Myself along with probably (at least) a few thousand other Calgarians have been eagerly anticipating the opening of Ox And Angela.
Prior to it’s opening in mid-August I had been walking by, perhaps too often, to check on the progress. When renos appeared to be nearing completition my friends and I were, essentially, clawing at the door. Mild exaggeration, but, needless to say, we were excited.
Located about one block south of it’s sister restaurant, the 17th Ave hot spot, Una, the establishment took up residence in the old Bungalow building once it (finally) closed it doors in the spring.
Ox exudes a sort of sexy Latin American kind of feel. The white exterior is bright and inviting. Once you walk through the doors you’ll have a sort of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ decision on your hands (except neither choice will end badly, I promise). To your left, there’s ‘Angela‘, the dining room, and to your right, the lounge, ‘Ox‘, is waiting for you. You can actually take a seat with Ox if you wish, who takes shape as a metal sculture in the front corner of the lounge. He won’t bite. Wait, do bulls bite? I digress…
As I sat in the lounge, waiting for my friends to arrive, I tried out one of their signature cocktails, of which they have many. As it was my first time here, ‘The Ox’ cocktail seemed like a good option. It was a combination of Guatamelan rum, white grapes, bitters infused sugar, garnished with some green apple slices.
The majority of the drink menu consists of pre-prohibition style cocktails, all of which pack an appropriate punch. Who likes a watered down drink anyway, right?
Their play on masculine/feminine is also seen within this menu which splits the drinks to ‘Ox’ on the left page and ‘Angela’ on the right. Gentleman, don’t feel insecure about ordering from the latter, as their Ox and Angela Collins is fantastic. (pictured below)
Once my friends arrived, we decided to move over to the dining room. Only small plates are offered in the lounge and seeing as it was dinner time, we were in the mood to have a nice sit-down meal. The warm atmosphere of the restaurant definitely encourages sharing food amoung the table, so we decided to order an array of appetizers and mains to go around.
It’s kind of a shame we couldn’t order/eat everything. I rarely say this about a restaurant, but almost every singe offering sounded absolutely delicious. Our table actually debated for about fifteen minutes about which dishes we would opt for. At some points, it came down to a vote. Seriously. Oh well, that just means we’ll have to go back again, and again.
The first few dishes that came to the table were Proveleta (fried provolone with fresh oregano and pickled tomatoes), Taco (citrus poached monkfish soft tacos), and Pulpo (spice-rubbed octopus with grilled watermelon and shaved radish).
The fried provolone was nice and crisp on the outside, not too oily, and the pickled tomatoes added a nice zing to the dish. It was my friend Mealan’s favourite appetizer. We probably should of ordered two…
The monkfish tacos had some great flavour to them. The tomatillo salsa had some heat to it, which I welcomed. The flour tortillas were grilled prior to filling and had a nice char on them. The poached lobster sat on top of curtido, a sort of cabbage ‘relish’, which was made in-house. We had dug into the cheese and octopus dishes prior to the tacos, leaving them a bit soggy, so if you’re going to order them with other appetizers, I’d say eat these little guys first.
The spice-rubbed octopus was my personal favourite out of this round. I love octopus, but hate when it’s over-cooked and chewy. Here it was cooked perfectly, nice and meaty. The grilled watermelon was added a nice, fresh and slightly sweet compliment to the seafood. The spice rub could of been a bit more pronounced, but overall, I loved the dish. It just embodied summer to me.
Moving on to our main dishes, the table decided on Camarones (giant prawns, serrano ham, mango salsa), Chorizo (house made, stewed peppers) and Bistec (20 oz ribeye with chimichurri). For sides, we went for their Patatas Fritas (smashed lemon rosemary baby potatoes), Masa (citrus buttered grilled corn) and Polenta (corn, oregano, pickled tomato).
These were easily the largest shrimp I have seen thus far in my life. Wrapped in serrano ham, the two giants sat on top a bed of sweet mango salsa.
The chorizo, made in-house, had a nice texture, but was lacking the kick I’ve come to love in this type of sausage. Luckily, the stewed peppers added an extra level of flavour.
I’m hopelessly devoted to a solid chimichurri sauce and this particular one rocked. Needless to say, this 20 oz ‘cowboy’ steak was huge and cooked to a nice medium-rare. Definitely the table favourite out of the mains.
We were all surprised by how good the grilled corn was. I know most people enjoy corn on the cob, but it is rarely a stand-out at a dinner, let alone a restaurant. The citrus butter definitely elevated it to a delicious level. We fought over the last piece.
The polenta was nice and tender. Polenta seems to be a love it or hate it kind of a dish, so if you enjoy it, then go for it.
Then came the desserts…We samplied their creme brulee, house-made churros (which always make me think of going to Disneyland as a kid), and the dulche de leche (crisp pastries with a sweet milk sauce, similar to caramel, dusted with icing sugar, pictured).
To go along with the trio of sweets, we also ordered a few dessert cocktails. Above is a vanilla espresso martini. We were instructed to sip the martini, then move onto the shooter of simple syrup, followed by the shortbread cookie. Sip, sip, bite. I could get used to that.
Burnt cognac with fruit skewers also graced the table. Similar concept to the martini above. Sip, bite, sip bite. The warm cognac was so aromatic, I felt like a true gentleman sipping it in our corner table. Now, where’s my cigar?
Ox And Angela opens daily at 5 p.m. ‘Angela‘ is happy to serve you the full menu on the restaurant side until 11 p.m. (as well as takes reservations!) while ‘Ox‘ dishes out small plates and drinks until the wee hours of the night, 2 a.m. to be exact. Also good to note, the romantic Latin-inspired atmosphere inside makes this establishment an ideal date destination (call me). If our experience was any indication, I’d say co-owners Jayme MacFayden, Kelly Black and Stephen Smee (also the executive chef) have got another hit on their hands.
7 Comments to “The Ox Rocks: Supper At Ox And Angela”
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