Can­dela brings the true ta­pas

Small-plate menu is the spe­cialty of this airy and cosy es­tab­lish­ment

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life -

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.

Colleen De Neve/cal­gary Her­ald

Can­dela co-owner Uri Hei­lik, left, and chef co-owner Rogelio Her­rera have moved to a more con­ven­tional lo­ca­tion with their new res­tau­rant.

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