Canoe: Part 1

Last February, my wife and I visited Canoe for Valentine’s Day dinner. Ever since, we’ve considered it one our favorite places tried in Atlanta. After a little over a year we decided to return. Some of the dishes will be repeats from last time, others will be new to us.

We split all the appetizers and desserts between the two of us, and ordered our own entrées. The first appetizer was a repeat from last time, and was definitely worth the second try. It was Canoe’s House Smoked Salmon on a crispy potato cake with Vermont goat’s cheese.

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House Smoked Salmon

This was my favorite appetizer. I love smoked salmon and the waiter informed us that, per the name, it was made in-house. It was served on top of crispy potatoes, similar to very thin hash browns or thin sliced fried onions.

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Crispy Potato Base

The salmon was wrapped around the goat’s cheese, which had the consistency of a thick mayonnaise.

The top was sprinkled with mostly green onion and a little red onion. It was garnished with sprouts and a green tinted sauce on the side, which I was unable to identify.

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Onion & Sprout Garnish

This appetizer has some amazing flavors. There is nothing here I didn’t like. The majority of the food was very soft with the exception of the crispy potatoes that added the opposite texture for a remarkable palatableness. This will probably be my go-to dish on future visits.

Rating: 10/10

The second appetizer was a Smoked Georgia Mountain Trout. It was a special not on the menu that the chef had prepared for that night. The server’s explanation convinced me to add this to my order.

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Smoked Georgia Mountain Trout

The base of the dish is a smoked Georgia mountain trout. This is chopped and sits on top of diced fennel and granny smith apple that have been dressed in lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. The dish is served cold, and with the presentation of a ceviche.

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Ceviche Presentation

The entire thing is then drizzled with a bacon and whole grain mustard vinaigrette dressing.

The most unique part of this dish was the skin. It is drenched in flour (although you don’t see it when it’s served), and then flash fried so that it becomes extra crispy. This is placed on top of the trout and garnished with sprouts on top and capers on the plate.

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Crispy Skin with Garnish

I found this appetizer to be fairly salty but had a satisfactory taste. It wasn’t my favorite but it was definitely something worth trying, and because it was a special that night, I’m glad I did. The crispy skin on top was something I’ve never seen before and definitely added a lot to the presentation and taste.

Rating: 6/10

Appetizer number three was a Thinly Sliced Duck Pastrami with pickled radish, pumpernickel toast and blood orange mayonnaise. It was beautifully presented and included all the ingredients needed to make up a gourmet sandwich.

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Duck Pastrami

One thing not mentioned in the description of this dish was very thinly sliced and marinated granny smith apples, which to me actually had the most pronounced taste that stood out among everything else.

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Granny Smith Apple

The main portion of this dish was of course the pastrami, which to me honestly tasted like most any pastrami you could get at a deli. With so much going on here, it was hard to get enough pastrami by itself to really see if there was a difference in taste.

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Pastrami

The pickled radishes did not seem to have much of a flavor either, but as stated before, the granny smith apples definitely had a fantastic drive that was unmatched.

The bread was a pumpernickel toast, and was crispy and had a heavily herbed taste. Outside of the main ingredients, this had a savoriness that also stood out. It is the one thing my wife remembers most about the pastrami appetizer.

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Pumpernickel Toast

The blood orange mayonnaise was dripped at the four corners of the plate, but did not seem to have any unique taste compared to average mayonnaise.

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Blood Orange Mayonnaise

Overall I was very satisfied with the dish and would most likely order it again.

Rating: 7/10

Our fourth and last appetizer was the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with yuzu dressed cabbage slaw.

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Jumbo Lump Crab Cake

I thought the cabbage slaw in this was fairly average and it didn’t impress me too much. My wife on the other hand, found that the slaw complemented the dish well, especially with the somewhat creamy yuzu sauce that came with it. Yuzu is an East Asian citrus fruit, which added something different to what we are used to finding with this common side.

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Cabbage Slaw

I usually don’t find slaw to be anything more than an average taste, and this was no exception, but the yuzu sauce was definitely a change compared to the typical creamier mayonnaise based sauces that most American slaws are prepared with.

We both agree that the crab cake was absolutely fantastic. It tasted very fresh, was not over or under cooked, and was seasoned very well.

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Crab Cake

This “fine dining” crab cake was no comparison to one you’d be served in the average restaurant, which so happens to be the only ones I’ve had in my life. It was enough to make me disregard my feelings toward the normally uninviting side of slaw.

Rating: 9/10

My entrée choice was the Slow Roasted Carolina Rabbit with swiss chard – bacon ravioli, sweet potato hash and candied garlic sauce. It is Canoe’s signature dish.

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Slow Roasted Carolina Rabbit

I have learned that it’s the only dish that has stayed on what is normally a seasonally rotating menu since the restaurant’s opening in 1995. I ordered it last time and enjoyed it enough to remember and order again over a year later.

There are probably many things that keep me from being and exceptional food reviewer, and one is that I apparently don’t have a great palate. To me personally, I have trouble telling the difference between rabbit and chicken. Although in my defense there was a lot of flavor in this entrée, so regardless of what protein it was, what I COULD taste was the seasoning.

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Rabbit

If someone didn’t tell me what type of meat that was though, I would have assumed it was just chicken.

What I liked most about it were the accompaniments. The sweet potato hash has a sort of a cooked carrot texture and look, and of course a similarly sweet taste that comes from sweet potatoes. The candied garlic sauce was also excellent.

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Sweet Potato Hash on Garlic Sauce

My favorite part of the whole dish however, was the Swiss chard – bacon ravioli. It is unlike any taste I’ve ever experienced with ravioli.

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Swiss Chard – Bacon Ravioli

The bacon adds a salty taste, and that combined with the flavor of the Swiss chard is a perfect combination. Excellent flavor all around. I wish there had been a few more on the plate.

Rating: 7/10

My wife’s choice was the Slow Roasted Beef Short Rib with celery root whipped potatoes, and black radish slaw. A personal favorite of hers since we made our first short ribs at home about a year ago, she’s come to love the texture and flavor brought by this fattier cut of beef.

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Slow Roasted Beef Short Rib

I did finish about the last quarter of this entrée in order to get a taste for myself. The Beef Short Rib was cooked perfectly. It was medium rare, and like all beef short ribs it was so tender and flavorful it was able to be cut with a fork.

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Short Rib & Whipped Potatoes

I was pleasantly surprised by the celery root whipped potatoes. They were incredibly creamy and the flavor of the sauce poured over them was perfect.

As you may have suspected, I felt the slaw added little to the dish.

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Black Radish Slaw

In this case however, my wife agreed and said the other flavors in this dish overpowered the flavor of the slaw. It seemed as though it was just a filler to the meal. Despite that, this is definitely something we would both order again in the future.

Rating: 8.5/10

It was time for dessert. On our last visit the server recommended another specialty to Canoe, a Popcorn Ice Cream Sundae. We didn’t try it then, mostly with the thought that with all the exotic desserts you can get when eating out at more upscale restaurants, why order an ice cream sundae? On top of that, popcorn has that annoying tendency to get stuck in your teeth and it wasn’t something I wanted to deal with when eating out. Then over the last year I’d read many reviews raving about how amazing this sundae tastes. This time I decided I didn’t want to miss out again.

I’m very happy I gave it a try.

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Popcorn Ice Cream Sundae

The name “popcorn ice cream” comes from how the ice cream is made. The process makes it very different from the average sundae. The chef takes a basic cream, and soaks it in popcorn overnight. The next day the popcorn is filtered out of the cream, and then frozen into ice cream while possibly adding sugar and other ingredients. This then becomes the base of the dessert.

Other ingredients added to the sundae were caramel and the Cracker Jack. As stated in the title, the Cracker Jack was house made.

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Cracker Jack

This ice cream sundae was incredibly sweet. The bottom layer was Cracker Jack mixed with caramel, then topped with the ice cream which had caramel rings throughout.

The top layer was not whipped cream. It was crème fraîche.

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Crème Fraîche

This is basically a “not so” sour cream with 30-45% butterfat, which is then made into a whipped cream look, only much thicker. The high fat content gives it an incredible taste.

Finally the Cracker Jack is placed on top.

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Cracker Jack Topper

You really need to be a fan of caramel and very sweet desserts before ordering this dish. It became an instant favorite for us.

Rating: 10/10

On our last visit, my wife and I ordered the Chocolate Grotto, with salted caramel and pretzel dust. It was so perfect that we decided to order another one the minute we finished it.

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Chocolate Grotto

On this trip we decided that due to our enjoyment last time that we should definitely order it again. In fact, we each ordered our own so we wouldn’t have to share.

When the dessert was served, it appeared to be just a chocolate dome with salt on top. Beware, this is just a trick…

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Chocolate Dome

The plate had a long wide streak of chocolate across it. There was pretzel dust in between this chocolate streak and the dome, adding more salt to the overall flavor.

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Pretzel Dust

The secret to the desert is when you crack it open. Inside was a semi-liquid filling that consists of most likely chocolate and caramel. My wife described it as a sort of a caramel cream sauce. It had a thinner consistency, more like half and half.

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Liquid Chocolate-Caramel

Around this cream sauce was a chocolate mousse, surrounded by a thicker layer of chocolate, and then the outer hard chocolate shell.

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Shell Layers

As much as we loved this last time, I would actually make it my least favorite of tonight’s treats. While that may be the case, it was still very delicious and a must-try treat for anyone visiting Canoe.

Rating: 7.5/10 (not bad for my least favorite)

Our final dessert was this Salted Caramel Turtle, with bittersweet chocolate creméux.

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Salted Caramel Turtle

This dessert was in the form of a tart, and the presentation was well done.

I am unsure of everything that was in the middle, but the top and much of the inside consisted of caramel and was topped with various nuts. This thing was loaded with caramel flavor.

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Turtle Surface

The plate was then drizzled with chocolate sauce, and next to that was the chocolate creméux. The creméux was basically a very delectable chocolate mousse.

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Bittersweat Creméux

This was my second favorite dessert of the night. As a lover of caramel, that was the majority of the taste this offered since this entire tart was filled with the creamy goodness.

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Spilled Turtle

Between the caramel and chocolate, this was obviously a very sweet dessert.

Rating: 7.5/10

My second visit to Canoe was just as enjoyable as the first. It still remains my favorite Atlanta restaurant. I’m not alone. As it stands today, Canoe is rated #1 of 1,315 Atlanta restaurants on TripAdvisor. While I want to try as many new places as possible, this will be my safety net when I need a place to go that I know for certain will offer me great service and fantastic food. There are plenty of dishes here that I still haven’t tried. I will be back.

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