The Big Taste @ Ox & Angela
Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
While most restaurants participating in The Big Taste offered simple prix-fixe menus with maybe one or two options, Ox & Angela went all out, offering multiple dishes per course – no decisions needed! B. and I dropped by on the last day of the festival for Sunday brunch, so we got a few breakfast items as well.
Although Ox & Angela has only been around for a couple of years, I’ve only been there once (and I haven’t been to its sister restaurant, Una, either – I know, right?) The one time I was at Ox, we were just meeting a bunch of chefs after the Candela media/industry preview party, so I didn’t really eat very much and didn’t really know what I was eating. The Big Taste menu was the perfect opportunity to catch up on what I’d been missing.
I was quite impressed by the service we received at Ox & Angela – the servers were friendly, prompt and professional; they hung up my jacket for me and seemed to know the menu quite well.
The $25-per-person brunch was split into two courses. For the first course, we started with Fritters, Tortilla de Espana and Ensalada.
The Fritters were made of Cod and Potato, served with creamy, garlicky aioli.
We were expecting a crab cake-like texture, so were surprised to find that the centres were softer and mushier. B. didn’t really like these, but I liked them… especially with the aioli.
Unlike the Mexican flatbread, a Spanish tortilla is essentially a potato omelette. In Ox & Angela’s version, the potatoes are layered carefully and the egg mixture is dotted with red peppers. Thick wedges of the omelette are served with a dollop of aioli and sprinkling of green onion and paprika.
I really liked the soft texture of this – the thick egg reminded me of the Japanese omelettes that they use in sushi, except without the sweetness. Unfortunately B. and I were a little slow in getting to this dish and it was cold by the time we ate it.
The Ensalada was a small fresh salad with baby gem lettuce, green apple, sherry vinegar, shaved manchego cheese and toasted walnuts.
The Ensalada was probably my least favourite dish of the first course. While I liked the crisp texture of the lettuce and green apple, the salad was quite tart; even the apple didn’t provide enough sweetness to act as a foil. I think I would’ve liked it more if the walnuts were candied, or if there was some other sweet ingredient in the salad.
Our second course had two regular menu items, Kale and Patatas Bravas, and two breakfast items, Pancakes and Eggs Benedict.
“Kale” was a wilted purple kale salad with fried breadcrumbs and Turkish olives.
B. and I definitely preferred this salad over the Ensalada. The kale still had a touch of crispness and they weren’t overly dressed, so still had their distinct bittersweet flavour. They must’ve known that I don’t like olives as there were only four in the dish. :P
Patatas Bravas are a traditional Spanish tapas dish. In this case, the fried potatoes were dressed in a smoked paprika ketchup and served with some more aioli.
The potatoes had soaked in all the smoked paprika ketchup, so the dish wasn’t very saucy and was full of smoky, sweet and tart flavour. While it was mostly big chunks of potato, there were also these little nubbins that were charred and crisp. Yum.
For our breakfast items, we started with the Chocolate Chip Pancakes (“Tortitas”) drenched in Dulce de Leche and topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a tiny mint leaf.
The pancakes unfortunately were not as good as they sounded. They were soggy and the chocolate chips were few and far in between.
Fortunately, they were redeemed by the excellent Eggs Benedict with Blood Orange Hollandaise.
The Hollandaise sauce was rich and creamy, and flecked with blood orange zest. The thin, salty serrano ham contrasted nicely with the slightly citrusy sauce.
I loved trying all these little bites and can’t wait to go back to try more. I would definitely be in for going there for brunch again – although parking on/around 17th can sometimes be a nightmare, the fact that there’s no lineup (yet) makes it worth it!
Ox & Angela
528 17 Ave SW
Calgary AB T2S 0A9
Open Sun-Thu 11:30 AM-Midnight; Fri-Sat 11:30 AM-2 AM.