Play-by-Play of First Dinner at Canlis!

One year ago today, Bryan and I officially became the Jensiuchi family! After the horrible summer weather of 2011, the 1st week of August turned around to provide us with the most magnificent backdrop to our wedding at the Woodmark Hotel on the waterfront in Kirkland. This year the summer weather has been on much better behavior and we’re starting to think that we might just get lucky every year with awesome anniversary weather.

Now, as you may have heard, Bryan was going to try and take me to an anniversary dinner at the Herbfarm, but he got scared. So we tried desperately to plan a last minute local weekend getaway, but that was impossible on Seafair weekend in the Seattle area. Our last resort was to pick one of the restaurants (except Herbfarm) that was on my bucket list. I called Canlis prepared with a plea of desperation, but somehow I secured their second to last reservation for the night!

If you are not familiar with Canlis, they are one of those iconic Seattle spots; multiple awards, been around for over 60 years, seasonal menu, and of course the infamous rumor of getting “the card” for not spending enough (obviously, not true). All you really need to know is that they have a reputation for excellence in not just their food, but also their service.


The one thing about Canlis that had Bryan in a tiff was that they told us that it is highly recommended and preferred that men wear a sportcoat (AT MINIMUM). I don’t think we’re slobs that dine at Claim Jumper (much hate towards Claim Jumper) for our special events, but this was definitely a first for us. And even so, we assumed it was just one of those things they said. Boy were we wrong… 80% of the men in there were in full suits, 9% in khakis (but they were in the bar), and then one dude in a shiny tux. And to top it off we got seated in the “jacket required” section so Bryan was required to suit-up before taking his seat. But man, oh man, was it worth it! Plus, I love getting dressed up!


Halekulani cocktail while waiting to be seated.

Due to overcompensating for Seafair traffic, we arrived super early, along with many other people (must be locals who know the traffic horrors or Seafair), but they sat us in the bar and provided us with some cocktails to help kill the time. It’s such a cool vibe in there with the old styling of things like the stone fireplace, wood walls, small bar area, and mirrored walls. You almost feel transported to another era sitting in a bar dressed up, with a handful of other folks dressed up, sipping on fancy cocktails. I was waiting for Don Draper to show up and offer me a smoke.


This was seriously our table view!!


Sea salt and olive roll.


Mini salt container with mini spoon!

As we were guided from the bar to our table, my expectations were that we had a corner table with no view and crappy lighting, being that we did snag one of their last open reservations… But, I was over-the-moon-ecstatic when they placed us by a window with a table that was large enough for six people. Finally, a restaurant that wants me to order a lot of food! They offered us a variety of waters; mineral, filtered, sparkling, sweat of a unicorn… Then they brought by a little bread basket filled with freshouttatheoven rolls. That’s one way to my heart!

After a few questions with our server, I totally knew what I was getting. The tasting menu (slightly modified for a pescetarian) with wine pairing for each plate! Oooooh man… I’m drooling thinking about it all again.


Bryan’s palette cleanser dish with dehydrated strawberries.


Strawberry and fennel palette cleanser.

Cleanse your palette! Canlis was all about the palette cleansing, which makes me wish we would have stuck with our gut when planning our wedding menu last year. Honestly, we didn’t think our guests would understand getting a lemon mint sorbet that followed their salad. CURSE US for not just thinking “people like ice cream and would have enjoyed it.”


Variety of oysters from Taylor Shellfish, including the Shigoku!


Red wine mignonette.

Bryan, in typical fashion, started his evening with oysters.  Would you really expect anything less from him?  Especially when they are coming from Taylor Shellfish Farms?  I think he needs a #1 fanboy shirt.


2011 Grammery-Cellars “Olsen Vineyard” Rose, Columbia Valley, WA


Asparagus: Egg yolk, goat cheese, and smoked steelhead roe


I’m in heaven. Did I die? Maybe I magically ended up in Kitchen Stadium? All I know is that there has never been better food in my mouth. And I’m not going to lie… The plating of the food makes it taste better. Maybe it’s one of those senses things where you see, smell, then taste the food.


Hamachi: Sashimi, Granny Smith apple, serrano pepper, and yuzu



Since I ordered a nearly 7-course meal, our server helped Bryan put together some small plates so I wouldn’t be dining alone the majority of the time. It was awesome that we each got something different for multiple plates and were able to do a fork switch each time.  How often have you had hamachi with apple?!  I mean, COME ON!!!


2009 Arnaldo Caprai “Grecante,” Colli Martani Grechetto, Umbria, ITA


Someone was obviously drinking at this point.


Kampachi: Geoduck, radish, and green tea dashi


By the time they came around for my second pour, I immediately began thinking “thank god I didn’t freaking drive!” Their tasting pours were gigantic. Hopefully they don’t read this and reduce the pour size, cause I will definitely be doing pairings next time.


Smoked Sockeye Salmon: Yogurt, sorrel, and lobster coral

Bryan’s next plate was crazy with the amount of flavor packed into those little dots of goodness.


2009 Dow’s Vale do Bomfim, Douro Valley, PGL


Black Cod: Lightly smoked, with peaches, porcini, and pickled mustard seeds

I also got something packed with flavor.  Yes, I ate something pickled and loved it. I cannot stand pickles. And I’m generally not a HUGE mustard fan. However, mustard has grown more on me over the years and while I still don’t think pickles are growing on me, at least I can appreciate their flavors when incorporated into dishes.  It probably helps that the black cod was to die for.


Milk & honey roll!

The bread lady must have sensed my Asian glow from the wine and came back around with more warm rolls. I picked the milk and honey roll this time. It reminded me of Hawaiian sweet rolls, just way mo’ betta.


2008 Betz, “La Serenne,” Columbia Valley, WA


Halibut: Pan fried, quinoa…

My next course was the one they had to replace on the tasting menu, cause the original was LAMB. As in Mary, Mary… I am pretty sure that my halibut dish was just as good though, if not better! Unfortunately, since it wasn’t on the menu and they gave a presentation on each plate they brought, I can’t remember all the fine details about the dish. That makes me a little sad, but at least I remember that it tasted AMAZING!


Artichoke Tortellini: Tomato confit, saba, and preserved lemon

Bryan surprised me with the dish he ordered for his main. I totally expected a seafood filet of some sort, but he went with a pasta dish! Granted, it had saba in it… His conversation with our server went something like:

Bryan: So this tortelli has saba in it?
Server: Yes.
Bryan: Like as in mackerel, saba?
Server: Yes, mackerel.
Bryan: *lit up face* I’ll take it!


Pineapple: White chocolate, passion fruit, and coconut


Espresso break with a sparkling mineral water.

In case you weren’t able to guess, before dessert we needed our palettes cleansed again, so we got this amazing pineapple dish that could have easily been served as my dessert. I wish snow fell from the sky in the form of their dehydrated white chocolate powder.  We also snuck in a quick espresso, which they served with a sparkling mineral water; I assume to wash out the espresso from my palette again. Hehehehe.


Brouwerij Bockor “Bellegems” Flamers Oud Bruin, Kortrijk, BEL



Vanilla Custard: Strawberry, rhubarb, basil, and buckwheat


This is the typical photo Bryan takes of me… Flattering.

BEER! BEER! BEER! I got a lambic beer with my dessert as my final pairing. AND my dessert had a basil ice cream. Oh. My. God. At this point, I was floating. And it wasn’t from the booze.  Ok, maybe some of it was from the booze.


Mille-Feuille: Milk chocolate, banana, caramel, and peanut butter


Bryan even ate his candle holder!

And I lucked out because Bryan ordered the dessert from the menu that I had been eyeballing, so I was able to try his as well. Peanut butter and banana-y goodness.


Carved fish bathroom door handles!


After dessert, desserts to bring home.


Cheers to another year!

When we left our bellies were perfectly content and our tastebuds were totally blown. The one thing that I wish I had gotten a photo of was their valet guys. They have some sort of voodoo magic cause we never even got a ticket, yet our car was magically the one waiting for us as we exited the building. Oh, AND Bryan saw them drive his beloved car, on a hill, without even rolling back (someday I’ll share his horrifying valet experience). He’s already counting the days till our next visit and even mentioned buying a suit. YAY!!! I can definitely say that Canlis is the best fine dining experience I have ever had and I would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a really nice meal out with someone you love.