Since I got to travel on business expenses to Seattle, I wanted to eat at all the premiere locations. Canlis was one of the restaurants that came up in a lot of searches and consistently got really great reviews, and with good reason.
First of all, let’s talk about the service. Canlis easily has the best service I’ve ever had at a restaurant – the waiter always kept tabs on where we were progressing in our meal and was able to swoop in just when we were finished or looked done with the portion. He was super friendly and gave recommendations. When I asked where the restrooms were, instead of just pointing the way, he personally escorted me there. The person I was eating with later told me that as soon as I got up to leave, a busboy came, took my napkin away, and the waiter came and replaced it with a brand new one. I’ve been to restaurants before where they fold your napkin back up, but this was the first time I got a brand new one! Considering we hadn’t ordered yet, maybe it was a big unnecessary, but I don’t care – I felt special! The other thing I’d read a lot about before going to this restaurant was the “invisible valet.” When you arrive at the restaurant, they take your keys and your coat, but never take your name or give you a ticket. You just walk right into the restaurant and leave your car there. When you leave, your car is supposed to just be waiting outside for you. Our experience was a little different – the valets were distracted talking, so our car wasn’t ready… but upon seeing us about 5 feet away from the glass doors, I saw one of them BOLT out to the parking lot and our car was there within seconds. What great service! Too bad the valet wasn’t free and it’s mandatory… but it’s fun.
Second, the atmosphere. The restaurant is located a bit north of the city center, but not too far off – it was about a 10 minute drive. We were seated with a view out the window, overlooking lake union and Gas Works Park. It was a spectacular view. If you go to the Canlis website, they had a lot of information regarding the art and architecture of the restaurant itself. To me, it felt like a luxe log cabin, but it does seem like those who really appreciate the northwest naturesque feel, they’d really love it. I do have to say that I was really impressed by the restrooms – when I first walked in, there’s a small lounge area with a gigantic mirror on one side, and on the other, there’s a small zen atrium behind a wall of glass. There’s a divider between the lounge and the sink area, but the atrium extends to behind the sink, so when you’re washing your hands, you’re looking out onto an indoor zen garden. It’s really pretty!
Lastly, the food. For as elegant and classy as the restaurant is, I thought the food was good, but not something I would remember for the rest of my life. I got a Canlis salad to start, which has been reviewed as one of the best salads ever made – but I didn’t get why. Just tasted like a salad to me. The amuse bouche was salmon mousse on a cracker, which was good… but tasted kinda like something you could get from trader joe’s. I had the crabcakes and truffled fries for my entree. The crabcakes were huge and meaty, but I didn’t like the Valencia orange sauce. The truffled fries were nice and thinly sliced, but I felt like there was too much truffle oil and salt, so it was overwhelming. I did, however, think the dessert was great. I had the chocolate lava cake, which has a liquid truffle filling. That was rich and decadent, but perfectly so. Oh yes, and also had the best wine I’ve ever had here. They have a master sommelier here, but I didn’t even use him – the waiter gave an excellent recommendation without him. I went with a glass of the pinot grigio, and yes, it was the best wine I’ve ever had. (according to their website, I believe it was the 2005 Abbazia Di Novacella, Alto Adige, IT)The dinner was pricey, but definitely not as price as other places like it. I would expect to pay at least $100 per person, but I think we managed to get away with about $70 per person here.
Overall, even though the food wasn’t as excellent was I was hoping (and don’t get me wrong, it was still very very good), the service makes you feel like a queen. I’d go back. It’s a great place to go to celebrate a special occasion!