Usually we get a table by the window for the view, but this time we were further back in the main room, with our backs to the copper kitchen, and as such had a view of the place itself - it was early and empty when we arrived, but the place filled up and still seemed very cozy and intimate when it was full. The interior is stonework and wood, with a design that would delight Frank Lloyd Wright. There was a second floor for Private Dining Rooms overlooking the main restaurant, and Kate snuck off to have a look, only to end up getting a guided tour of the upstairs, including the "Caché", a private table for two with the best view in the house - the Caché goes for a C-note normally, but they auction it off every Valentine's day for charity.
Canlis' regular fare is always amazing, but neither Kate nor I opened the menu that evening. Instead, we went for their "Tasting Menu", which changes from month to month, and is a culinary delight. Here's the rundown for January, lifted (I mean reproduced) from their site:
Dungeness crab, avocado, spicy tuna and chive oil
2004 Crios Torrontés, Cafayate, Argentina
Duck Three Ways
Mushroom-duck demi-glace, dried cherry chutney and sautéed escarole
2002 Arboleda Carmenère, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Ruby Red Grapefruit Ice Intermezzo
Washington grown Kobe style beef,
Beluga lentil and bacon stuffed Savoy cabbage with béarnaise sauce
2002 Viña Progreso Reserve Tannat, Uruguay
Sourdough Bread Pudding
Port poached pear, brandied walnut sauce
and a Meyer lemon crème fraiche ice cream
2002 Santa Julia “Tardio” Late Harvest Torrontés, Mendoza, Argentina
Now by "Tasting Menu", think Iron Chef tasting panel - small incredible portions that define "food as art", which you taste with your eyes before you reward your palate. Even remembering this food makes me smile, days later. The Tuna Tatare was a small skyscraper with floors of tuna, crab, avocado, and more tuna. The Duck Three Ways was slices of roasted duck, topped by a duck sausage, with duck prosciutto to one side (I didn't know that process worked for ducks, but it does and it was fantastic). The tenderloin was soft and supple and rich. And bread pudding - well, this is why I love their tasting menu - nothing would normally make me order a bread pudding, but this was incredible (and here was where the tasting menu tripped up my wife's allergies, so instead she got three flavors of sherbert, which was melt-in-your-mouth wonderful as well).
Now the thing that impressed me yet again with the meal was the matching wines. All of them were South American, and matched perfectly to the meal. I hate reds, yet the two reds meshed incredibly well with the courses, and the final Tardio was an incredibly sweet kick againt them. I was completely floored by the ability to match wine with food, and our sommelier, Shayn (self-described "Wine Guy") was very knowledgeable, and, you could tell, excited by the wines he was serving. This excitement and knowledge went for our waiter, Parris, who was omnipresent, omniscient friendly, cool, and, yeah, excited about the food, too.
Now, this meal was horribly, horribly, horribly expensive. How much so? Well, tomorrow a short story I wrote goes live on the Magic: The Gathering site, and the payment should just about cover the cost. Now I mentioned in an earlier post that a chunk of a previous short story's payment went to disaster relief, so this feels about right: Treat yourself to a very good meal, and donate an equal share to help others (or, if you prefer, justify going out for a good meal through your earlier philanthropy).
And count your blessings. More later,