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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Upmarket restaurant

Mon–Fri 5:30pm–9:30pm
Sat 5:00pm–10:00pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Essential


Queen Anne
2576 Aurora Ave. N.
Seattle, WA
(206) 2833313
After more than 50 years, still the special-occasion spot in Seattle

Canlis is the restaurant where you: (a) propose, (b) make partner, or (c) try to instill the idea of prosperity on your progeny before they head off to pursue a liberal-arts education. It has the best service in Seattle. There’s no fleece in sight. (Men must wear sports jackets, a practice that’s almost extinct in America, even in New York’s most expensive restaurants. This is the 21st century.) Nonetheless, the atmosphere is utterly unique. The place practically floats on Lake Union. Prices are sky-high.

Canlis was known and valued for years for being old-school—caviar, shrimp cocktail, surf and turf. There have been some improvements to the menu, like a new version of the “Peter Canlis Prawns,” the restaurant’s signature appetizer. The new one is more delicate, cooked in butter, and tossed in a garlicky, red chili-flecked sauce. But for the most part, Canlis keeps doing what it has always done well: beef tenderloin (Waygu, these days), pricey lobster, and Seattle’s best duck preps. In the past, the kitchen has too often played it safe, but this is starting to change. The wine list is extensive, spanning the spectrum from 30-year-old Bordeaux to new artisanal Washington releases.

You can bypass the wallet-busting dining room and have drinks and nibbles in the lounge, which is the best spot in the house to hear surprisingly good Radiohead piano covers.

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