I have seen some great and no so great reviews of this restaurant on this site in the past and having just dined there in November, I felt compelled to post my experience.
The wife and I received a great recommendation on Canlis from a good friend that is the food and beverage director of The Coeur d'Alene Resort. He's fairly connected to the restaurant scene in Seattle and offered to call up and make our reservation. The website looked great, I read some reviews here and agreed to check it out.
I was immediately impressed with the layout of the entrance. Reminded me of great Northwest syle homes and buildings we have here in North Idaho. Great vibe entering the restaurant-obviously very fine dining but absolutely inviting. We checked in and the service director/maitre'D, Mr. Kim warmly greeted us. We felt at home immediately. We were sat promptly in a nice corner table which we found out was the table where Peter Canlis always sat at so he could see everything going on. Gorgeous settings and very comfortable. Okay, now to the goods.
The martini list was presented and mostly because I didn't see a table starting without one, we each ordered one. I opted for the Manattan and my wife a more "feminine" flavored selection. This was no ordinary Manhattan and I enjoyed it to the last drop. We then selected a bottle of Woodward Canyon Cab and were ready to sample the fare. Our server brough out a nice little Chef's starter, a celery soup that got the taste buds working. We decided on the Peter Canlis prawns for an appetizer, and they were to die for. They supplied the perfect amount of heat and lived up to the reputation. Great start.
We both ordered the Canlis salad which came with some tasty, warm bread. I must say, I probably won't order the salad again, but it had more to do with the fact that I am more of a hearty dressing fan. The components were beyond fresh to say the least. On to the entree.
I'm a seafood guy when I go to Seattle so I had already sold myself on ordering fish, shellfish, crustacean, something of the sea. However, our server, Wanda, sold my wife on the Muscovey Duck for two-I obliged as "momma's happy, everyone's happy" :) They brought the bird out to present it to us pre arrangement. My experiences with Muscovey Duck have been hit and miss. This was knocked out of the park. The outside was wonderfully crisp and flavorful while the duckmeat itself was flawlessly tender and moist. We both requested additional pepper jam as it added a great sweet/heat feature to the entree. We shared a side of forest mushrooms that complemented the duck very nicely. Meanwhile, I am eyeballing desserts being brough to neigboring tables.
We finished off with the doughnuts-a selection of banana and caramel filled doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce and a scoop of peanut butter ice cream. I ordered my signature heated snifter of Grand Marnier and I was in heaven.
I was not ready to leave this Garden of Eden quite yet so our server prepared a small table in the lounge to take in some music. The piano player was tickling the ivories to everything under the sun, even renditions of Lady Gaga and Metallica. The last few glasses of wine in the lounge capped off a remarkably memorable evening.
Bottom line, the food was tremendous. Not to discount this fact, but I have had tremendous EATING experiences at many a restaurant. I felt the difference with Canlis was the DINING experience. They.just.do.it.right. The detail to service was what you would want if you, yourself, were operating a fine dining establishment. It was professional, honest and above all-GENUINE. You are made to feel as though your experience is a celebration even if you are not necessarily celebrating anything in particular. Not in an over the top way, but in a seamless and comforting way. We were encouraged to take all the time in the world to enjoy ourselves. We left our hotel at 5:45 for our 6:00 reservation and arrived back a little after 10:00.
So in closing, consider me a proud supporter of Canlis. We felt as though we were special guests of The Canlis Family that night along with Mr. Kim, Wanda and the rest of the team. We were originally coming to Seattle to see Billy Joel and Elton John. The show was cancelled a week before but we decided to get out of town nonetheless. They just rescheduled the show for February 6th-my birthday-and we already have a reservation set, in Wanda's section, at Canlis for the night before. This time we'll actually have something specific to celebrate...although I'd go back there any day of the year to "celebrate" spending an evening there. *****
2576 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109