Restaurant Review: Candela Lounge

>> Tuesday, September 4, 2012


There has been a lot of construction around the mission area this summer., which has made it a bit difficult to maneuver around. However the construction is well worth it because with it brings news condo developments, upgraded roads and new eateries to a quickly expanding area. One of those restaurants being Candela Lounge. Opened by the owners of the highly successful Alloy Restaurant, Candela features international cuisine, where each dish takes a unique spin with fusion style perfect for this area of town.

Atmosphere: Moroccan inspired setting showcasing a large open bar in the middle of a cozy dining room.

Price Range: up to mid $10s

Food and Wine: I was lucky enough to have been asked to join them on a special media night to sample their amazing food and drinks. I was so excited to tell everybody about this new restaurant that I am actually blogging while on vacation - but how could I wait to share this amazing info?!


At the event we were presented with various hand selected dishes off the menu so we'd get a good understanding of the varieties of food featured at the restaurant. Based on a tapas style concept, their menu is broken down in to six categories, each representing a certain style of cooking or course. Here's a quick summary of each as laid out on the menu (although I could probably go on all day about certain items):

Ceviche
The first ceviche I sampled was the Tuna served with tomato, watermelon and lime. I really enjoyed the contrasting sweetness of the watermelon and the citrusy tomatoes, neither overpowering the delicate tuna. The second ceviche that night was the Scallop with avocado, jalapeño, cilantro and tomatillo. They're definitely more traditional Latin flavours.


Grilled
The Swordfish had the perfect amount of charred flavour from the grill and was accompanied by salsa verde and caper berries, both adding different forms of acid to the dish. The Flank steak with an Argentinian flare consisted of chimichurri sauce and a creamy mayo to provide the much needed fat and creaminess to the lean steak. The meat itself was grilled a medium rare and only lightly seasoned so it didn't overpower the freshness of the ingredients.

Baked, braised, sautéed
One of the crowd favourites that evening would have had to be the Chicharron. You can't go wrong with this crispy pork belly served with edamame beans and sweet quince. A perfect bite in all regards. The Albondigas which were lamb and pork meatballs were a close second for many foodies, with machego cheese and a sweet tomato sauce. You can definitely taste the gamey lamb but the pork helped to mellow out the flavours and made the meatball more succulent. The last dish from this group was the Striped Bass with a Middle Eastern influence of saffron and israeli couscous. The bass was melt in your mouth flaky, while the couscous gave the dish the needed texture with just slight hints of saffron, which when overused can overwhelm the palate, but not in this case at all.


Vegetables
The Bok Choy was showcased from this category. It was served Asian style with soy, sesame, ginger and topped with a spicyThai chili. For those that are sensitive to spicy, be sure to remove the chili peppers! However, I preferred it with a spicy kick upping the usual soy sauce thats served at your local Chinese joint.

Snacks
For those looking for just something to nibble on there is the quintessential Cheese & Meat Board featuring iberico ham which can be seen displayed through the kitchen window in the private dining room. Very famous in Spain and other Spanish influenced countries, it's perfect with a great glass of wine! For vegetarians there is the Tunisian Carrot Hummus. A spin on the traditional chickpea hummus. The carrot makes it sweeter and forms a less dense dip.


Dulce
For those that don't have much of a sweet tooth the Yuzu Yogurt is for you. With roasted rhubarb over lightly tart yogurt and a ginger biscuit. It has just enough sweetness to round out the dinner, plus it's also a healthier option! For those looking for not only sweet but decadent, the Brownie is a perfect fit. It was so soft and moist that we couldn't even pick it up on the skewers and just had to dig in. Normally served with a pistachio gelato and creme anglaise, I can already imagine how the nuttiness of the pistachio would enhance the cocoa flavours.

Candela also features a special cocktail menu created by the owners themselves with drinks like the coconut Pura Vida and a rum based Cherry Sour. They also have a great selection of wine for those looking to pair their tapas with a bit of vino.


My Picks: Tuna Ceviche, Chicharron, Striped Bass

Overall: I am extremely glad that Candela decided to open on 4th. It's definitely going to be bringing a new vibe to the Mission area which is long overdue. The amazing food is really just a bonus to a great looking restaurant with the perfect atmosphere. Construction sometimes isn't all so bad!


Candela Lounge 
1919 4th Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 719-0049
Website: www.candelalounge.com

Candela Lounge on Urbanspoon

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