If there was a support group for people with food obsessions, I would have to join. (I might even be elected president.) I don't like to admit this, but I like to search online menus of restaurants that I dream of dining at as if I was about to order a meal. I put together fictitious meals with appetizers, entrees and desserts that I would enjoy at each restaurant. (I know this behavior is bordering on compulsive - hense the support group.) I was recently looking through the menu at Canoe and I put together my dream menu of cauliflower soup, duck n'beef burger and chocolate grotto for dessert. Little did I know at the time that I was actually going to get the opportunity to go to Canoe and sample this amazing menu for myself. I submitted a proposal to dine at Canoe to Foodbuzz for the 24 x 24 blog event and I was accepted! I actually got to go to Canoe - and Foodbuzz picked up the bill! (I love being a food blogger.)
The first thing that I did after I found out that my proposal had been accepted was to make a reservation. Dinner for 4 at 6:45 on Saturday night - check. (Yippee!) The next thing on my list was to gather up my dining partners/dates for the evening. My husband, of course, was first on the list because lets face it, he's the love of my life and he's used to me photographing all of his meals.
I'll admit that it was a bit tougher to select two other dinner companions because not everyone is comfortable with someone hovering over their food with a camera before they even begin to eat. (Go figure.) It tends to make for some very awkward moments unless everyone is on board with my food blogging. I decided to ask our good friends Alan and Julie to join us for this awesome food adventure. They were just as excited about Canoe as I was. (I'm so thankful for foodie friends.)
Our Canoe adventure started with pictures in the front yard.
We arrived at the restaurant a few minutes late because we experienced a few navigational issues. From the very first moment that I stepped inside the warm and inviting restaurant, I realized that this place truly exemplifies "rustic charm." The atmosphere inside Canoe is a perfect balance of comfort and elegance. It features an open kitchen and a ceiling that is crafted to look like the inside of a canoe! (I've never seen anything like it.)
The landscape outside Canoe is equally as impressive. Tucked alongside the banks of the Chattahoochee River, Canoe is everything that I had imagined it to be - and more.
There are small, intimate seating areas hidden throughout the gardens for guests to enjoy. The atmosphere outside the restaurant is very peaceful and serene.
Tables set with crisp white linen tablecloths, fine china and crystal glasses dot the landscape.
Perched right alongside the riverbank, there is a bar where guests can sit and watch the kayaks and canoes navigate their way down the Chattahoochee while enjoying a cocktail.
Canoe has 2 beautiful outdoor tents to host special events. (Makes me want to get married again - at Canoe!)
The landscape at Canoe is breathtaking but we were there not only to enjoy the fabulous setting but also the food! We were seated at a table on the covered patio with a perfect view of the river and the gardens.
I had studied the online menu and I was fairly confident that I knew what I wanted to order from this seasonally fresh menu before I even sat down. All that changed when I got to the table and the hostess put the menu in my hand. There were so many inspiring menu options that I could hardly stand the thought of just tasting one. Luckily, my dining partners felt the same way so we decided to each choose different things from the menu and share. (Gotta love friends who don't mind sharing their food.)
We started by ordering 4 different appetizers that would be served in two separate courses. While we waited for our first course to arrive, Julie and I decided to explore more of the beautiful gardens. While we were trying to identify some of the flowers, Julie spotted a small stone path so of course - we followed it. Little did we know that it would lead us to Chef Carvel's organic herb garden.
They grow everything from fresh herbs to vegetables and fruit.
A long picnic table, an over sized swing and some rustic furniture invite guest to linger in the peaceful garden.
After our walk through the garden, we headed back to the table for wine and appetizers.
We started with a smoked salmon appetizer from the menu and a mussel appetizer that was not on the menu but was a special for the evening.
The smoked salmon was served on a crispy potato cake and layered with goat cheese. It was outstanding - my favorite of all the appetizers.
The mussels were served in a "cream" sauce made from pureed vegetables and served with crisp toast. The mussels were tender and flavorful and perfectly cooked.
Our second round of appetizers included a lump crab cake and shrimp stuffed calamari.
We cut the crab cake into quarters so we could each have a sample along with the cabbage slaw. It was delicious. Lots of crab meat and not much else - just the way I like it.
The shrimp stuffed calamari with chorizo sausage was an appetizer that both Julie and I had picked out from the online menu. We even talked about it in the car on the way to the restaurant because it's something that neither one of us had ever heard of before. I don't quite know how to describe the flavor other than it was like a tiny little seafood treat. The shrimp had picked up the flavor of the Spanish chorizo sausage and it paired beautifully with the tender calamari.
An hour and a half after we arrived at Canoe, we had finished with both of our appetizer courses. We sipped on some more wine as we ordered our entrees.
I ordered the lemon sole with broken tartar sauce.
My fish was served boned at the table by a very skilled waitress. (No pressure - Never mind the fact that I was taking pictures of the entire process.) The picture above is what the fish looked like after she had taken the bones out and put it back together. Nicely done, Hope.
I order fish at restaurants a lot and this was by far the best fish that I have ever had. It was moist and flaky and really delicious. It was so big that I couldn't even finish it so I saved half and brought it home. (I was really just trying to save room for dessert.)
Ben ordered the slow roasted Carolina rabbit. I was shocked - I was almost positive that he was going to order the beef tenderloin special. (18 years of marriage and he still surprises me.)
The rabbit was just as good as it looks in the picture. (Yes, I really did sample every meal that was ordered.) The rabbit was served with bacon ravioli which was just as spectacular as the duck. The salty bacon was complimented nicely by a slightly sweet, homemade ravioli dough. Exquisite.
Julie ordered something that wasn't on the menu. She opted for the red grouper special served over couscous.
The grouper was delicate and delicious. She was a little unsure about ordering couscous but in the end, she said that she really enjoyed it.
Alan chose the sage roasted pheasant as his entree.
When I saw his plate, I thought that he had been served crab cakes alongside his pheasant. To my surprise, the crispy croquettes were made from the dark pheasant meat. (A genius idea.) The pheasant had a nice subtle flavor. It was fantastic.
We were all perfectly satisfied with our meals but we were not about to leave without sampling some of the decadent desserts. There were 8 desserts listed on the menu and 1 special dessert. After MUCH deliberation, we finally managed to narrow it down and we ordered 4 desserts.
Ben had the peach tart that was the special. (This one may have been my favorite.) Topped with Chantilly cream, this homemade pie crust was layered with fresh Georgia peaches and it was fantastic! (I need to learn how to make these.)
Alan ordered the signature Canoe dessert which was the popcorn ice cream sundae with homemade cracker jack.
I listened carefully as our waitress described the process that the chef uses to infuse the popcorn flavor into the ice cream because this dessert definitely peaked my interest.
It was really good. The crunchy, home made cracker jack was the perfect compliment to this buttery dessert.
I decided to sample the "Carvel" mint chocolate ice cream cake. It was named for executive chef at Canoe, Chef Carvel, and not the famous ice cream shop. When our waitress (April) informed us that the chocolate mint we had seen growing in the garden is used to make this chocolate mint ice cream - I was sold.
Being a self proclaimed connoisseur of mint chocolate ice cream, I thought that this ranked right up at the top of the list. I'm really opposed to the artificial mint flavor that is often added to ice cream and this one had a nice, delicate pure mint flavor. The crunchy ladyfinger on top of the cake was a nice addition to this light, refreshing after dinner treat.
Julie had decided on another dessert but when she heard the waitress describing the chocolate grotto - there was no turning back. A hard chocolate shell surrounding a creamy salted caramel filling and sprinkled with pretzel dust - oh yea.
When she cracked open the grotto - the salted caramel filling came oozing out. It was fantastic. She divided her grotto into fourths so we could all try it. (Now that's true friendship.)
I enjoyed my dessert with a cup of decaf coffee and we were having such a good time that we sat talking for quite a while longer.
When we finally did get up to leave, Julie and I decided to take the guys through the garden, even though it was dark. We followed the stone footpath lighted by tiny garden lights, back to the garden area where we took some final pictures.
I could not imagine a more perfect evening. Sitting outside amongst the beautiful gardens, overlooking the windy river on a warm night in May while enjoying a fabulous meal - heavenly. Thank you Foodbuzz for making my Canoe dream come true!
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