Seeing Canlis listed at 41/100 on 'Opinionated US Top 100 restaurants list and way ahead of some of my favorite NYC Michelin star establishments like Bouley and Daniel, I was impressed and eager to give it a try. My anticipation was further heightened when I saw Chef Jason Franey's impressive credential, especially the part that he had cooked in and had a strong influence in the success of two of my favorite US restaurants - Campton Place in SF and Eleven Madison Park in NYC.
My Chowhound friend from Singapore, his foodie daughter and myself arrived at Canlis with great expectation. The welcoming team at the entrance was all smile and most friendly. Upon settling down, we opted for a 4 course a la carte dinner instead of our originally planned 7 course tasting menu. The reason being we found the tasting menu a bit un-interesting - especially the Pork meat entree.
For our meal, we had the Foie Gras, Wagyu Steak Tartare, Peter Canlis Prawns, Wagyu Filet Mignon, Wagyu Striploin, Herb crusted Lamb and for dessert, the Grand Marnier Souffle. ( http://canlis.com/food/menu/ )
Whilst the plate presentation were all outstanding, especially the Amuse Bouche and Foie Gras, food quality and taste was most inconsistent?! Ranging from spectacular to borderline horrible!!
The Foie Gras was so over the hilt salty, it was almost un-palettable! Thankfully, the delightful cherries and Pistachio mousse accompaniment rescued it from falling over the brink! BTW, the same degree of saltiness also applied to the bread?!
The $20 premium Wagyu Striploin was another border-line disaster. Whilst perfectly cooked to rare as requested. Quality of the cut was questionable. Almost a quarter of the fair sized piece of meat was tough, full of tendon strands and cannot even be cut (see photo). However, those part that were knife friendly was flavorful and tender.
Looking at how gorgeous the duck looked across the table next to us, my friend and I should have shared that! ( especially, after the meal, I recalled EMP was famous for its 'Lavender' Duck!! ).
Fortunately, for every bad side, there are good ones to balance the force of nature.
The Peter Canlis Prawns using Wild Gulf Shrimps possessed a nice textural feel of crunchy-chewiness and full of fresh umami flavor. That, coupled with the delicious sauce was a real delight to eat. The Steak Tartare and Lamb Loin were both nicely executed. However, the winner of the evening has to be the Grand Marnier Souffle. Taking only 15 minutes to prepare instead of the posted 30 minutes, this superb creation must be the lightest, fluffiest and tastiest Souffle I have ever had outside of France! Bravo to the dessert chef!
All in all, still an enjoyable dining experience made memorable by not the food or view but the superlatively professional and friendly service!