Dinner at Canlis

My original instinct for this post was to do a kitschy spin on our Architecture On Trend Series with a surprise twist ending. And while the setting for our story has a good amount of Seattle architectural history, there was just too much story to tell to also add in the history of the location. So, maybe I’ll put those images and research into a future post, but for now, a summertime romance. Sorry in advance for a lengthy post ūüėČ

The scene: Canlis restaurant.

Canlis¬†is arguably the best restaurant in Seattle. It sits perched atop Lake Union hidden behind the trees, with a gorgeous midcentury¬†dining room with quintessentially Seattle views. Probably the thing that makes Canlis most special is its history, since its been on the Seattle fine dining scene¬†since 1950. Its been in the hearts of SEattleites¬†for a couple generations now, and its the type of place where you see the director of the ballet, or city council members as regulars. Its also really fancy and its also a place I’ve never even been close to going to dinner.

Photo by JL¬†Photografia via Elephantine (from Rachel’s beautiful wedding)

So, how did I end up eating here you ask? And more importantly, why does it deserve its own post? Well, rewind a little bit.

One of the reasons for the blog silence of the last couple weeks is that my boyfriend Erik came to town. Erik is from¬†Western Washington¬†(his family lives in our state capitol, Olympia), but he’s serving in the Navy on an aircraft carrier currently stationed in Norfolk, VA. We started dating here at home, but the military has sent him all over the eastern seabord since then, so we’ve been making it work long distance for the last 4 years. Yep, its pretty crazy. He was supposed to be stationed back in WA about 2 years ago but the Navy had its own twist to our plans.

We’ve dated way longer long distance than we have in the same town. Like, 10x as long. Most people think we’re nuts, and that we’re living in some sort of extended vacation reality. But it works for us. I’m an only child and pretty independent, so for the most part I can hold my own. Plus, I have awesome family and friends and have never been the type to rely on a relationship for sole support. Erik works a lot, so even if he was in town we’d have time constraints on our relationship. Plus, being forced into verbal communication has really made our relationship grow in ways that it might not if he’d been in town and we’d have gone on movie and concert dates. In short, we HAVE to communicate well to keep things going.

That being said, when he got orders to Norfolk Virginia 2 years ago, we had a pretty serious “where is this going and what are we doing?” conversation. Because lets face it, no matter how well long distance works for you, its still¬†no walk in the park. And its probably not worth it if you can’t for sure say you’re in it for the long haul. That was the point at which we committed to each other and to making this work, and to knowing that it was a relationship that would be going to the next level… someday.

Erik gets to come home usually two weeks a year. One at Christmas and sometime during the summer (which is great since we both celebrate summer birthdays). The rest of the year, I fly to Virginia to see him, usually every 8 weeks or so. Two weeks ago, it was his turn to come back to Seattle, which is awesome since Seattle is SO much more pleasant this time of year than the sweltering mid-atlantic. We had a jam-packed week full of friends, family, birthdays, beaches, and tons of good food (we try to hit up all our fave spots when he’s home since food in Norfolk is less-than-stellar).

When he first got home, he told me that at the end of the week he wanted to go out to a nice dinner since it had been awhile since we had a really special date night. He took some suggestions from me on “fancy” places around town, and I threw out Canlis on a whim because, hey, it doesn’t get any fancier than that, and I’d never been. He quietly said he’d decide where we were going but that it was going to be secret until the night of. The only clue he gave me was that I’d need a really nice outfit. Not having anything in my closet that truly fit the bill, we went shopping! I bought a dress from Nordstrom and a skirt, top, and¬†sparkly belt¬†combo from Ann Taylor. Throughout the rest of the week the details of our date remained murky, and I started to get a little suspicious that this would be an extra-special “special date”. Naturally, I channeled this suspicious and nervousness into an all-out obsession about which outfit I would wear. It was a little ridiculous.

Saturday rolled around, we hosted a gathering for a bunch of Seattle bloggers in the afternoon, and then we started to get ready for dinner. Because of a snafu in our reservations, we didn’t have to be at dinner until 9:30 which ended up working out really well in giving us a relaxed amount of time to get dressed (I chose the¬†pink ann taylor¬†combo, btw).¬†Erik pulled a brand new Hugo Boss¬†suit out of the closet that had been hiding, and thats when I was like, huh? I wonder where this night will end up.

It was still a surprise heading to the restaurant, but then we pulled into the driveway at Canlis¬†and I knew we are in for a treat. They do hospitality right there! A smile greeting you around every corner. They sat us at the Owner’s Table, Table #1, and told us the story of how Peter Canlis liked that table because you still can see the view to the lake, but you also get to watch the whole restaurant so you can see comings and goings and how everything flows. You also get a phone that connects straight to the host station so you can make demands of your wait staff (or so the story goes, lol).

[The restaurant was very romantically lit, but that also means not spectacular for photos. Especially since you are trying to be cool and casual and like “oh yeah, of course we come here all the time” instead of “this is amazing I must take photos of every detail]. We settled in, I ordered a cocktail (A negroni) and we decided to get really crazy and order the 7 course seasonal chef’s tasting menu (with wine pairings). I told myself earlier in the night when I thought our special date was veering toward the extra-special that I would not let myself guilty about what we ordered and how much it cost. But, still, eep.

The food was incredible. I have phone photos of each course, but I thought I would spare you the details. There were crazy things like geoduck¬†and maple whisky steelhead roe. There was also strawberry fennel soup shooters and glorious lamb. After the 5th course, which was the “main” course, I said to Erik, “Everything has been so amazing, how could there be anything more”. To which he replied “Actually, since you brought it up, there is a little more” and he reached towards his pocket and pulled out a teensy¬†little box (how you hide a box in the pants pocket of a slim cut suit is still beyond me, btw). He opened it up and indeed made our special date very extra special by asking me to marry him.

I had thought that even if this was the night that he proposed, it would be dinner and then the something. I thought we’d go up to Kerry park where we used to hang out when we were first dating. Or, we’d go for a nightcap somewhere, or something. I didn’t expect it to happen AT dinner. So the first words out of my mouth when he started to pull out the box were “This is happening right now?” and he said “Yep, this is happening right now!”. I teared up and of course said yes.

He had told the restaurant when he made the reservation that he’d be proposing, so the wait staff had been in on it from the beginning (which might explain them seating us at the owner’s table and the slight twinkle in their eye). After they saw it had happened, they swooped in immediately with glasses of champage for us and our next dessert course with a congratulatory message.

It was already late at this point (like 11:30 I think), so we took our time sipping champagne, making our way through 3 desserts (two courses as part of the tasting menu and then macarons with our check), and an espresso. By the time the valet pulled our car up it was after 1:30 a.m. We were the last people in the restaurant and it was so relaxing to just be able to sit there, enjoy being very newly engaged, and feel like we owned the place. It should be noted that in addition to their amazing warmth and service that night, the extrememly generous folks at Canlis gifted us our wine selections throughout the meal as an engagement gift, which was a really special gesture as they were ah-mazing.

We had the host snap a couple of photos of us, which aren’t the best, but they capture the moment and thats all that matters. Plus, you get to see how perfectly my outfit choice coordinated with Erik’s that he picked for himself. Pretty much fantastic.

Probably the coolest thing about it all is the story behind the ring. A couple years ago Erik told me I could start sending him some ideas of styles that I liked so he could get an idea. Of course, most of what I found and loved were vintage, one of a kind, and already sold. So, to remedy this, Erik took a few of my favorite rings and worked with Green Lake Jewelry Designs to design something custom just for me. I love it and couldn’t be more happy. I’ll do another post showing the design process. They keep it all online so after we got home that night I was able to see it evolve from concept sketches to a CAD rendering to the real thing!

Its a rose cut center stone which I love for its uniqueness and the fact that it lays flat more like a band. No getting caught on things!

The next morning, we did as you do, go to Top Pot for donuts and take goofy shots with you eatting them all bling-tastic.

¬†This is the photo I posted to facebook to announce our news. I think it probably fits into humble-brag¬†territory (look how silly I look eating a giant donut, but hey, look at my rock!) but I couldn’t resist. Their fresh raspberry glazed was in season and its just too good!

Because of his carrier’s schedule for 2013, a wedding isn’t probably going to be do-able in that timeframe, so we’re looking at early 2014. What most people don’t realize about the military is that even if you ask for time off and are granted it, they can cancel that leave at any moment. So if his carrier gets sent out to do some sea trials, they could cancel his leave and therefore our wedding. Neither of us want to deal with the mess that would be so we’re just going to wait until thats¬†a non-issue. Yes, this means a long engagment, but it also means time to plan a wedding with (hopefully) less stress. We’ll see if that proves to be true.

Besides a post about the design process of my ring (since I’m a design nerd and also had no idea how the process went and thought it might be helpful), I probably won’t talk about a lot of wedding stuff on this here blog. Its not¬†what we set out to document here, and this is D and I’s shared space and I don’t want it overtaken with wedding shtuff. If you want to see my thoughts on our big day, you can follow my¬†pinterest board¬†dedicated to it, or I’m sure there will be some linkies showing up on twitter from time to time.

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13 thoughts on “Dinner at Canlis

  1. a huge congratulations to you two!! such a sweet story :)

    have fun being engaged ‚Äď I had a long engagement, too, and while I told myself I wouldn’t get wedding obsessed, it happened anyway, of course ūüėČ


  2. Yay Yay Yay!!!!!!! I am SO beyond thrilled for you guys! I love this story and I love that you guys are engaged and I am just soooooo happy that I will get to call you my sister in law (or we could just shorten it to sister hehe!)

  3. Aww, Congrats!! :)

    How exciting! And I LOVE your ring, by the way.. I work for a custom jeweler (umm.. my dad) and we do projects like yours for a living. SO bring on the CAD talks!! :)

    I’ve been wondering if you guys would be engaged soon.. (even as just a blog-friend it seemed like you two love birds were pretty serious!)

  4. What a wonderful fairytale evening! YAY! SOOOO happy for your both! You looked gorgeous, the ring is beautiful, the food looked AH-mazing and Erik is a lucky man. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to your nuptials in 2014!! :)

  5. I love everything about this post….I’m SO HAPPY for you guys! I’ve never been to canilis but it’s on my list. When you said Green Lake Jewelery Works, I laughed. I’ve been cutting their ads out of newspapers and the seattle weekly since I was a tween to “save” just to show people what kind of rings I liked…hahaha. PS – LOVE LOVE LOVE your outfit, good choice!

  6. I am so so happy for you guys – what a beautiful and special story!! And the ring is just gorgeous!! Conratulations you will be such a beautiful bride…ps I love both your outfits from the engagement dinner too :)

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