Canlis dinner tastes even better when it’s earned

Hello! Sorry for the long delay about my fabulous dinner at Canlis. Even with holidays and traveling, I really have no excuse for not writing about it except for laziness. The new year’s goal is to work on updating this blog more!

Dan and I had our dinner at Canlis on a Friday evening in November. We both got dressed up and took the two minute cab ride from my apartment to the restaurant (not lying, it took less than a minute to get back – I live right across the Aurora Bridge). We decided we would go all out at our nice and dinner and didn’t want to worry about driving after dinner.

When we arrived, the valet opened the doors for us and we walked into the restaurant. It was a bit confusing at first as I wasn’t sure which way to go, and we stood by the fire place for a few minutes not sure if we should just walk into the bar, or check into the table. Finally, we were helped by a gentleman who turned out to be Mark Canlis. He took my coat and chatted with us about finding the menu. He was genuinely happy to see us there, and we went to the bar to grab a drink before dinner. I had a cocktail and Dan ordered a peach beer. It was a bit sweet for his liking, but I thought it was great! We sat next to the piano player, who talked to us a bit about finding the menu, then played a little Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars for me. If you’ve never heard “Poker Face” played on a piano in one of the greatest restaurant establishments in the PNW, you’re missing out.

We were seated at our table over looking Lake Washington, Gasworks and UW and asked what we wanted to drink. We looked through the wine menu, and realized we had no clue what we wanted. The waiter sent over a sommelier and he helped us pick a nice bottle of cabernet sauvignon. I’m going to be a terrible wine drinker though and admit I forgot where it was from… For our first course I ordered the Peter Canlis prawns and Dan ordered the crab cake. Dan’s crab cake was delish, but I must admit, I do think the Oceanaire has better crab cakes with their huge chunks of Dungeness crab. My prawns on the other hand, were beyond amazing. They were the perfect size – not too small and not too big and sitting in a light garlic sauce. I believe six came on the plate, but I wanted more!

I ordered the Canlis salad for the second course and Dan ordered the smoked salmon. The Canlis salad was a light, delicious but filling plate. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the mint, but somehow it blended perfectly with the bacon and lemon. They have the recipe on their website, and I’m tempted to try to make it someday. Dan’s smoked salmon was like nothing we had before. To this day he tells everyone it was the most amazing thing he’s ever had. The salmon was smokey, but was moist and flaky. We found out later they soaked the salmon in brine before smoking it. I think Dan would’ve eaten multiple plates that night if he could. He did his best to share with me, but I could tell he wanted it all for himself.

By the time our main course arrived, I was getting full, but I did a little stretch and made room for my medium-done filet mignon! Not only did I order the filet, I also ordered a side of the twice baked potato. The filet was probably the best cut of meat (besides my mom’s Korean bbq) I have ever had (and I’ve worked at Ruth’s Chris and Oceanaire). Even my anti-meat-eating boyfriend had a large portion of my filet. I wanted to take it home, but Dan scolded me, “No! You have to finish this!” So I powered through as much as I could, but left 1/3 of it for him to eat. I tried eating the baked potato, which was every baked potato lovers dream (think creamy potato, melted cheese, utter Heaven) but could only get through part of it. Dan ordered the lobster which was quite tasty as well, and a side of mushrooms. I think the mushrooms were a bit much for me as I started to get a bit queasy after eating some; though that may be due to the fact that they were really chewy, and I have a texture issue when I eat. Dan was a champ and ate his entree and finished up mine.

Since Dan ate 1.3 entrees, he didn’t really want dessert, but me being a girl, demanded dessert and made him get some as well. I ordered the Hawaiian coffee (definitely worth it to try if you can!) and the Malasadas. Dan got some scotch and salted caramel ice cream – yes, it is a weird combination, and yes, the ice cream may have been my push. The Malasadas – aka Hawaiian donuts – seemed like the lightest dessert on the menu, and has now become the love of my life. Three little Hawaiian donut holes comes out on a plate filled with passion fruit-vanilla bean cream, coconut and macadamia nuts. I had little to no room left in my stomach, but I did the best as I could and got down one and a half donuts and a little bit of Dan’s ice cream.

Dinner came out to way more than most people would have expected (beverages and dessert were not included in the 1950s’ prices), but it was worth every penny. After dinner we were given a private tour of the restaurant and went up to the private room where proposals happened – the small room outlooks Gasworks and we were told a story of one guy who proposed to his girlfriend, by having his friend stand out in the freezing cold holding signs up in the park for the girlfriend to read. We walked down to the wine cellars and around the kitchen. The waiter showed us glasses that had names on them such as “Bill” and “Melinda” for frequent customers to always have the same glass.

We spent five hours at Canlis in all, and it was a night I’ll never forget. The staff was so kind and polite, a lot of them coming up to us during dinner to fill our water or take plates away, asking how we found our menu. The epic stories of Canlis such as “valets always having cars ready when you leave” and “no coat tags for anything checked” all came true. I don’t know how Canlis pulls the magic of dinner off, but maybe I don’t want to. Thank you, Canlis brothers, for giving those who may not always get the chance to dine at your establishment, a way to experience dinner there, while having some fun on the way!

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