Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Canlis Experience

It was supposed to be a simple night of bar food at the nicest restaurant in town: Canlis. It's made of stone and glass, and is perched high on a hill above Lake Union. I met up with my foodie friend and writer, Julien, and former coworker MaryBeth, in the bar. Sunlight sparkled through the glass, and I could see the snow-capped peaks of the Cascades. A young piano man's fingers danced across the keys as the foreign bartender shook fancy cocktails. We were going to order the lamb sliders and truffle fries off the bar menu, until the chef himself came out.

"Hey Julien, how are you?" He's only 31-years old, and shy. There is no ounce of ego in this man, who I later found out to be a genius. "What would you like today? How about my tasting menu? Small or large bites?"
We chose small, while the bartender brought out our drinks. For me, he recommended a fancy margarita crusted with black sea salt. He brought over a concoction that foamed and bubbled, and turned colors as a I stirred it.

He regaled us with a story about a woman in Greek mythology, who ate pomegranate seeds to keep herself young, or something like that. Every drink had a story. Not only was this man a libation artist, he was a storyteller with a beautiful accent. Long after I'd slurped this margarita down, I told him to make me something with bourbon, and he came up with a smoking ice castle.

The food came next. The incredible, heart-breakingly beautiful food. Every bite was like heaven, the service impeccable. We started with a droplet of rubarb soup, then watermelon ceviche.

Waiters bustled around us like worker bees to their hive. Smiles, soft voices, quick hands that whisked away napkins and wiped the table down. At one point four waiters surrounded us as they regaled us with the ingredients to these masterpieces. First, yellowfish tuna with a gelatin sauce.
Then, salmon with fingerling potatoes.
Black cod wrapped in squash blossom.

Lamb loin with fried squash, and pepperoni.
The flavors blended so beautifully I thought I was in heaven. Even the owner himself, Mark Canlis, came over to introduce himself to my famous food writing friend. He has a lot to be proud of. Just when I thought the tasting menu was over, the waiters put another delectible treat in front of us. Sumac meringue crumbles and fresh strawberries topped with strawberry sorbet. This was the precurser to dessert.
THE PRECURSOR! It was a slice of heaven, tangy, yet sweet, smooth and soft, crumbly and moist. The best summer dessert. Then came the big cajones. It looked like a little purple bunny rabbit with wings, frolicking in the Garden of Eden.

In reality, it was sweet corn panacotta with blueberry sorbet, corn kernels and blueberry slices. (Thanks Julien, for writing all this down.)

It was an amazing experience, albeit spendy. I think MaryBeth put it the best.

"It's a party in my mouth, for my tastebuds."

Yes, it was. Thank God for fine dining.

(Again, Julien is an incredible food photographer!)


Anonymous said...

Please forgive my moans of ecstasy as I read this. - David

Sue said...

Wow! That looks fantastic! Wish I could've gone with you guys...but I bet they don't have highchairs at Canlis!

McRiguez said...

So is said chef single? I'd get so fat!

I've never seen food that looked so beautiful and colorful. Wow.

And the greek story goes: Persephone was the young girl who ate the pomegranite. She was tricked into eating the Pomegranite, so out of punishment she had to hang out in the underworld for 6 months and 6 months on top with the humans and that's why we have seasons.

Kristin said...

Sue you have to come next time! We should go there with Dan and Helen!

Lisa said...

Wow. i've never been to Canlis, but drive by it every night on my way home. I have never seen such beautiful food!!!

Paula said...

My gosh! It is the end of my work day and I could only dream of ending up at a place like that. Exquisite. I've not seen anything like it.

Colleen said...

Love Canlis, but wasn't terribly impressed by the restaurant's vegetarian menu. The first time I ate there though I was eating meat and what I had was great. You can't beat the service.