After decades as one of Fort Lauderdale's favorite restaurants, Canyon moved from its distinctive location on Sunrise Blvd. to a larger space on Federal, just south of the Kinney Tunnel. It still serves unique American artisanal cuisine with Asian, South and Central American undertones, in an intimate space with an upscale atmosphere. My husband and I decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal for our 29th wedding anniversary. Being off-season, it was easy to get a reservation, even on a Saturday night. We arrived right on time and were greeted with friendly smiles and wishes for a happy anniversary (the reservation form asks if it is a special occasion) and were promptly shown to the worst table in the restaurant (a tiny two-top against a post next to the kitchen and bus station). I asked for a better table, and we were seated near a window along the comfortable banquette.
We settled in and perused the menu and we both remarked at the same time what a hetero crowd it was. We’re so used to dining in and around Wilton Manors that it was kind of a shock to realize that we were probably the only table with gay people. Not that anyone made us feel out of place, our waiter Victor wished us a happy anniversary and asked how many years we’d been together. He was impressed and surprised by the number – don’t know if that meant that we didn’t look that old, we looked old, or he just didn’t know that many long-term gay couples. But he was attentive and helpful as could be. He even managed to find a glass of wine that I wanted when he was told it was sold out. He checked with the bar, and they had enough left for a generous pour in my glass.
We began by splitting an appetizer, one of the day’s specials, lobster nachos. OMG, was it delicious, and well worth the $25 tab. It featured lobster salad (like what you’d get in a lobster roll) with at least a full lobster’s worth of meat, piled high on eight tortilla chips. If I had one complaint, I would ask for more chips with a little less lobster on each. It was too much for one bite but fell apart if you tried to take it in two. We also split the roasted pear salad, a refreshing mélange of tender fruit, arugula, and blue cheese. The large bowl could have served as a light entrée. Even splitting it, we still took half of it home.
By the time our entrees arrived, I was not hungry any longer, but my short rib rigatoni smelled and looked so good I did manage a few bites. The perfectly cooked tubes of pasta perfectly held the piquant green chili and cabernet ragu. The large bowl was filled with big chunks of tender short rib, cremini mushrooms, and topped with shaved manchego cheese. It was soul-satisfying, the kind of dish that feels like it took all day to prepare. I took most of it home and it made a terrific dinner the next night. My husband passed up his usual favorite, salmon, and instead opted for the seared tuna, served perfectly rare with a nice sear on the outside. The tuna was good but what sent him over the moon was the wasabi boniato mash, lighter than mashed potatoes, but just as satisfying. A cucumber-pear slaw in a cilantro-ginger vinaigrette added to the freshness of the dish. This meal was comfort food at its best.
Although we were both satisfied, since it was a celebration, we split the cinnamon-apple churros, the lightest of the desserts. Perfectly fluffy and crunchy pastry sticks tossed in cinnamon sugar and topped with diced caramelized apples. The dish was brought to the table by Victor with a sparkler, and the staff singing “Happy Anniversary” and we got a round of applause from the other diners.
The only thing that kept this from being a perfect evening was something beyond the restaurant’s control: a table of drunken women who whooped and talked too loudly, and a screaming toddler.
620 S. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale