Candela brings the true tapas
Small-plate menu is the specialty of this airy and cosy establishment
angular room, lit by an immense skylight over a central tapas bar.
Candela’s food concept is what the owners call global small plates. But the opening menu of ceviche, paella, papas brava, calamari and chicharron reads as close to a traditional tapas bar as we’ve seen around these parts. (As a plus, many of them are under $10 with the most expensive a scallop-avocado ceviche at $14.)
Candela has also adopted the look of a tapas bar with a foot rail wrapped around the bar and no seats. So customers are invited to stand at the bar to enjoy a beverage and a tapa or two. (There are 85 seats in the room as well for those who prefer to sit.) A special bar menu will be available to only those standing in this area. The bar itself has been coated in a zinc-coloured paint and epoxy so it should be impervious to any damage.
The entry is marked by a latticework divider that reflects design elements of Alloy and the floors are covered in Moroccan concrete tiles painted green, black and white. The room is lit by Moroccan lamps and old-style, studdedleather captains chairs surround oak-topped tables in one area. A large, sparkling-new kitchen fills one end with a viewing window off a private dining area. It all comes together to create a sense of airiness and cosiness at the same time. And it’s a little more on the beaten path for those not shopping at Timber Town.
Contrary to popular belief, sports bars are not required to have mediocre food. We’ve just come to expect it that way. So when Mike Skarbo took over the kitchen at Flames Central at 219 Stephen Avenue S.W. (403-9352637), he thought he’d do the unexpected. Using his experience with Hotel Arts, he decided that everything should be made inhouse with high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. So, in came seared albacore tuna salads and house-made chicken pot pie, a roasted red pepper, asparagus and feta flatbread and red velvet cake. Sure, you can still get chicken wings by the pound — in eight flavours — and a whiskybarbecue-bacon burger, but you can balance that off with a salad of hand-picked artisan greens. And with most menu items under $15, the new Flames Central approach to food should become very attractive to the downtown lunch crowd.
As if Skarbo isn’t busy enough running the huge kitchen at Flames Central, he’s also in charge of the 4th Annual Rocky Moun- tain Oyster Festival coming up on Sept. 10 at the National Beer Hall. Over two dozen competitors will be shucking their best to see who this year’s champion will be. The winner will receive a trophy, $500 and a trip to Charlottetown to compete in the PEI International Shellfish Festival Sept. 13-16.
Oyster shucking is a timed event with penalties given for broken shells, torn or cut oyster meat, oysters not being severed from the shell, oysters being presented out of the shell, presence of grit, mud or anything untoward on the oyster and for blood in the shell. (That’s the competitors blood, not the oysters.) The fastest, cleanest shucker to present a dozen perfect oysters is the winner.
Tickets for the Oyster Festival are $100 for a table of four which includes two oysters plus a beer or cocktail per person and are available at the National Beer Hall (403-229-0226). Standing room tickets are $10 at Prime Box Office and at the door from 4 p.m. on the evening of the event.
2 oz Bodacious Black Currant Melomel (Chinook Arch Meadery meads are available in Calgary at Inglewood Wine Market, Willow Park Wines & Spirits’ Willow Park location, and Highlander on 16 Ave. N., or visit the Chinook Honey Company in Okotoks)
1/2 oz rum
1/2 oz Amaretto
2 oz orange juice
Build over ice in a tall glass and garnish with a cherry.
2 oz Ginger Snapped Metheglin
1 part limeade (or lemonade)
Build over ice in a rocks glass and garnish with a lime or lemon wedge.
Candela co-owner Uri Heilik, left, and chef co-owner Rogelio Herrera have moved to a more conventional location with their new restaurant.