Monday, June 23, 2008

A Long Slow Restaurant Review - Canoe

I realize that normally my restaurant reviews are neither really that quick, or ultimately a review of the restaurant but this weekend I spent a few hours at a spot that I like immensely. Back when Shade and I hung out, like in 2002, it was a little spot we'd hit when she needed a boost. Apparently she needed boosting often back then, as usually the manager would come and chat with her whenever we strolled through. So when she called me last week talking about celebrating her finally getting her MD (yep, all the women I know are doing thangs!) I already knew where we were headed.

Canoe is a lovely little spot in between Vinings and Buckhead, right on the Chattahoochee river. I mean right on it, like the gardens in the back abut the water. The food is American, with rabbit on the dinner menu, the decor is early hunting lodge and the service is incredible. And for the first time since I started going I saw a waiter the same color as me. Astonishing. Great guy, his wife is studying for the bar, his kid looks like a future little heart breaker.

I digress. Back to the story/restaurant review.

Shade calls me last week and makes sure I have the date free for brunch and lets me know that she'll be bringing a male friend, which to me means I'm off the hook for a gift and paying for her meal. I'm guessing she said that as it's usually me and her that go to Canoe, even when it's a group, and I'm not sure if she was clearing the decks or she just wants to make sure there were no misunderstandings. Right. So I'm paying for just one? Cool.

So we meet up at 2-ish and get an outside table. There are six of us and three have never been, so I know they're in for a treat. Before I could ask if Scoop was coming, Shade explained that Scoop and her were mad at each other again - again - and when last they'd spoke Scoop was leaving church to go spend some time with her husband. I didn't ask for an elaboration or what that was code for.

I'm going say now, possibly the one bad thing about Canoe, for the first time I've ever gone we had a small flying bug issue. Never had one before and Shade and I have eaten outside numerous times so I'm not sure what was going on. It wasn't that bad at first but it became an issue later. They may want to invest in some of those citronella candles or something.

Appetizers are the arugula salad with a citrus thing going on, and the she crab soup, along with some sticky buns sprinkled with nuts. They looked so good, somebody is going to be cursing me on her elliptical on Wednesday. It was still brunch - we'd made the last sitting - and so we split the table with orders both lunchy and breakfasty. Two orders of the roast chicken, someone got the salmon, Shade got the shrimp and grits, one eggs Benedict and the always popular always tasty extra good waffle house upgrade redux for us un-imaginative eaters i.e, me - the Riverside: eggs, bacon, hash browns and french bread topped with fresh fruit. See, something for everyone.

Them eggs Benedict.

The three new folks raved about the food, as though they were surprised. I wondered if they thought we were going to take them someplace bad? Have they met Shade? Do they know the girl loves food?

Now this is a long slow restaurant review not only because my dining party was considerably larger than the usual twosome but also because we arrived at 2-ish and when we left we nearly met the dinner crowd walking in at 5:30. We were there that long.

It was a lively group, everyone at the table is theoretically single. I know this because one of the young ladies let us know she was hosting a function the next night at the Grape in Inman Park just for singles, and everybody said they were coming. I say theoretical, because I'm also fairly certain that Shade's companion might have been hoping for a different ruling. So the conversation veered between single life in regards to all the usual topics that make up polite dinner conversation when you really want to be talking about ...."benefits", yeah, that's the term.

We got a bottle of the Cava and toasted Shade's graduation. We were reminded that if you don't look people in the eye during a toast then it's seven years bad sex...then everybody toasted again, except the guy on the end who claimed he wasn't interested "benefits." At all, with anyone. He'd just gotten divorced and that wasn't what he wanted, though he apparently had offers. Insistent offers. Cheeky bugger.

And as we kept talking, the dessert came. Or rather desserts. We ended up with every dessert they had. The chocolate cake looking souffle was awesome. The creme brulee a wonder. They had something in a pineapple glaze, a peanut buttery something, more something else. Somebody adored the sorbet. I'll have you know that I couldn't eat after this meal, my day was shot, I had to go home and lie down. So that's a good indicator.

Shade and her Congrats Chocolate was good though.

Now at this point, it's us and the people who work at the restaurant getting ready for the dinner seatings. I know they had to be mad at us. Probably thinking: Geez, don't these people have homes? I think even the bugs were ready for us to leave at this point. And even after we finished, there were still the obligatory pictures in the garden. Thank god the only thing on TV is baseball. I had planned anything else that day it would have been a travesty.

I guess you can call this review biased (it is) because I really like Canoe as a special occasion spot. I'd suggest it to anyone who asked, although as of late the clientèle has gotten kind of casual - shorts and sandals. The food is still good and the service is still excellent despite this lax of customer mores, and when you toss in an after dinner stroll through the small but very beautiful garden, it's a place all it's own. That, and the sweet tea was great!

Barkeep...more sweet tea!

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