have it all with the larger sizes. I say “bowls,” but the containers are really clear-plastic beverage cups, so don’t be offended (“I came here to do a bowl, dammit!”). The cups are ideal, allowing you to enjoy the art of the layering.
The purpistas will help you design a bowl that balances flavor, texture, and, depending on your culinary goals, heartiness. For example, if you are relying on your bowl for a meal, you probably want one of the protein butters in there in addition to the fruit and sorbet. If it’s busy, you’ll be asked to mark up a menu of items for the purpster to accurately conjure your creation. If it’s not busy, they may take it as you give it.
Since I usually eat the descendants of dinosaurs for lunch, I was a little concerned that my 16-ounce order including blueberries, bananas, granola, peanut butter, and cocoa nibs wouldn’t satiate, but I was surprised at how filling it was (indeed, I was fine). And flavorwise? Quite delicious. The sweeter parts of the tongue fire the most, but the layering adds a random variety of flavor to each spoonful that is quite enjoyable.
Deep Purpl started in Chicago and appears to be expanding across the country, including ours and one in San Francisco (at least). For national-chain wannabees, their web site is oddly uninformative and outdated with no backstory, no menus, and no nutritional information. Smoothies in general can be quite high in sugar, exceeding daily recommended amounts in one order, so I was curious to see how sugary their sorbet is. I’m still curious. And how the heck do you pronounce açaí? According to Good Housekeeping (a magazine I should subscribe to given the state of my house): ah-sigh-EE.
All in all, Deep Purpl is a worthy stop. The only sighing at this açaí shop are ones of pleasure.
– meh [think twice]
* OK [it’ll get the job done]
** good [solid neighborhood joint]
*** damn good [we’ll definitely be back]
**** yippity-yikes that was amazeballs [fantastic; one of the best]
***** holy sh!t [transcendental; best of the best]
each $ = $10; cost is based on a typical dinner entrée and appetizer (no drinks)
I wrote this review for the Allandale Neighbor.