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My Review of Canlis during Chef Jason Franey's Last Days

mlbartender | Jan 8, 201510:09 PM

A couple months ago, I've posted that I would be dining at Canlis for my post-Thanksgiving meal in Seattle which was also during Chef Franey's last days at the helm of the Canlis kitchen.

Overall, my experience was phenomenal. Along with the amazing food, what really made Canlis shine against the other fine dining restaurants in America besides the breathtaking views were the service and value. At $100 for a 4 course menu, it was definitely one of the most bang for your buck fine dining establishments out there. And along with the elegant ambiance, I've received the most finest service ever from the waitstaff. Michelin-starred restaurants should take cues in this regard.

I've ordered the four course menu with the Canlis Salad as a supplement. In regards to selecting which dish to charge as the supplement, they would choose the cheapest one. For my amuse bouche, I've received a Morel Tart, Rice Crisp with Wasabi-infused Tobiko, and a Tater Tot.

For my First Course, especially with me being from California with the Foie Gras Ban (just recently repealed), I went with the Foie Gras Torchon served with Dehydrated Cinnamon Meringue and Washington Apples. It came with a warm slice of Cinnamon Brioche. The Foie Gras Torchon was loaded with more meatier flavors of the duck liver which differs from my other foie gras experiences of the fattier flavors being more of the forerunners. With that being said, this distinction played well with the refreshing apple component of the dish while the Dehydrated Cinnamon Meringue served as the sweet bridge that brought them together.'

Next as it was Franey's last days at Canlis, I went with the more modern Pork Collar. The collar was sitting on Polenta and Chorizo with bits of popcorn on the top. Cutting it through, the Pork Collar was cooked beautifully. With it being moist, it had deep flavors while the polenta served to keeping them restraint while delivering another flavor profile for the dish.

After the heavier first and second courses came the famous Canlis Salad. Now, what I have to note is that the salad is meant to be more straight-forward as it existed since the beginning of the restaurant; nothing utilizing molecular gastronomy or fancy ingredients like white truffles from Italy. As I was dining for one since I knew a head of time that I wouldn't receive a presentation meant for two, I was fortunate enough to witness the waiter (who happened to be also my waiter) making the salad for the table of two next to me. As all of the components were separated into their own individual tiny bowls, the waiter then tossed all the components together in one giant wooden bowl. By the time I received mine, it came on one plate neatly presented before me as another server applied the pepper. No doubt, this is certainly one of the most freshly prepared salads I've ever tasted. The romaine lettuce and the mint were definitely crisp while of course proving their roles to cleanse the palate. In addition, the lemon juice added provided the refreshing acidity to counter the more savory bacon and Romano cheese that was used to give the salad a savory element. My only issue was that the salad may have had a tad bit too much salt. Be that as it may, it was quite fulfilling while greatly serving the purpose as an intermezzo to refresh the palate for the upcoming main course.

For my main course, I had the Pan-seared Sea Bass with Parsnip, Quinoa and Preserved Lemon. Pan-seared beautifully with a nice golden crust without the slightest blemish; the thick, moist piece of Sea Bass looked decadent as it sat on top of the other components. The moment I sliced through the fish, I immediately was able to tell that the fish was cooked to perfection (I rarely use that word) as my knife went through it consistently without encountering much resistance. And when the fish itself made contact on my tongue, a rush of emotions and thoughts when through my conscience. This is certainly not only the best cooked Sea Bass I've ever tasted, but I knew right then that this immediately was the best dish of my Seattle trip. Seasoned to the right point, the butteriness and the meatiness of the fish, in terms of flavor, were balanced at the right point especially with how generously thick the piece of fish was that greatly contributed to this effect with, of course, the fish being such skillfully prepared. Not only cooking the Sea Bass to perfection but consistently doing it for many orders is astonishing as cooking seafood, especially cooking such a thick piece as such, takes immense talent, skill and the utmost strain of one's cognitive abilities for doing so. The Quinoa definitely provided another element of texture to the dish while the Preserved Lemon provided the acidic component that's needed to invigorate the senses in order to enjoy such a beautifully prepared fish.

After that wonderful main dish, I had as my dessert the Apple Tart with Hazelnut Cremeux, Caramelized Apples and Cider Granita. Although I was excited with the dish as it had the icy granita which I wanted and needed as it seemed refreshing, I was unfortunately quite disappointed with this dessert. Let's start with what was good: it certainly looked beautiful and vibrant as the colors of each component popped out and the Washington Apples tasted splendid as my waitress mentioned of them being harvested at the peak of the season. Be that as it may, the hazelnut cremeaux was quite heavy; not only in terms of flavor but mainly in consistency of almost that of peanut butter which overwhelmed the dish. What was the main offender was the part that I was the most excited about: the cider granita. Unfortunately, it tasted more like apple vinegar rather than cider to which it soured the dish (sorry for the pun). I hope next time that I choose a dessert that completely makes up for the one I had.

Afterwards, I was given from a box two kinds of Macarons: Hazelnut Coffee and Red Velvet Cake (not pictured). They were really delicious although I was quite full from the meal.

In the end, I was given a Peanut Butter & Jelly Chocolate Bar to take home as the flavors for their chocolate bars change periodically.

Once again, it was a great meal that surpassed expectations. Without a whiff of pretentiousness, this was genuinely the most empathetic and warm service I've ever experienced from the waitstaff of a fine dining establishment. Without any sort of written reference, they memorize everyone's names listed on their reservations and no tag was necessary as they checked your coat which was quite impressive. I definitely recommend dining here for the most special of occasions here in Seattle. If you live in the area and consider yourself as someone who partakes in the culinary scene of Seattle, it is imperative that you must dine at Canlis at least once in your lifetime.

Amazing view from the Peter Canlis Table

photo credit: The Metropolitan Lounge

The Rotary Phone next to the Table

photo credit: The Metropolitan Lounge

Peter Canlis would use the phone to take reservations back in the day

Amuse Bouches

photo credit: The Metropolitan Lounge

Morel Tart, Rice Crisp with Wasabi-infused Tobiko, and a Tater Tot

Sourdough Roll with Fennel Seeds and lemon

photo credit: The Metropolitan Lounge

Foie Gras Torchon

photo credit: The Metropolitan Lounge

served with Dehydrated Cinnamon Meringue and Washington Apples. It came with a warm slice of Cinnamon Brioche (not pictured)

Pork Collar with Polenta and Chorizo with bits of popcorn on the top

photo credit: The Metropolitan Lounge

The Canlis Salad

photo credit: The Metropolitan Lounge

Pan-seared Sea Bass with Parsnip, Quinoa and Preserved Lemon

photo credit: The Metropolitan Lounge

Apple Tart with Hazelnut Cremeux, Caramelized Apples and Cider Granita

photo credit: The Metropolitan Lounge

Complementary Peanut Butter and Jelly Chocolate Bar

photo credit: The Metropolitan Lounge
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