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Dec 3, 2009 12:29 AM

My review of Canlis-OUTSTANDING!

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. 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. *****

Canlis Restaurant
2576 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

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  1. Thank you for your feedback. I always enjoy hearing other's experiences for perspective.

    1. I have to agree with you on that Canlis is an absolutely wonderful restaurant. Not only is the food amazing, but they really understand that service truly matters. Once I booked a room (I believe it was called the executive room) for a small party, and they brought out such huge wonderful portions of food. Towards the the end of the event, all the guests were moaning with joyful dismay (happy because they get to gorge on such generous five star menu, dismay because they are way too stuffed). They truly go OUT OF THEIR WAY to make sure every single one of the guests are happy.

      1. Thanks for the very descriptive review, but could you please tell us what such a dinner costs?

        1. I second the request for the grand total cost of your meal.

          3 Replies
          1. re: itsonlyfood

            Assuming that Jimmy and his wife didn’t split an appetizer, salad, or desert, and assuming they chose the least expensive Woodward Canyon cab, the cost for two, including tax and tip, should have run around $375 or so, more if they chose a more expensive Woodward Canyon cab. If you want to figure out the cost of a meal at Canlis, all you have to do is go to its website, make your menu and wine selections, and add tax and tip.

            1. re: Tom Armitage


              Would you say that Canlis, with the new chef, is a must-do experience? I've been there, but prior to his arrival. My birthday is coming up, and I have been mulling over Corson Building...or Elemental...but some of the ground rules at those are mildly annoying.

              1. re: equinoise

                Well, for what it's worth, I can't think of a better place than Canlis to celebrate a birthday. I love Corson Building, although my wife isn't a fan of the family-style "pass-the-plate" format, and thinks that the wait between courses drags out the evening too long, even though you can go out and schmooze with Matt and Emily in the kitchen while you're waiting. Doesn't bother me all that much, particularly since I enjoy chatting with Matt and Emily, but Corson Building isn't exactly the kind of place I'd go to without my wife. At least, unless she's out of town. (I'm not ready for another divorce.) I like Elemental too, and you are reminding me that it's been too long since I've been there. But, as you know, Canlis is in a different league, with a totally different ambience, than Elemental. Let's put it this way. My wife owes me a birthday dinner, and asked me where I'd like her to take me. My answer, "Canlis.:" Besides, she's paying. Lucky me!