Canlis is the legendary, formal Seattle restaurant. Open since 1950, they have been impressing diners for over sixty years. It is difficult for any restaurant to stay open that long, let alone be at the top of the restaurant scene. Canlis has managed more awards than I could list here and has the reputation of being one of the best restaurants in the country.
Earlier this year, Canlis went about upgrading their drinks menu to feature a more robust beer selection. Their current offering features around 30 well-selected bottles, ranging from traditional Belgian brews like Rochefort Trappist 10, to prime American craft bottles like Russian River Temptation and Allagash Odessey. The selection is heavy on Belgian styles, and light on local brews, with a 2009 bottle of Rogue Issaquah Menage a Frog being the single representative. As you might expect, the prices are steep. But, it is great to see a restaurant of Canlis’ caliber putting any kind of focus on good beer. The list appears on pages 4 & 5 of their beer menu; it’s not buried at the back. They have obviously put some thought into their selections and have put together a list that pairs well with a variety of flavors.
So, what’s the surprise? We had a dinner for the ages at Canlis on Saturday; my wife and I went all out and had the 7-course Chef’s Tasting Menu. I really enjoy wine in addition to beer, and I selected the “Classic” wine flight to pair with my meal. The first four wines were all outstanding. When it came time to bring out something to pair with the last course, a vanilla custard with strawberry, basil and buckwheat, I was expecting some variant of a dessert wine. I was pleasantly surprised when the sommelier presented a glass of Bockor Bellegems Flanders Oud Bruin. Here we are at one of the best restaurants in the country with one of the best wine lists, and they opt to select a beer as the last pour of their “wine” pairing. There was no heads up, no notice, no warning, as we didn’t see the actual menu pictured above until afterward. I expect that some highfalutin, wine-loving diners might cringe upon hearing they were being served beer for their final selection of the night. It was a fantastic pairing. The fruity, light sourness perfectly combined with the dessert, and I’d be surprised to hear any wine drinker say they didn’t enjoy it.
Cheers to the staff at Canlis for being confident enough to take a step like this. It may seem trivial to some, but opening the minds of the types of diners that frequent Canlis to appreciate beer is something that is tough to accomplish.
Oh, and the food? It truly was one of the best dining experiences my wife and I have ever enjoyed. Everything was stellar, from the food, to the view, and very much the service. It was a 4+ hour marathon event that is meant for special occasions (this was for a food-loving friend’s b-day), but I highly suggest saving up and knocking it off your bucket list.