HOME > Chowhound > Greater Seattle >

Discussion

CANLIS - A 'Very Mixed' experience!

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!

    Image Title (Optional)
    Caption (Optional)
    Image Credit (Optional)
    Copy to all
    Image Title (Optional)
    Caption (Optional)
    Image Credit (Optional)
    Copy to all
    Image Title (Optional)
    Caption (Optional)
    Image Credit (Optional)
    Copy to all
    Image Title (Optional)
    Caption (Optional)
    Image Credit (Optional)
    Copy to all
    Image Title (Optional)
    Caption (Optional)
    Image Credit (Optional)
    Copy to all
    Image Title (Optional)
    Caption (Optional)
    Image Credit (Optional)
    Copy to all
    Image Title (Optional)
    Caption (Optional)
    Image Credit (Optional)
    Copy to all
    Image Title (Optional)
    Caption (Optional)
    Image Credit (Optional)
    Copy to all
    Image Title (Optional)
    Caption (Optional)
    Image Credit (Optional)
    Copy to all
  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Thanks for your report. I'm especially curious about the bread. Too much salt inhibits yeast, so I'm wondering if it was nicely risen like normal bread, or was the excess salt on top?

    1 Reply
    1. re: babette feasts

      Excess salt was on the crust ( which was delightfully crunchy/crispy though! )

       
    2. Hi, Charles:

      Sorry you weren't wowed. I hope the rest of your trip goes better.

      The older I get, and the more "better" restaurant experiences I get around the world (especially new places), the more I've realized that expectations can sometimes get in my way. Set and setting being what they are, and the fickleness of taste and smell memory being what it is, I *try* not to have a lot in the way of expectation. No Nobile Montepulciano I buy here is going to wow me the way the identical wine would on a terrazo in Tuscany, poured by the vintner.

      With restaurants, the difficulty of my being able to set most expectations aside is directly proportional to price/ranking/stars, and I catch myself--embarrassingly often--being hypercritical and unwowed. In my case (putting none of this on you), I have managed to unilaterially snatch an unpleasant time from the jaws of the quite good. This has occasionally left me wondering if I wasted my time ferreting out reviews and suggestions, including (heresy, I know) here on Chowhound.

      With the globalization of haute cuisine and the proliferation of truly gifted chefs who literally go everywhere, there simply cannot be the huge margin of difference my expectations sometimes presume.

      Gristly steak is another matter, entirely...

      Cheers,
      Kaleo

      8 Replies
      1. re: kaleokahu

        I pretty much agree with what you've said here, K.

        The higher the price and/or the more highly recommended the restaurant, the higher are my expectations, and the lower the likelihood I'll enjoy my meal. It's for this reason that I am hesitant to visit the "best" restaurants in the towns where I frequent or have recently lived (Charleston in Baltimore, the Inn at Little WA in DC, Herbfarm or Canlis in Seattle, the Kitchen in Sacramento, or French Laundry in Yountville).

        Instead, I spend my money at less famous but also excellent restaurants in each town above that I view as 'under-rated', or outstanding but not pretentious, mainly because it's unlikely I'll waddle away feeling ripped off.

        About the uncuttable sinew in the striploin, I agree that they should have sacrificed a bit of the size of the portion they presented to you and should have removed that segment prior to preparing it. It might have decreased the wow-factor in the presentation, but it would have prevented the disappointment. I would be pissed. Especially if you're going to charge me a premium for that dish... you better nail it.

        I tend to have the same feeling regarding espresso houses that charge 4.50 for a 12 oz latte. Fine, but if you F%&$ it up, expect hellfire on my review.

        1. re: alarash

          Agree with you about the steak!
          If I am sarcastic like a Gordon Ramsey, when our lady server came to pick up my plate, I could have remarked pointing to the grisly left over - ' Guess this is worth the $20 premium?! '

          1. re: Charles Yu

            That is too bad. We had the Wagyu striploin at Canlis when we visited end of June and no such issues. It wasn't as tender as a tenderloin would have been but nothing remotely uncuttable or sinewy, and of course excellent flavour. Let's hope your experience was an unfortunate anomaly, rather than ours!

            I had some gristle in my steak tartare which was also made from the Wagyu and I wondered about that, but it was only one quite small piece so I didn't follow up. Did the server ask about why you had hacked up the pieces you left but didn't eat them?

            1. re: grayelf

              No! She did not. I was actually surprised by her 'no response'.

              1. re: grayelf

                I wonder if part of the training/excellent service is NOT to inquire about what guests do or don't clean off their plates. Since you ate a large portion, you might have been consciously choosing not to eat all of what is a whopper of a steak for personal reasons of diet or whatever.

                1. re: grayelf

                  Most probably the case! The steak was quite a chunk! Must be a 14 'ouncer'?!

                2. re: grayelf

                  I wondered the same thing. I am always shocked when a server doesn't inquire if there was a problem when they take a plat with a significant amount of food left on it, especially at a nice place.

                  1. re: alarash

                    It's hard to tell from Charles' pic but if his striploin was of a similar size to the one we were served, eating 75% of it is a bit of a stunt, especially after amuses, bread and apps. My SO is no piker but he couldn't have finished his without some help from yours truly :-).

          2. So looks like you're wowed more by the front of the house folks than by the kitchen, Charles.

            1. We have a reservation here soon and this is quite disappointing to hear.

              Is there still a view at 8:30pm-9pm?

              TIA

              7 Replies
              1. re: revets2

                Sunset tonight is at 8:01 pm, so tonight the light will be winding down between 8:30 and 9. Despite Charles Yu's recent bad experience, they have not disappointed me yet, and hopefully your visit will be successful as well.

                1. re: Gizmo56

                  Thanks, Gizmo! So the view is unremarkable after sunset?

                  1. re: revets2

                    It is still remarkable.

                    You'll see the skyline, the lights in the buildings reflected in the water, lights on the boats; it is beautiful.

                    I just meant to say that if you wanted to have the entire sunset experience, going from full sunlight to full city-under the stars, your reservation time is just a little bit late at this time in Summer to catch much of the start of the twilight.

                    1. re: Gizmo56

                      Thanks again. Super helpful. Appreciate it!

                      1. re: revets2

                        A pleasure. Enjoy your visit to Seattle, and please let us know about your impressions after dining at Canlis, or elsewhere if you make a switch.

                      2. re: Gizmo56

                        And by skyline, Gizmo56 means A skyline, not THE skyline. It faces East overlooking the North end of Lake Union so it's not the downtown skyline. Still pretty, just no Space Needle, etc.

                        1. re: Lauren

                          Yes, absolutely, I should have mentioned that. Thanks.

                2. Since this looks to be the most recent Canlis thread, thought I'd post about the impending chef change here: http://seattle.eater.com/2014/10/27/6...