A Birthday, An Anniversary, and the First Goodbye

When Jeremiah asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, I had my answer ready.  I wanted to go eat at Canlis, and I wanted to order just exactly what I wanted.  Canlis is one of the oldest and most famous restaurants in Seattle…it’s also one of the most expensive.  And so, we waited and planned and saved…and we didn’t actually make it to the restaurant for another two months–which was just in time to be able to roll our anniversary dinner and my birthday into one big celebration 🙂  Talk about no guilt ordering whatever I wanted!


This Canlis adventure also happened to fall on the last weekend night that Taylor and John David were going to be with us in Seattle–and so we added a goodbye to the list of reasons we were going.


And then, we couldn’t go eat at a restaurant like Canlis without taking our dear friends and knowledgable foodies–Azurae and Danny.  These two are always up for a good celebration, and they have a way of taking fun to new heights.


The restaurant itself is beautiful–very Frank Lloyd Wrightesque with stone and wood and glass, and tucked into towering evergreen trees.  The views overlook Lake Union and when the (mandatory) valet takes your keys, all he asks is your name.  They memorize each face–and set the mood for the type of service you’ll be experiencing for the rest of the night.


Azurae and Danny knew one of the waiters at Canlis, and he took it upon himself to make sure we had double the service and double the experience.  Here, Jeremiah is embarrassing us all with his choice of drink order.  He didn’t know that the (girley) “Free Spirited Libation” that he ordered was alcohol free.  Here, he’d just humbly asked our waiter-friend why his “Pineapple Spimanti” tasted like it had no alcohol…  Then he said, “Have you ever had a man order one of these drinks in this restaurant?”  “No sir, I can’t say that we have.”  I ordered him an Old Fashioned and here he’s trying to defend the refreshing qualities of his beverage of choice.


We ate and talked and laughed–for FOUR hours, and it felt like we’d just sat down to eat.  I guess that’s how it goes with good food and good friends.


Azurae had worked out a “plan of attack” for how we could sample all the best items on the menu.  We had appetizers, salads, meals from every food group, and dessert…It was my favorite type of adventure 🙂


Smoked Salmon appetizer


Duck for two anyone? They did take it back to the kitchen and slice it for Danny and Azurae. It would have been a little intimidating to slice the flowery wonder.


Wagyu Beef Tenderloin


Taylor's Lamb Chop

After dinner, Azurae and Danny’s friend took us on a private tour of the hidden rooms of Canlis.  He regaled us with stories of years gone by, famous guests, and private moments in this historic place.DSC_0357


Mr. Canlis himself


We were the absolute last people to leave Canlis that night, and it was an experience I don’t think any of us will ever forget.


The next morning we (Taylor, John David, Jeremiah, and me) had a critique of the evening’s meal over the breakfast table.  Jeremiah and I have an unspoken rule that we don’t critique things until after the night is completely over.  If one of us is unhappy with something, we don’t want to spoil the moment by admitting it…I think is how that got started.  We talked through the sashimi tuna, the smoked salmon, the savory prawns, the salad, the duck, the Wagyu tenderloin, the lamb, my lobster, the halibut, the twice baked potatoes, the white asparagus, the Grand Marnier Souffle, the creme brulee, and the gelato sampler…because, you see, we had all ordered different things and sampled them all…and here was our conclusion on Canlis (from four average people who are not food critics but who really, really love to eat):

You cannot beat the experience, the atmosphere, or the service–anywhere.  We felt like royalty, and our food was served all at once, by an army of waiters who presented each course like the masterpieces that they were.  While this place could be pretentious, we felt completely comfortable and at home–like we were part of the Canlis family.  Every waiter we met was very knowledgable about all the items we asked about on the menu, and they were more than happy to discuss them with us, weigh pros and cons, and help us make decisions (without being pushy).  Top notch.  I really can’t say enough about the service.

There were a few food items that should not be missed if you get the chance to go:

The Prawns (shrimp for those of you from the South :)) in a white wine/butter sauce (they aren’t on the menu today so I can’t give the exact name).  I wanted to pick the plate up and lick it, the sauce was so good and the prawns were perfectly firm yet tender.

The Canlis Salad.  Simple but perfect. Refreshing.  You can read all of the ingredients here. I am craving it this very minute.

The Wagyu Tenderloin.  Canlis boasts about this steak,”Canlis was the first restaurant ever to serve American grown kobe-style beef. Indulge in the steak that started a revolution.”  And they do it to perfection–crispy and salty on the outside, warm red center as tender as the outside is crispy.  It was the best steak I’ve ever put in my mouth–and I LOVE, LOVE a good steak.  I think the whole table was in agreeance on this one, and poor Jeremiah did not get very many bites of his succulent entree 🙂

So those three things were really spectacular, but everything else….  What we decided is that, because of the price you pay for each entree, you expect that it will be the best whatever that you’ve ever put in your mouth.  It’s a lot of pressure to live up to, maybe even an impossible amount, but while we enjoyed all of the entrees–excluding the steak–we could each think of some place that the fish, or lamb, or duck…was better.  And, maybe because we had a big group and they were so attentive to serving us all at the same time, but we all thought our food wasn’t quite as, well, warm as we’d have liked for it to be.  My lobster was just barely room temp.  Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be or something, but Big Mama likes her food h.o.t.

I hate to end on a negative with such a special place.  If you are in Seattle and want a big time treat for you and your spouse, I can’t think of a better place to go.  If you’re planning to get engaged in Seattle, they even have a secluded private room you can reserve that was so cozy that I wondered what kind of stories those walls must be able to tell.  Saying all that, I am so thankful we got to experience Canlis.


A few, very short, days later Taylor and John David left us to begin their road trip home.  I cried–no, I sobbed–for three mornings in a row.  It was such a special time in our lives, and I told Taylor that their leaving felt very similar to when Mom left me after I’d had Pace–when she was taking care of both of us and trying to teach me how to care for a newborn.  As both of them pulled out of the driveway at these separate points in my life, I felt a mixture of sorrow and panic, “How did it end so quickly and HOW am I supposed to function on my own now?!”

Taylor was my right hand all day long.  Her spunk, spontaneity, and patience made her the best kind of helper to have with my girls.  When I’m always inclined to say, “No girls, lets don’t paint today” (because all I can think of is the mess that I’ll have to clean up afterwards), Taylor’s response is “Y’all want to paint? Awesome! Let’s get it all out.”  And those ten long weeks of mood swings and vomiting with the little Musket growing in my tummy, were eased by her care of me and the girls.

Having John David was like having a second of me in the house.  You know all those things that you think only you can notice that need to be done?  You know all those details like putting shoes actually INTO the closet, or sweeping the crumbs from underneath the table after dinner, or (if you’re in Seattle) sorting trash into its THREE different trash cans and getting them all out to the road on time…he just did those things.  It was marvelous.

We were all a little apprehensive before they moved in, just knowing that things could either go really well or really poorly with two couples living under one roof.  I can say with certainty, at least from Jeremiah and my perspective, I wouldn’t trade those three months–with their long nights of talks in the bay window, their laughter over new recipes prepared for each other, the countless hours of watching my girls grow closer to their Aunt and Uncle, the adventures we were able to share, or the hours of struggling through major life decisions–together for anything.  We love y’all.


8 Responses to “A Birthday, An Anniversary, and the First Goodbye”

  1. Gail says:

    YOU’RE back!!! Two great, great Post in two days!!! LOVE the above story. I will remember that name…IF and when Ashley has to return to Seattle. Thank you for showing all the yummy food, too! I hope you are LOVING being in HOME SWEET HOME BAMA!!! I sure miss it!!! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy, every second…What a sweet, sweet, gift and blessing to be around family and great friends!!! Post some more soon!!! G

  2. Darby says:

    Abby… Loved this post! Still a little bummed we never made it out there! The atmosphere and food looked wonderful!!! And Jeremiah’s drink cracked me up! He should have ordered a shot and thrown it in!? 🙂

  3. joy says:

    I know how hard it is having a sister leave!!! Great post 🙂

  4. Melissa says:

    Hi Abby,

    I wanted to send you a quick note to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. As a native Seattle-ite, it’s been fun to read about your impressions of the Northwest, and reading your blog has given me a much greater appreciation of the South. I’m just sorry that your stay in Seattle happened to coincide with our worst weather on record – that stinks!

    I especially enjoyed your post today about Canlis, (THE place to eat before prom when I was a teenager!), and although it wasn’t your intention, you made me laugh out loud! I guess the idea of separating trash and recycling like we do might seem strange, but honestly, having lived here my whole life, I can tell you that it STRESSES me out to be in other cities where they just throw everything into the trash – together for goodness sakes! 😉

    Thank you so much for sharing, and best wishes for your next adventure.

  5. Nancy says:

    What a precious post! 3 beautiful couples having such a beautiful meal! Your writing is so perfect!

  6. Taylor says:

    Abby — We Love Yall too — fighting back tears at work! What a marvelous and special time with you and your family. I sobbed too as we drove away that day — as you saw — those 3 months could not have been any better… and really any worse:) ha ha ha

  7. Azurae says:

    What a special night!!! Thanks for letting us tag along and share in it with you. I agree with your write up on Canlis 100%. Isn’t it funny how the 3 things you specifically mentioned have been on the menu for years?! Just goes to show…if it ain’t broke…!

    Miss and love ALL of you!

  8. Ana says:

    I found your blog! It makes it seem like you guys aren’t too far away now that I can read about your life in Alabama.

    I hope that you all had a good trip there and are enjoying where you are.

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