Sunday, January 3, 2010

Canlis: Classic Elegance & Amazing Food

Restaurant Name: Canlis
Restaurant Location: 2576 Aurora Avenue North, Seattle

After working with the excellent Daniel Humm at New York's Eleven Madison Park (see review of EMP in this blog), Chef Jason Franey has now moved to Seattle's Canlis Restaurant, where he serves as Executive Chef. He brings with him a modern and fresh touch, which he appears to have applied deftly and subtly to Canlis' classic menu. After 60 years, Canlis still remains relevant...and well worth a visit.

So, after a long day of holiday shopping, my parents and I braved the traffic along highway 99 and made our way to Canlis. We were ushered out of the chaos and into a serene island of low lighting, tasteful decor, and breath-taking views. The service was impeccable without being snobbish or over-bearing and the food was...somehow thrilling and comforting at the same time.

With a long week of eating ahead of us (ah, the holidays...), we opted to order several small plates rather than indulge in a larger tasting menu.

I began with a Canlis classic: the Canlis Salad. I'd actually seen this salad featured in an issue of Food & Wine (or maybe Bon Appetit?) recently and had wondered what the fuss was all about. After all, it's just a salad. But, having tried it, I can report that this salad is truly fuss-worthy.

A riff on a Cesar salad, the Canlis salad features crisp, perfect Romaine, amongst which hide nuggets of bacon and shreds of fresh herbs. The dressing was Cesar-like, but more citrus-y. I literally could not stop eating it.

I followed the salad up with another classic, the Peter Canlis Prawns. What could be more simple than the freshest, plumpest, sweetest prawns cooked until *just* crisp-tender, curled beneath a delicate mound of micro-greens and surrounded by a slick of golden, creamy sauce? Nothing - that's what. My taste-buds were literally purring after the first bite.

Cindy started her meal with the Dungeness Crab Cake. As is proper, this was nearly all crab meat, sweet and glistening and bound together with just the slightest hint of breadcrumbs. It was garnished (quite cleverly, I thought) with thin matchsticks of Granny Smith Apple and a bright cilantro-curry sauce. She followed this up with the only actual entree we ordered: the homemade Wild Mushroom Ravioli. Filled with savory mushrooms and sweetly creamy mascapone, doused with vin jaune, and topped with a beautiful foam, this dish was perhaps the most reminiscent of Eleven Madison Park's offerings (and, as such, awesome).

Steve began his dinner with a chilled salad of Prawn, Mango, and Avocado, served with a delicate sprinkling of micro-herbs, a pomegranate glaze and chive oil. He followed this with the Seared Scallops served with butternut squash, hearts of palm, and chorizo (these were sweet and perfect).

For dessert, we shared the classic Grand Marnier Souffle with vanilla bean creme anglaise and the Warm Apple-Filled Donuts with Cinnamon Ice Cream. While the donuts were truly delicious and would have shone in practically any other context, the souffle upstaged everything. It was literally perfect. The entire thing rose to the exact same, elegant height on all sides. It was gleaming and golden on top and ethereal and white on the inside...and the creme anglaise...oh, give me a few gallons and a big spoon and I'd die happy.

It may have been the busy rush and tumble of the day, or the pleasure of dinner with my parents after a long absence, but dining at Canlis that night was like a vacation in of itself: elegant, relaxing, and full of beautiful things.

Bon Appetit!

Canlis on Urbanspoon

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