Note: Candela closed in March 2007. Evidently, mediocre food in an industrial loft-like setting was as unappealing to others as it was to us. The space re-opened in October 2007 as Irving Mill.
The first clue that we were in for a mediocre meal at Candela was the blurb on the restaurant’s OpenTable profile: “New American Cuisine offered in an industrial loft like setting illuminated by candles.” The second clue came when we arrived and saw the menu, which offers sushi rolls, pasta dishes, and everything in between. Any restaurant attempting to cover such a far-ranging territory is bound to have more misses than hits.
The dark industrial candle-lit setting screams “date place” — and indeed, I would recommend it for that. It doesn’t scream “Sushi place,” but a Sesame Crusted Shrimp roll ($7) turned out to be the meal’s highlight. Crispy Atlantic Halibut with mushrooms, spring onions, and sweet pea puree ($24) was a competent but dull performance. My friend thought the same about Fresh Ricotta Rigatoni ($14).
I was pleased to see an ample selection of wines in the $30–40 range. I’ve forgotten which one we settled on, but in relative terms it was a bargain. I wasn’t gouged on a cocktail ($8), either.
Candela (116 E. 16th Street between Park Avenue South & Irving Place, Union Square)
Overall: acceptable for a low-key date place, but I won’t rush back