Canlis or Herb Farm = the hype?
I'm planning a birthday dinner, mine! I have to admit, I was thinking about Mistral since it's been a while since we've dined there but the Lampreia/Mistral post has me second guessing now that I know there's new staff in the kitchen. In trying to think of other "special occasion" type places that I haven't been to yet and I came up with Canlis and Herb Farm for starters. I have to admit I have not eaten at either restaurant yet because for whatever reason I pegged them as well marketed and well hyped but not really delivering fine food. So I have to ask, are either of these two establishments really worth a visit if you're an anal diner who fully expects the food to equal the pr ink that's been spilled over these two?? Thanks in advance for your .02!
I haven't been to the Herb Farm, but we did go to Canlis for our anniversary dinner this last year. I really, really enjoyed it. They started us off with a little sample of an apple and celery (I *think* it was celery...I can't remember now!) soup that I thought was delightful. My boyfriend wasn't too hot on it, but I suspect it was because of the cinnamon and nutmeg that was sprinkled on top. We followed it with a beet salad and calamari. The calamari wasn't anything more special that what I've had at most restaurants, though. For our entrees I had a wagyu steak (I can't remember what type of cut although I remember it being rather large, but not a ton of fat) and a lamb dish. Both were incredible. The meat was cooked to perfection on both plates and the mushroom side dish I ordered was sooooo wonderful. We did order a panna cotta dessert and while it was very good, it was just too rich for me so I could only really eat a few bites (it was BIG panna cotta, too).
The highlight of the evening was the sommelier...a truly delightful Alton Brown-lookalike who was very keen on finding us some very cool and unique wines that *I* could enjoy (I don't do well with reds...instant migraine). He found us a truly fantastic white made in Austria out of a really rare grape. My boyfriend wrote it down and I have the name somewhere, but unfortunately I don't know what it was called off the top of my head.
Anyways, we had absolutely wonderful service and the view...sooooo wonderful. Personally I thought it was a great romantic restaurant and I hope to go back someday.
My husband and I are frequent visitors to your city. We haven't been to Canlis; but have been to the Herb Farm and thought the food, wine, ambiance, and service live up to it's "hype". It truly is a special event night of dining; however, I add this cautionary note...we ate at a communal table and had wonderful company and conversation which added to the fun of the night. If you dine at a communal table, your tablemates can make or break the evening. If you choose a table for just the two of you, be prepared for a very long evening alone at that table as the dinner is an entire event/night lasting (at least when we went) four hours.
I think we've written lots about Canlis if you search...I was there a few months ago and while I enjoyed the experience overall, the food didn't blow me away. Our non-foodie friends loved it, but I wasn't impressed. We did the tasting menu and that might have been the mistake-perhaps if you order tried and true standards, they might do that better. Or if you are going with a group that is not that into food, it would be a good pick (my parents would love it).
if you go to Herb Farm be sure to check before you reserve that the main chef Jerry Traunfeld is in that night, otherwise i would wait until he is. Also Sundays are better since dinner starts earlier on Sundays, you can do the organized garden tour outside while it is still light out (if it isn't raining), and get home earlier. if you haven't been it's worth going at least once. the communal table can be a lot of fun.
Canlis is a very expensive version of Sizzler. As a Chowhound, you can do much better in Seattle. I suggest Rovers or Le Gourmand.
I think my dislike of the Herbfarm is pretty well documented so I won't add to that.
I've been to a couple of dinners at Canlis recently and while they were good, they weren't interesting in any way. And the sommelier that marrianas talks about is no longer there.
I've had good meals and bad meals at Mistral, but it's been a while since I've been. I need to go back to get a current feel for the place.
Le Gourmand is a great suggestion. I always love that place.