Bob McPhail 12:30 p.m., April 26
A Room with a View and Cocktails, Too: Candelas Coronado
It's the last official day of the holiday season, and what better way to show it out than with cocktails and a view. It seems that everyone feels more generous this time of year.
Candelas Coronado, at 1201 First Street, Coronado Ferry Landing, has a daily happy hour (4 pm - 6 pm and 10 pm - midnight) that's tough to beat. In the bar area, they serve half-priced drinks, any drink, and half-priced select menu items. As a bonus, they throw in a million dollar view.
Bombay martini ($4.50 @hh), Coronado Brewing Company IPA ($3 @hh), view (free, all night).
The setting is so beautiful, so romantic, that we keep getting distracted from the menu. Finally, we settle on a bowl of Crema de Cuatro Quesos al Chile Pasilla ($4.50 @hh), Ensalada de Palmitos ($4.25 @hh), and Tacos Dorados ($7 @hh).
Everything arrives quickly, and our server suggests that next time we ask to split the soup, explaining that for the $1 split surcharge, we'll get a lot more for our money. Nice, I like saving money.
I like the soup, too, I like it a lot. It's rich with blue, mozzarella, parmesan and cream cheeses, well seasoned, served over a dollop of ever-so-slightly chunky, soft mashed potatoes, with a smallish prawn and a fried shredded sweet potato garnish. The soup is decadent and smooth. It's delightful to scoop up bits of the mashed potato with it and let it meld together, the potato further enriching the liquid. The prawn is perfectly cooked, tender, plump and sweet and the sweet potato garnish provided good textural contrast. Next time, I'm getting my own bowl.
It's difficult for me to get excited about salads, I've eaten so many bad Chinese chicken salads during business meetings (why do they always assume that the women want salads?). The Ensalada de Palmitos makes me rethink my prejudice. Even though it has the dreaded winter tomatoes on it, they are saved by a quick sauté in olive oil and garlic, which manages to draw out their flavor, as it does with the mushrooms and hearts of palm. It's dressed with a light, tasty artichoke vinaigrette. Substantial and yummy.
Barbacoa is the cooking technique from which the word barbecue is derived, in Mexico today it generally refers to slow cooking over a over an open fire, or in a pit lined with maguey leaves. I'm guessing that Candelas employs the first method. These tacos are filled with barbacoa sheep, deep fried and garnished with crema and cotija cheese. If I were to quibble, I'd have to say that the meat/tortilla ratio was a bit lopsided on a couple of them, but they were juicy and savory, and nicely crispy. On the side was good guacamole, mild red chile sauce, a dry hockey puck of refried beans and some overcooked green rice. A couple of minor missteps that I was willing to overlook.
All told, our bill for two cocktails and three substantial dishes came to $23.25 before tax and tip. Beautiful, indeed.
1201 First Street, at Coronado Ferry Landing
Coronado, CA 92118
Lunch - Monday - Friday - 11 am - 4 pm
Dinner - Sunday - Thursday - 5 pm - 10:30 pm, Friday and Saturday - 5 pm - 11 pm
Brunch Sunday - 8 am - 4 pm
Happy Hour daily - 4 pm - 6 pm and 10 pm - closing. Bar area only.
Parking lot on site (free).