Canlis Pivot & Evolves…

If you ever visit Seattle, there are certain things that most people do… a visit to the Space Needle (the restaurant for a tourist place is actually pretty good), a stroll thru Pike Place Market with maybe a stop across the street at the original Starbucks. If you like rock n’ roll, the Museum of Pop Culture is cool, along with Seattle Art Museum on 1st for some great eye candy as well. And if you like wine, a half an hour drive north to Woodinville where the Chateau Ste Michelle is your first big stop on the right is a terrific wine experience as they have a bounty of wines to taste and beautiful grounds to walk around. 


And before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Canlis restaurant was known as THE place to blow it out if you had a special birthday, anniversary or event to celebrate.

A gorgeous restaurant of glass and wood overlooking Lake Union – Canlis did an incredible pivot to offer bagels in the morning and gourmet burgers thru lunch and dinner. Even a drive in movie night in their parking lot which sold out as well… anything to keep the lights on …

A fourth generation restaurateur Mark Canlis recently told Esquire magazine, as for the legacy of fine dining in a Seattle landmark… “Here’s what everyone forgets about fine dining. Fine dining is the most considered form of caring about people with food. That’s all it is.” And when the style of caring shifts, you need to shift with it. “This,” he says, “is the most Canlis we’ve ever been.”


And through it all their beverage director Nelson Daquip has done a remarkable job as well, pulling off a fine balance of selling some of their best bottles from their well stocked cellar to keep the lights on, but also holding back so when things return to normal he’s still got one of the best cellars to offer diners.

Despite all the Covid-19 craziness, Nelson was happy to do the NSI quiz and rose to the occasion.  Cheers…

What was last night’s dinner? Our chef did a great job with take-out meat and vegetarian enchiladas.

Favorite music? I like old school hip-hop with a little R&B thrown in.

Favorite drink? Being the Beverage Director here, you got to be open to a lot of drinks, but lately I’ve been enjoying more white wine, leaning towards Chablis.

Nelson Daquip

Favorite restaurant in Seattle besides Canlis? I love a place in Chinatown called Kau Kau. Awesome bbq pork, duck, chicken and they’re doing a great job with take-out right now as well.

Favorite thing about living and working in Seattle? You know I never thought I’d say this, being originally from Hawaii. But I love the weather here. It can get pretty soupy here from November to February and I’ll usually take a break and see the family back home. But when I come back, I’m happy to see the rain, mist and fog. And then when it breaks in the spring, oh man is it cool to be here, just gorgeous views.

Any wine, trip or restaurant on your bucket list? I may be wishing on a grand star, but I’d love to have some of Henri Jayer’s Grand Cru. (Great goal, Decanter mag says Grand Cru clocks in as the world’s most expensive wine at $15, 195 a bottle).

What makes a great restaurant? I may be a little prejudiced here, but I think it’s service. You have to have great chefs and food of course, but if the service isn’t there, it’s all for naught. I’ve been here 18 years and I can’t believe how much I’ve grown. I keep learning and it all comes from the top down.

Teamwork at its best!

Any brush with celebrity? Oh man, we hosted a private birthday party for one of the big tech guys and everybody was here… I was just in awe…

Was it Bill Gates? No, it wasn’t his party, but he was here. It was just incredible, never forget it.

Final thoughts? A bit of a sigh.. I’m just looking so forward to the day when I can open a bottle and talk with diners without a mask…

Nelson Daquip