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“Phenomenal evening”
Review of Canlis Restaurant

Canlis Restaurant
Ranked #11 of 4,267 Restaurants in Seattle
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $85 - $125
Cuisines: American, Seafood, Steakhouse, Contemporary
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Large groups, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Business meetings, Scenic view
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Neighborhood: Magnolia / Queen Anne
Cross street: Haliday
Reviewed April 4, 2014

I took my girlfriend here for her birthday after researching the fanciest restaurant in Seattle (I'm from out of town). Canlis definitely did not disappoint. The setting was very nice, the service was excellent and the food was exquisite. The servers were chattier than I'm used to (seems to be an American thing) but they were very professional and accommodating of my girlfriend's multiple food allergies. Her dessert plate even had a small, thin candle with "happy birthday" written in chocolate sauce. Very classy. It's a very pricy place - I think was at least 3x more than I've ever spent on a single meal - but truly worth every penny. Not somewhere I'd go for other than a very special occasion, but when you want to impress it definitely does the job. Thanks for helping me plan a great evening.

Thank Mtltraveller_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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600 - 604 of 1,040 reviews

Reviewed March 28, 2014

We visited on our honeymoon and we had the tasting menu (I opted for the vegetarian) and my husband the standard with wine pairings. The architecture of the building itself is amazing, the views are spectacular, service was impeccable and the food was excellent. Very difficult to criticise. It was a very expensive meal but we knew it would be and the experience absolutely justified the cost.

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1  Thank Justine E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 26, 2014

A few times per year we travel somewhere to experience a tasting menu (not available locally), which is a chance for the chef to send out whatever he or she wants, in small portions, to showcase skill and style. We view a tasting menu as very much a "show me your best stuff" experience and place no restrictions on the chef. Having heard tons of recommendations for Canlis over the past several years, we made reservations months in advance and scheduled a trip to Seattle with dinner at Canlis as the centerpiece. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the most expensive and least exciting meal we had the entire trip.

There is no question the setting is nice and the view is gorgeous. The atmosphere of the restaurant is lovely, the service is impeccable. From the valet service to the multiple table servers, there is no question that service has been polished here.

We had two different versions of the tasting menu to try the spectrum of the chef's offerings - a standard tasting menu, giving the chef a chance to do whatever, and a vegan tasting menu (for which you do need to give 48 hrs notice). I was impressed that a tasting menu was available in vegan form and very excited to see what the chef would offer - frankly most chef's can turn out something wonderful with meat proteins, many chefs can turn out wonderful vegetarian dishes, but really great vegan dishes can be claimed by few chefs indeed - and not that many even try. So I was really looking forward to seeing what creative vegan cuisine would be on offer by a great chef - as well as what the traditional tasting menu would offer.

Although the presentation of every dish was perfect, and on some courses the vegan course was better than the standard course, overall it was clear that there was no attempt to create a vegan menu showcasing vegan cooking skill. Rather, this was a "we will accommodate the vegans" effort which simply altered the vegetarian tasting menu to delete dairy and other non-vegan ingredients (gelatin, etc). Big disappointment. On certain dishes it would have been easy to develop a substitution, cashew cream for a dairy cream item, etc., but they did not do so - just left components of a dish off the plate. Too bad. I am glad they offer a vegetarian tasting menu, and are willing to at least accommodate vegans, but if you want a showcase of vegan offerings this is clearly not the place to get it. The vegetarian adapted menu did have some nice offerings, the best of which was butternut squash with sage, one of the best courses of the night off either menu.

As for the traditional tasting menu, there were some interesting courses, but nothing that was "wow!" When a tasting menu doesn't offer a single course or bite of food that makes one say "wow!" it is, in my mind, a disappointment. There was nothing that was bad - some things were very good - but nothing really memorable and special. Fluke, lobster, squab - all interesting but no preparation that amazing. That being said, the execution was basically perfect on all dishes, along with presentation - it was the inspiration or vision that seemed lackluster. For example, some courses offered components that were just too hard to combine into a bite, or that didn't really mesh together perfectly to enhance one another.

Another odd thing was the portion sizes - much larger than a typical tasting menu. In order to pace oneself for seven courses the courses need to be small. Particularly with the modified vegetarian menu, the portion sizes were too big to finish on some of the courses. If you want to showcase picked beets, great, but it doesn't take 7 beets to do it.

The wine pairings (paired to the vegetarian menu with one change) were good and worked well with one very notable exception. The dessert course for the vegan menu was some grapefruit sorbet and accompaniments and the pairing brought out the bitter notes in the dish to an overwhelming degree. I don't know how that particular pairing was derived but it definately did not work. Although the waiter did ask how everything was throughout the meal, when provided with any actual feedback (such as the pairing didn't work) he didn't seem to know how to respond. Mind you, we didn't offer any complaints or any unsolicited comments and nothing that wasn't polite and intended as constructive - but he seemed frankly unprepared for any response to the question 'How was it?" aside from "Great." So probably the asking was just rote and nothing made it back to the kitchen - and likely wouldn't matter if it did. They seem to have a set menu, a set plan, a very well established reputation, plenty of bookings, and the opinion of particular customers probably isn't really relevant to their business model at this point. It is what it is. However, I've only ever had one other tasting menu where something was that off (elsewhere), and when it was mentioned, the chef - unsolicited - addressed it by providing an alternative (which was in fact superior); it was clear the chef not only asked for, but received and responded to feedback on that occasion.

Finally, while we are certainly willing to pay well for tasting menus and great fine dining experiences, $400 for 2 tasting menus and one wine pairing and sparkling water. There really should be SOME amazing bite we can remember later for that price. We left with no "Remember that great ____ we had at Canlis?" whatsoever. It was a nice dinner, with great service and presentation, but not amazing. We would not go back, nor be able to recommend the tasting menu to others. It did not seem to reflect any particular personality, passion or vision of the chef, it did not showcase or highlight particular flavors or skills - it seemed to just be about taking some proteins and preparing them with great execution and not enough thought to flavor development or the logistics of assembly/consumption. It was interesting that on some courses we agreed that the vegan course beat out the traditional meat course in terms of flavor and appeal, so clearly some good thought was put into the vegetarian menu, just not attempts to veganize it.

In the end - why is this place so famous or highly recommended? We have no idea. Thus it was a disappointment. What you can get here that you can't get elsewhere seems to boil down to the view, and the ability to say you ate at Canlis.

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4  Thank DAEsmae
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 4, 2014 via mobile

This is my favorite place to go for that very special occasion. My husband booked it for my birthday. We used to come at least once a year but hadn't been recently so it was a nice treat. Excellent food, service, view and atmosphere. I had fois gras for the first time and rally enjoyed it with the grilled pineapple. The only thing is now they just give out the fixed price menu which is pretty spendy although I just heard that if you request a la carte they could do it.

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1  Thank clu12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 4, 2014

While some claim this long time Seattle restaurant has been surpassed by others over the years, I have never had more consistently excellent food and service than Canlis. True, the facility has been there for quite some time, but the view is beautiful and the service impeccable and the food is second to none. Far and away, my favorite place to go out, not just in Seattle, but anywhere!

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1  Thank ewwhite2489
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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