Tag Archives: brian canlis

New Opening: THE NoMad BAR

21 Jun

We caught the news that The NoMad had opened up a new space called The Nomad Bar, attached through a semi-hidden passageway to their current space, The Library. It seems this came as a surprise to many, as I saw nothing leading up to it prior and it just kind of appeared one day with an entrance in the middle of the block on 28th Street (look for the Nomad logo on the door).  The space has been described as “sexy,” which it undeniably is, even down to a sexy promotional video. (And lots more sexy photos from Eater)

We went in at about 5:45pm on Friday evening and were told it would be about an hour wait for a table (as expected).  We put our names in and saddled right up to the sexy bar.

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We loved the food at The NoMad restaurant, and I actually find myself there nearly once a week now for breakfast meetings since it’s right near my office (and they have the super awesome granola from Eleven Madison Park).  We are huge fans of basically anything from Daniel Humm and Will Guidara after falling in love with EMP, which is our #1 restaurant in Manhattan. And when we heard that Brian Canlis, our gracious host from our fantastic honeymoon dinner at Canlis in Seattle, was lending a helping hand, it was all the more reason to visit at the first opportunity we had.

Mike and I had arrived early and were waiting on another couple friend to join us.  As we waited, we perused the menu and noticed that there were so many delicious sounding cocktails that it was going to be hard to choose.

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They have a section for “Reserve Cocktails” (read: very expensive with very good liquors), but they did mix a less premium version on request.  They also have an entire section of “Cocktail Explosions” for $90 to serve 6-8 people. It’s even labeled as “be careful” on the menu. We saw a few come out and they were like a super sexy scorpion bowl.  Could be great for a party.

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Our friends arrived shortly thereafter and as they ordered their drinks, the hostess came up to us and informed us that there was actually a change in another party so our table would be ready shortly.  Great!

We got our drinks and were led up the stairs to the second level, which is like a U shaped balcony with tables all around, looking down on the bar.

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They even light their stemware in a sexy cabinet with sexy lighting.

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What was a little less than sexy? The fact that they serve their “Forbidden Dance” in this slightly ridiculous, slightly awesome tiki glass.  I quite proudly carried this around a few hours later (more on that soon), but it was certainly a talking point (more on that later soon, too)

I have to say though, every single drink was amazing.  Perfectly balanced, perfectly constructed.  Really stand-out. This is truly a craft cocktail bar first and foremost.

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After ordering, our table was set with this cool box of silverware.

And then Brian Canlis stopped by and we said hello and told him that we were at his restaurant almost exactly 1 year ago to the day on our honeymoon.  He was so friendly and so warm.  He seemed genuinely happy to have us there and talk to us.  Brian Canlis knows hospitality and knows how to make guests feel special.

He also asked our opinion about the giant tiki glass sitting on our table.  Our dining companion informed him that she was a bit embarrassed by it and he told us that management is discussing whether it’s awesome or awful.  I think we all agreed that it’s a little of both.

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We started with the flat bread, which came with spring onions and fingerling potatoes.  We all enjoyed this but agreed that a little dipping sauce would have been good with it, perhaps a rosemary olive oil or olive tapenade.

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We also tried the Scotch Olives with lamb’s sausage and sheep’s milk cheese.

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It was like a scotch egg but with an olive.  I really enjoyed this.  Fun flavors and combination of textures and meat with salt and fry.

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Our final appetizer was the Swiss Cheese with beer mustard, pretzel chips, and pickles.  The cheese was absolutely phenomenal. I don’t know where they are sourcing this cheese, but it was some of the best swiss I’ve ever had.  I’m not a mustard fan, however, the two boys at the table sang its praises.

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Onto the entrees!

Two burgers on the table, and thank goodness.  This was a fantastic burger.

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The meat was cooked perfectly and the brioche bun was hearty without distracting from the main meat event. It was listed as dry aged with cheddar, red onions, and pickles.  So simple, yet so good.  One of my favorite burgers I’ve ever had.

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We got fries for the table and these were fan-freakin-tastic fries.  They were crispy and had lovely herbs on them (rosemary and parsley).  I gobbled up every little piece.

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We also tried the pork schnitzel on foccacia with tomato and pickles.  Of all the entrees, this was probably our least favorite. It was good but it didn’t sing with flavor like the other dishes.  It got a bit too muddled.

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I got the duck sausage with pickled ramps and cherries.  I was a bit concerned that this was the same mustard as the cheese, but it was more of an aioli, I think?

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The sausage itself was great.  Really nice combination of flavors and a nice snap to the outside.  Very enjoyable.

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With The NoMad restaurant serving one of my favorite desserts of all time (Milk and Honey), we were glad to have room for dessert.

We started with the Cookies & Cream, which was yummy vanilla ice cream rolled in cookie crumbs.  I loved that you could eat these with your hands and the texture was just right.  Delicious nibble.

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The banana pudding with rum & brioche was not how we expected it to look, but I really enjoyed this dessert.  I also enjoy how this picture wound up looking like that famous photo of Queen from Bohemian Rap City.

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And we had to try the candy bar, which was labeled on the menu as “literally, with dark chocolate and caramel.”

Literally indeed.

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Unwrapping it felt like Willy Wonka.

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And it was an awesome balance of the bitter dark chocolate with the sweet, dense caramel center.  A fantastic end to the meal.

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We had a few drinks throughout the evening, and all were great.  We decided we would end our night in The Library Bar for a night cap.

On our way down the stairs, we ran into Brian Canlis again.  We told him that we really enjoyed our meal and he asked us if we had ever been to the roof.  Why no… we had not.  He told us to hold tight and we told him we were going to head to The Library Bar.  That is when he informed us that the deal was that The Library Bar was now for hotel guests only. Apparently, the bar had become so popular that guests could never get in, so The NoMad Bar was opened up for the public now, in trade for The Library Bar being exclusive (in the late evenings anyway).  Interesting! So we grabbed our drinks at the sexy bar and waited for Brian.

We ordered a few things, including a repeat of a drink I had and enjoyed earlier in the evening, which was “The Shaman” (Pisco Acholado, Salers, Pineapple, Lemon, Cinnamon, and Angostura Bitters). Unfortunately (or maybe fortuitously) the bar tender heard incorrectly and thought I ordered “The Forbidden Dance.” And that is how I accidentally wound up carrying a huge Tiki Cup through The NoMad dining room, up the elevator, and to the roof with Brian Canlis.

But that’s okay… we named him Ted. (and he was delicious… and the bar tender took it off the bill… which was very, very nice of him).

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The roof of The NoMad was beautiful.  There is a special room up there in a circular turret-like construction where you can have a private meal, and I think all of our ears perked up at the thought of having a special meal up there.  They used to do a tasting menu up there, but with the weather and the financial opportunity of private parties, it is now a permanently tented space that is truly stunning with indoor and outdoor areas and a view of the Empire State Building and a world of beautiful buildings you would never know existed from the ground.  (If you have a lot of money, and a small guest list, this would be a dream wedding venue).

Overall, I really enjoyed our time at The NoMad Bar.  It is a well executed “more casual” version of The NoMad restaurant.  All the food was very good, if not great, and the cocktails were some of the best I’ve ever had.  We drank quite a few over the course of the night, so our tab was a bit hard to see, but for the caliber, it didn’t feel too nuts for NYC.  It is definitely as sexy as it has been billed, and if you are looking to impress a date, this is the place to go.  Looking forward to going back.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

 

Honeymoon Finale: Back in NYC – The Nomad

22 Aug

And then… it was over. Our incredible, awesome, and totally amazing honeymoon had to come to an end.  We knew that after spending 3 weeks in bliss (1 week for the wedding in Maine followed by the 2 week road trip in the Pacific Northwest), returning home would be tough. But we planned ahead and booked a reservation in NYC that was on our Grubbit list for “Must Try Soon” locations.

We took the red eye back from San Fran on Saturday night and arrived pretty tired and dazed on Sunday morning.  We just weren’t ready to quit, however, so we took a nap and then finally went to dinner at The NoMad. (created as a more casual place to eat by a few guys from our favorite restaurant, Eleven Madison Park).

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The dining room reminded me of being in Europe; specifically the Westin Paris – Vendôme with the glass ceiling.

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We noticed that there was Ithaca Beer on the menu.  At first we noted how nice it was to see Ithaca Beer on this menu too (since we also had some at Eleven Madison Park) and it took us a few minutes to put some facts together.  I went to Ithaca College and had a nice conversation with the owner of Canlis (Brian Canlis) about his being roommates with one of the owners (Will Guidara) of Eleven Madison Park at Cornell (which is in the same town of Ithaca as my alma matter, just across the gorge).  Now suddenly it dawned on us… Ithaca beer wasn’t an accident. It was on both menus because it meant the same thing to these guys as it did to me… great beer from our great little college town.

Sadly, I no longer see Ithaca Beer on the menu posted online, but I’m pretty sure this was a beer that was brewed specifically for The NoMad.  And we loved it.

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The bread that was served was quite delicious. Like a flat foccacia with rosemary. The rosemary looked more like Christmas Tree trimmings and was a bit much, but I liked that you could take off or keep on as much as you liked.

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We began our meal with the Sweetbreads appetizer which were described as croustillant with parsley. I had no idea what that meant, but was pleasantly surprised when they came out looking like crispy spring rolls.

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The flaky crisp on the outside was a great conduit for the delicious sweet breads inside.

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This is how I want to eat sweetbreads. While I’ve always loved the taste, I’m not a huge fan of the texture. The crispy outside got rid of all textural issues and just let me fully enjoy the great flavors.

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And who are we kidding? You think we could say NO to the famous chicken for two we had been hearing so much about?  It was described as a whole roasted chicken with foie gras, black truffle, and brioche.  I had read all about the preparation in this New York Times article and was very excited to try it.

As is one of my favorite traditions, they showed us the whole bird (feet and all) before carving it up. I find the tradition of shoving fresh flowers and herbs into the cavity quite funny, actually, in a admittedly and unabashedly juvenile way.

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And then it was taken away to be carved and plated. It probably took all of 5 minutes for that chicken to come back, but after the smell I got and the look at that beautiful skin, it was the longest 5 minutes of my life.

We each got a breast served over a truffled potato purree (though I remember it being more chunky) and asparagus.

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The key to the chicken is that it is stuffed under the skin with foie gras that has been mixed with truffles and brioche.  This created an incredibly decadent stuffing that also infused the meat with a rich, umami taste. I’m sure it is also a big reason why this was one of the most moist, flavorful chicken breasts I’ve ever had.

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This was one beautiful, thoughtful, sensory blissed out dish.

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I mean come on… this skin is a work of culinary ART. (Yes… I’m a little obsessed with this chicken dish)

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The leg meat (all of it) is served on its own a separate dish.  This was with morel mushrooms and a sauce that was like a refined hollandaise. As if this could get any better.

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And I did mention that they serve ALL of the leg…

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Wow. Just wow. Chicken shouldn’t be allowed to be that good.

And after that, we couldn’t end without dessert.

We split two.

First up was the “Chocolate” which came with malted ganache with chocolate fondant and malt ice cream. Honestly, besides being chocolate, the description didn’t wow me all that much. But the dessert itself was as tasty as it was beautiful.

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Lots of textures and flavors going on.

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But sadly, that is all I remember about it because it was so overshadowed by the second dessert.

This was the “Milk & Honey” which was described as being shortbread, brittle & ice cream.

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First, it was one of the most visually gorgeous dishes I have ever seen. So beautiful, in fact, that it has graced the cover of the NYC Nom Nom Facebook page since we ate there (with many people asking where the picture was taken).

Second, it tasted as good as it looked.  The honey flavors sparkled in my mouth.  The brittle and the ice cream were fantastic, with a white softer crunch that was somewhere close to meringue.  The taste of the honey itself was insanely good and made me reminisce a bit about our burnt honey ice cream experience from a few days prior at The French Laundry.

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What a way to end it!  It was quite the finale to our incredible trip (and this was right in our backyard).  Eating here made me remember again how much I love living in this crazy city.  I have the best food in the world within walking distance.

And this was a prime example of how good food can be.

Every morsel was delicious and thoughtful. The food here was smart but not smarty pants smart.  It was hot librarian smart.  (And it was chicken!)

I cannot wait for more.

Total Nom Points: 9 out of 10

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Honeymoon: Seattle- Canlis

10 Jul

Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while knows that we are huge Top Chef Sluts.  So it should come as no surprise that one of the restaurants we first looked into upon planning our honeymoon that was starting in Seattle was Canlis, a restaurant prominently featured on Episode 4 of Top Chef Season 10 (Seattle).

We were intrigued by the fact that it had been around for 50 years and then as we read more, we knew it was a primary destination for dining.  Chef Jason Franey was a finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest (stay tuned for our Portland Honeymoon write-up coming soon to read about who actually won) and the executive chef won Cochon 555 Seattle this year.

Upon arrival, we were immediately greeted by name (mind readers) and wished a very warm congratulations on our honeymoon.  They asked us about the details of our honeymoon trip (Mike didn’t even remember telling them about our road trip).  They informed us that our table was not quite ready but we were welcome to get a drink at the bar, next to the (very good) piano player. Our drinks were not only tasty, they were also absolutely beautiful.

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The flower petals really made it look that much prettier.

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We were sat the moment our drinks came out.  The dining room is timeless.

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With a nice view of the water (even in the fog and pouring rain).

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We sat down to a lovely note from the Canlis family and two glasses of champagne on the house.

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We hear the menu changed recently, ever so slightly. Here was the menu when we were there at the end of June, 2013:

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We decided on the 4 Course menu because we both had heard great things about the duck and wanted the opportunity to try that.

We started with 3 amuse bouche (bouches? is bouche a plural?)

From left to right, it was a morel mushroom tart (nice, rich flavor), black olive coronet with salmon mousse, pickled rutabaga, and wasabi tobiko (which was packed with flavor and textures that mixed together perfectly), and a fried egg yolk, which we were advised had a liquid center “So don’t try to take a bite. You have to commit.” And commit we did.  Great flavor and a nice middle ground between a hard boiled egg (which would be way too solid when fried) and a poached egg (which would be too runny).

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The holders were also lovely and showed off each bite as if it were artwork.

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The wine was a local Pinot Noir (from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, a place we were soon to visit) that the sommelier picked (and we really loved).

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Our first of 4 courses arrived:

Mike chose the smoked Copper River salmon which came with yellow and purple potatoes. (Salmon is very popular in this part of the country and was on nearly every menu. I believe it was also salmon season, though every day could be salmon season up there for all we know.  Funny thing… I usually don’t like salmon, but every time I had it up in the Pacific Northwest, I really loved it.  Totally different flavor and none of that gross salmony-fishiness I hate).

The salmon was smoky and light but filled with flavor.  Both Mike I said that we wished there were more (not because the portion was small, which it should be with a multi-course tasting menu) but because it was so good.

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I chose the foie gras with cherry beet puree, cocoa brioche, dehydrated milk with pistachio.

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The brioche had a great crunch and everything combined perfectly.  There was tarta and sweet to pair with the rich and dense foie and brioche.  One of the best preparations of foie gras I’ve had.

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As we were awaiting our next course, we noticed a manager-like looking man come to our side of the restaurant and look around as if observing his flock.  Mike went totally out of character and struck up a conversation with him, only to find out that he is one of the owners (and grandsons of the original owners), Brian Canlis.  Brian was warm and genuine and we instantly liked him.  We had a quick discussion about where we were from and Brian asked us our favorite restaurant, to which we answered in unison, Eleven Madison Park. He got very excited at this and asked us if we knew about the connection between Canlis and Eleven Madison Park.  We did not, so he told us he went to Cornell with William Guidara, business partner in Eleven Madison Park.  (And now the presence of a special Ithaca Beer on the EMP menu made much more sense!)  I told him I went to Ithaca College and we had a great moment reminiscing about the lovely town of Ithaca, NY.  Brian then excitedly asked if we ordered the duck and when we confirmed we had, he said he thought it beat EMP’s duck (sadly, we didn’t try the duck, we chose the beef when we were at EMP, but the friendly competition was quite adorable). He then kindly excused himself and we went back to our meal, but not before the waiter was kind enough to take a lovely picture.

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For course two, Mike chose the famous Canlis Salad (which is prepared table-side, but only for bigger parties from what we observed). This was one great salad.  The inclusion of mint was fantastic without being overpowering. It tasted like it was all picked fresh moments before hitting our plate.

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I went with the pork belly, which came with an almond vanilla sauce with huckleberry.  The pork belly could not have been cooked better. The creamy fat, the hammy pork, the crispy top.  A great balance of flavors and textures with a slightly sweet sauce to compliment the pork and bring it all together

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And then they showed us the duck.

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A few minutes later, it came out fully prepared and ready to be tasted. They had carved up the breast (which included seeds a black peppercorns) and made a duck leg confit croquet, which they plated separately for each of us.  There was also an orange marmalade, fennel puree, and bruleed onion.  The flowers were grown in their garden.

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The crispiness of the seeds on the duck were great, and I really loved the way the spicy black peppercorns mixed with the orange marmalade, which was tart yet sweet.  I was enamored by the marmalade, but, sadly, Mike is not a fan of orange/marmalade/tart sauces so it wasn’t his cup of tea. Luckily, since it was all separate, he could enjoy it just fine without while I lapped it up.

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Our eyes were much bigger than our bellies, and we ordered an additional twice baked potato when we first put the order in.  As we finished up the duck, we realized that the potato never came. We were commenting about how this was a very good thing because we were FAR too full and still had dessert to go, but just as we were concluding that, a huge dish of fries came out and our very concerned waitress. She informed us that she forgot to put the potato in and it takes a bit of time to prepare, so as soon as she realized her mistake she put it in and had them make us fries (which are much faster to prepare) to make sure we had something.  Service was impeccable until this moment, and I always say that mistakes happen, but it’s about how you fix them.  Talk about a fix! Not only immediate response but a solution of fries to boot.

We informed her that we were just too full so we didn’t need the potato and we requested she wrap up the fries. Though not before trying a couple, and WOW! What fries!  Sadly, we didn’t have a fridge in our room so the fries couldn’t be saved.  (I nearly cried as I set them in the trash the next morning.)

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But I couldn’t be too sad for very long since the dessert menu was in front of us.

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Mike chose the Mille-Feuille and I chose the Pistachio Génoise.

The Mille-Feuille was absolutely delicious with lots of textures and flavors.

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But I really loved my pistachio dessert. The cherries on it were just fantastic.

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The pieces of gelee were great.

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And the crisp of the pistachio was great with the flavorful ice cream.

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And we loved the extra touch of writing “Congratulations” on both our plates.

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We were also given macarons in two flavors: negroni and apple pie.

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They were both great but if I could spend the rest of my life eating those apple pie macarons, I would be a happy lady.

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And just when we thought they couldn’t make the meal any better, they gave us a chocolate breakfast brioche for the following morning (which wound up being absolutely sensational, even without a lick of butter to add… we just tore into it and it started our last morning in Seattle perfectly). I absolutely love this touch. It leaves such a great lasting impression on a diner to give them something to eat from the restaurant the next morning.  Classy.

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The entire meal was special. Absolutely special.

The service was some of the best we have ever seen, but not in a mechanical way like some fine restaurants seem to specialize in. This service was warm, personal, and made us feel like we were the only ones in the entire restaurant.  And just as we were wrapping up to leave, Brian came back over to see how our meal was (and of course we gushed) and then he offered us a tour of the kitchen. (BUT OF COURSE!)

He excitedly showed us pictures of his family and the restaurant. One was of opening night and had all the women of the day wearing hats, drinking whiskey, and smoking cigarettes.  Such a time-specific moment.  He was kind and warm and told us he just enjoyed having some drinks at the bar and being in the restaurant that evening.  You could tell he absolutely loves this place and what he does. We talked about how much we envied that he got to grow up and come to own such a place. His enthusiasm was infectious.  He was excited that we were so excited to be there. For half a moment, we felt like part of the family.

And boy what a family that would be to be part of!

I would say that if you’re in Seattle, be sure to go here… but the truth of it is that you should just be sure to go here. Make a special trip to Seattle.  Canlis is one of the best of the best of the best.

Total Nom Points: 9 out of 10

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