Canlis serves up a sweet Seattle evening

Panettone bread pudding with muscat-glazed apricots and olive oil ice creamIt was a special someone’s birthday recently, so to mark the occasion, what better place than Canlis?

We didn’t do the whole meal there, though we’ve enjoyed that experience immensely in previous visits. As sushi was the birthday request, we first went to our favorite place (Kisaku—more on that soon), stuffing ourselves silly but leaving room (barely) for dessert. So I slipped on my sportcoat, and we sauntered into Canlis and sat in the lounge, sipping coffee and listening to the likes of Radiohead and U2 on the piano while waiting for space to fill in our stomachs for some sweets.

Ah, but how to choose from the dessert offerings? We knew we wanted doughnuts ($11), the perfect accompaniment to coffee, these filled with banana and caramel, and served with molten milk chocolate and peanut butter ice cream. But for the second, would it be the crème brûlée ($10) or the hazelnut brown butter cake ($11)?

Mark Canlis, current managing owner along with brother Brian, caught wind of our dilemma and decided to send out all three. The doughnuts were delightful, enthusiastically eaten while still warm. Next came the cracking of the crème brûlée, a tropical affair flavored with mango and passion fruit, and topped with lychee sorbet. Equally good was the cake with its poached pears and warm pear consommé. And, yes, a little more ice cream—this time, well, made with thyme.

We were slumping in our chairs when Mark strolled by and, noticing that we had polished our plates, flashed a devilish smile. “If you’ve got space, I’ve got one more for you to sample…I think you’ll like it,” he said, adding that it was just about to debut on the dessert menu. Pannetone bread pudding, soft and soothing, has been popular at Canlis. Towering over this version ($10) was an orange-rosemary tuile (itself flavorful and fun), providing a wall for what was on the other side of the dish: olive oil ice cream spooned over muscat-glazed apricots. Oh boy! Rich, rich, rich. And luscious. Full? Forget about it. We finished it ferociously and pronounced it our favorite.

So many have stories to tell about the spectacular service at Canlis. As our evening came to an end, it was time for the finishing touch: the mysteriously amazing, ticketless valet service, which somehow has the car running and ready at the front door upon exiting. I’m a bit embarrassed to bring my car to Canlis, as it’s never quite clean, and quite a bit old. But that always provides a laugh when the valet guys jump out of the car and run to the passenger side door without realizing they can’t open it. (No power locks on my prehistoric car!) We have a friendly laugh…and all is forgiven in the context of a fabulous—and in this case a very sweet—evening.

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