Vacation! Vacation! I am visiting my sister in Seattle for the week. I think I booked this reservation about 14 seconds after I booked my flight. I have been dying to go to Canlis ever since I saw it on Top Chef and was jealous that my sister has already been. I was so excited and certainly not disappointed. First of all – the restaurant sits high above Lake Union with a scenic view.
And now for the reason I right this blog – the food. This is fine fine fine dining at its best. They iron the napkins and the table cloth (that is after they change the table clothes so perfectly, you can’t even see the base of the table). We received 3 different menus full of choices and decisions, we needed time so we started with a Arc De Cézanne: Cappelletti, Suze, sparkling wine, and sliced granny smith green apples.
In the end we went with our initial intent and request from the original reservation. The tasting menu – one mostly vegan and one mostly normal. We also went with the classic wine pairing even though the sommelier pairing sounded twice as good; it is also almost twice as much. With every plate, the chef found a way for the flavors of both intensify and meld together in with each mouthful. This ranks among some of the best meals/experiences I have had. Every dish, every pairing and every employee speaks to why Canlis is given top ratings.
Moments after we ordered we had an amuse-bouche – six different nibbles for the table – complements of the chef. My favorite was the chorizo tater tot, held into the dish with a spicy southwestern style dipping sauce. Karen’s favorite was cherry puree shaped in to a lollipop with a hardened pistachio coating.
In terms of some of my favorite tasting plates, I am going to cover a few. I think by the time it was over we had 9 or 10 courses and 6 glasses of wine. If you want to see the full menu – skip ahead to the bottom of the post…
Our first course of soups was the most distinctive and surprising. I had a chilled cantaloupe soup infused with mint and topped with yogurt and a few lavender flowers. Karen had one of our favorites of the night. A warm, earthy, bright green pea soup; fantastic – I think she even commented that it tasted like 40 peas pureed into each bite. We also had at least 4 dinner rolls – a sourdough bread with fennel and lemon – using our firsts as a “sponge for your soup”. Did I mention these were baked to order?? Or that they are served with both olive oil and butter and an adorable little container of sea salt? Better yet, once you finished a roll, they asked you if you wanted another – so you don’t feel like a bread fatty asking for more and more and more. Problem is, they are so good, it’s hard to say no.
My third course was fluke, which is a part of the founder family: white flat lean fish.It has a very firm texture, but a sweet mildly fishy flavor. If you asked me if berries and fish went together, I would have said – no… no… absolutely not. But, I would be incorrect. The Chef expertly matched this with ripe red strawberries and pickled green strawberries. Let’s pause there for moment. These are the same strawberries as the red ones, just not quite ripe. The texture is a bit firmer and the tartness created a nice acidity to cut the sweetness in the dish. I also really liked the spicy peppery notes from the tiny shoots of fresh wasabi.
Karen was lucky enough to have the roasted cauliflower – which she considers the best cauliflower she has ever had, if not one of the best vegetarian main dishes ever. This is a hearty vegetable dish if I have ever tasted one. It is cut thick like a steak and then roasted to a crispy golden brown and served with maitake mushrooms and then drizzled with a champagne vinaigrette. The cauliflower is buttery and savory and really meshes with the earthy mushrooms. There are also some dollops of a wonderful cauliflower puree which simply amplified the temptingness.
We ended with two sweet dishes and then some more. There was a strawberry dish that had macerated strawberries, strawberry wafers and strawberry sorbet. As delish as that sounds, that wasn’t the star of the night.
Once again, we both ended up with our idea of a perfect dish. I had honey glazed apricots – fresh apricots, not those dried, shriveled up ones served with an apricot ice cream and little squared of chocolate ganache and crushed almonds. To me this was a perfect mesh texture with both sweet and tart flavors. I am not a huge chocolate fan, but I loved this rich, dark, and faultlessly smooth ganache.
Karen had the mille-fuille, which we appropriately renamed the banana, banana, chocolaty thing – which in her words is described as “perfect”. She says this is the best dessert she has ever had – a mix of banana puree, chocolate and caramel.
The sommelier created some excellent pairings that enhanced the meal. All but the last was perfect for my palate. I’m not sure I know enough about wine to really do justice to our pairing situation, so I will leave you with this picture.
And as if that wasn’t enough – we were offered as many macaroons – poppy-seed or pistachio – as we could eat. Plus, we walked a way with a raspberry chamomile chocolate bar with the restaurants name in raised letters.