I'd been dying to try Ox and Angela for quite some time - maybe I just liked the name - but the quaint, white, house-like building and promise of Spanish tapas-style food always intrigued me. I went with a friend for lunch around 2pm on a weekday. Surprisingly (for downtown Calgary), they were open, and surprisingly again, there were several other diners inside. I've heard a few complaints about the decor, calling the plastic chairs cheap and cheesy, but to honest I found them part of the appeal. The whole place is very quaint and has something beautiful about it - the decor features bold blacks, reds and whites against a rustic backdrop - it looks almost thrown together, but in a very methodical and organized way.
The food was truly fantastic - unique and different - but fantastic. We ordered many small dishes, to try everything, and the style of service is to bring the items to the table as they are ready, which I love! We started with the Cheese dish - an aged manchego with pomegranate molasses - what a combination! Really beautiful. We also ordered the Pan Con Tomatate - grilled sourdoug with fresh tomato, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. It was a very simple dish, but simplicity is wonderful when done right, and it was certainly done right. We also had an order of the chorizo, cooked in sherry with tomato and garlic. The main dish was a plate of scallops, with fresh peas, mint, cherry tomato and crispy serrano ham. It was a very unique combination of items that worked magic when put together.
I also fell in love with the wine list. It featured a very unique range of Spanish wines, including a lovely selection of Spanish sparklings. The cocktail list was inspired and followed the theme of the restaurant - I had the Rio Fogo, made with Cachaca, passionfruit and fresh chili over crushed ice.
My only complaint was the service - it was chilly and lacked warmth and passion for the fabulous offerings being places on the table. It could be a real gem of a restaurant if the staff
were hospitable and took time to describe the menu with some degree of excitement.
The best part about Ox and Angela is that it knows what it is! While some restaurants suffer from an identity crisis and try to be all things to all people, Ox and Angela stays true to the central theme. Everything on the menu, from wine to cocktails, to tapas to entrees, compliments each other.
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