Canela Bistro & Wine Bar
Review by Alex Terwilliger
Contact InfoAddress: 2272 Market St. (Map) Neighborhood: Duboce Traingle, Castro Cuisine: Spanish, Tapas Website: canelasf.com Phone: (415) 552-3000 Price: $$
So here's what we think...
Canela Bistro is a seductive little spot located right on Market St. that is serving some creatively unique Spanish food. You might have walked by its front door and not even known it was there, but what's inside has all the hallmarks of a go-to tapas restaurant: a solid tortilla espanol, a cozy and intimate setting, and delicious Spanish wines. What's GF is listed right on the menu, and luckily for you, the selection is plentiful ...
Spanish tortillas, although a classic dish, are not all created equally. I like to think you can assess a tapas bar by the quality of it's tortilla, and in the case of Canela, they pass the tortilla test with flying colors. Theirs is served with paprika and caper sour cream which is deliciously smoky and the perfect compliment to the warm fluffy potato and egg. Another item I recommend starting with is the fresh strawberry & almond gazpacho. This was probably the most interesting thing I tasted, and very different from your traditional gazpacho. The sweetness of the strawberry flavor is offset by the addition of sherry vinegar and a kick of garlic (order without croutons to make it GF). Next we had the GF grilled coca, a flatbread made specifically for us GF clientele. This flatbread is made on the grill, where no items containing gluten touch, so it's completely safe from cross contamination. Topped with Spanish goats cheese, feta, pickled turnips, asparagus, apples and arugula, this is an absolute MUST order item. The pile of fresh arugula on top makes it almost like a salad, but all the melted cheesy goodness on the bottom is pure indulgence. Chef Mat informed us that there will continue to be a GF flatbread on the menu at all times, but the toppings will change seasonally. For seafood dishes we shared the gambas al pimenton (seared shrimp with smoked Spanish paprika, garlic, dry sherry, lemon and butter), and the arroz negro caldoso del mar (sea bass, shrimp, and calamari served with black rice, cantimpalito pork sausage, mushrooms, carrot top salsa verde, shisho and aioli). The former, more or less a traditional Spanish dish, was packed with flavor and cooked to perfection. The latter was also an unbelievably flavorful dish, almost like a paella, with a mix of seafood and sausage and an unexpected twist with its shiso garnish. Last but not least, the tempranillo braised beef cheeks were rich and juicy, served atop a cheesy potato puree. Although at this point we were beyond full, Chef brought us over one last dish; a dessert that is worth coming here for alone: chocolate olive oil almond cake, topped with coconut cream and served with a side of warm caramel sauce. This gooey cake is baked in a mini cast iron pan, which is delivered straight to your table, topped with shredded coconut and toasted almonds. Perfect for a girls night out, date night, or even dining solo at the bar, Canela is a great choice for eaters GF and non-GF alike. The staff are very knowledgable and happy to guide you through the menu and modify dishes where needed, no matter what your dietary restrictions may be. Definitely come here for the tortilla and a glass of Albariño, and stay for the chocolate olive oil cake.