My entree was a large piece of Alaskan halibut that was fresh and perfectly prepared. My compansion had hazelnut chicken. I had a little bit of it and the sauce was just delicious. We shared an "apple bowl" dessert with some ice cream on top, and that was excellent too. (Sorry for the blunt superlatives; a newspaper restaurant critic's job isn't in my future.)
The service just couldn't possibly have been better. We were greeted at the door by Chris Canlis, who thanked us for coming. I told him we hadn't been there for seven years and he came over to the table and we chatted a bit about how we'd moved from Boston, and the weather in the respective places. A very gracious, polished and sophisticated host. It's not often that you're greeted by the guy whose name is on the place, let alone be greeted with such grace and warmth. It really meant a lot.
I really appreciated the selection of wines by the glass. We usually get a bottle of wine at dinner, but lately my dining partner hasn't been drinking much wine so I was getting glasses. They had an outstanding Sancerre, and a chardonnay from Arcadian winery in California, which I happen to buy cases from directly. It was nice to see that Canlis doesn't do what too many restaurants do, which is to offer very pedestrian wines by the glass to effectively force people to buy by the bottle.
The ambiance was magnificent. The restaurant is an architectural gem, an example of late '60s/early '70s architecture, with a magnificent view. We were seated right near the piano player, and while it was on the loud side it wasn't deafening by any stretch. Generally speaking, the combination of service and ambiance led me to believe that this is an establishment where regular customers are well known but where newcomers (which we really are) are graciously welcomed.
I've read some comments on-line to the effect that the formality of Canlis, and the relative affluence of the regular customers, is offputting. I didn't feel that way in the least. There was nothing stuffy about it, certainly not in comparison to the stiff service you'll find in Boston where we came from. I didn't feel intimidated in the least; quite the contrary, it felt as if we had been going there for years. After tonight's experience I really wonder if the critics of this place have actually ever been there, because the Canlis I experienced has utterly nothing in common with the Canlis described by some of its detractors.
The check for two, including Seattle's 9.2% sales tax and a 20% tip, came to $198. It was well worth it. We'll absolutely be back. Canlis is an instant favorite.
Edited by Wilson, 10 March 2004 - 11:33 PM.