It may not look like much, but the above picture is breaking news from the world of Seattle fine dining: Canlis, long an unquestioned Starbucks province, is now home to an ambitious new espresso and brewed coffee program featuring Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea, Sightglass, Barismo and Transcend Coffee.
For those who are unfamiliar, Canlis has been the grande dame of the Seattle restaurant scene since 1950, boasting jaw-dropping tree-lined views of the Cascade Mountains and Lake Union and a sweeping, distinctive “mock Lloyd Wright” design from noted architect Roland Terry. Today Canlis is among Seattle’s premiere special occasion destinations for the dining room alone, while featuring an exemplary menu of charmingly throwback mid-century contemporary cuisine and a namesake dish – prawns sauteed in vermouth, garlic, red chiles and lime – that has stridently held forth on the appetizers list since, oh, the Eisenhower administration.
The new coffee program at Canlis features Intelligentsia’s Black Cat espresso, Intelli House Blend for drip, and a rotating menu of single origin offerings served via Chemex and curated by Edwin Martinez, of Onyx Coffee / Finca Vista Hermosa / Hario U.S.A. Initial Chemex offerings include Kenya Gichathaini from Intelligentsia, Kenya Nyeri from Sightglass, Costa Rica Monte Canet from Barismo, and Costa Rica Santa Lucia from Transcend Coffee in Edmonton. A Chemex on the table at Canlis? Sounds like we’ve died and gone to MoMA.
In short, it’s a tableside coffee service menu on par with any other restaurant in America, and a truly dramatic setting in which to enjoy fine specialty coffees. Impressive stuff, to be sure, and a huge wholesale “get” for Intelli and the rest of these roasters, especially in light of the small fortune Starbucks execs spent on the top floor of Canlis throughout the 1990s. Start saving up now for your next meal at Canlis, or beg your sugar daddy / wealthy benefactor / mom and dad to get dressed up and take you there ASAP.