My wife and I finally got a chance to go to Canteen last night, for the 9:15pm prix-fixe seating. I thought it was really top-notch, other than the sort-of awkward waiting set-up they have. When we got there, our table wasn't ready (they do three seatings, so if one of the earlier groups stays late, you're out-of-luck). I could tell it was annoying to the waiter, as their only option is to send guests into the hotel lobby to sit and wait for their seats, and as soon as the host pours you a drink and brings it out, he invariably has to seat you moments later. But whatever - I love the idea of a prix-fixe restaurant - it makes me more adventurous, and I'm sure it's more inspiring for the chef - so I can put up with the downside (set seating times, etc.).
We started off with a Cava (the Cremant Rose champagne on the menu was out-of-stock, unfortunately), and sat down. Immediately, we were brought a shot glass containing a delicious tomato gelee, with a bit of avocado in it. This is a perfect example of why I love prix-fixe dining. I wouldn't have normally ordered this, since I "don't like" avocado very much. However, in this dish, it was perfect. The gelee was a cold, perfect distillation of tomato flavor, with the tiny pieces of avocado providing a bit of balance to the tartness.
The first real course was a set of two discs of chopped fish, with a pile of thin-sliced cucumber on top, and a pomegranate-vinegar dressing splashed on the plate. It was awesome. One fish was chopped wild salmon tartare, and the other was house-smoked bluefish. They both were great, although I think it worked better to eat the salmon first, as the smoked bluefish was much stronger than the delicate tartare. The dressing worked with both fish, surprisingly - with the slamon, it provided a bit of acidity, and with the bluefish, it provided a bit of sweetness. Very cool.
We then switched to red wine (a decent, but nothing special Grenache/Syrah) for the main course - lamb cooked in a fig leaf (I think - it wasn't served wrapped). There were a few pieces of lamb tenderloin, and a lamb leg braciola, with garlic (basically, they took a lamb leg, deboned it, and rolled the meat up with some garlic and parsley). Both were great. The tenderloin meat was cuttable with a butter knife, and the leg meat was pretty good too. Maybe a bit too much garlic. The meat was served very rare, but it was high-quality stuff, so it was fine. It came with roasted onions and figs (both sweet and tasty), and a pile of the most perfect sauteed baby spincah I've had in a long time. Not even a hint of the metallic taste you often get with spinach.
Dessert was a piece of vanilla pound cake, with a sauce of nectarines and a bit of either vanilla ice cream, or creme anglaise (if it was ice cream, it was pretty melted). It was yummy too, but maybe not as mind-blowing as the rest of the meal. If I hadn't been so tired at that point, I would have had a glass of Sauternes, but we were both starting to nod off.
All in all, an amazing meal. If it wasn't for the horrific parking situation (ok, and maybe the prices... ;) ), I think we'd be there all the time. Total dinner (with two glasses of champagne and two glasses of wine) was about $110, before tip - a bit pricey, considering it is prix-fixe, but not bad for a special occasion.
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