Candor Grille owner Elaine Jackson said the restaurant’s logo, a fork, knife and spoon enclosed in a heart, is a tribute to her mother, Judy Kamerer, who passed away in 2016.
“My mother was an artist and she signed everything as Judi with a heart over the ‘i,’” she said.
Even though the heart is a nod to mom, it’s also a signal that all of Candor Grille’s food is made with love, thanks to the collaboration of Jackson and Texas chef Mike Badgett.
The restaurant, located at 13418 Boyette Rd. in River Springs Town Center, has a menu that features what Badgett calls good classic Southern comfort food, thanks in part to its smoker that churns out Texas-style beef brisket and pork. Traditional Southern sides include baked beans, potato salad, French fries and sweet corn.
Dishes have also been included on the menu that are a reflection of the pair’s years spent overseas. Barramundi, an Asian sea bass, is sautéed in a lemon butter sauce with micro greens and asparagus. Aglio e olio pasta is a classic Italian dish with roasted chili pepper, garlic-infused olive oil, parsley and Parmesan cheese. It can be served with chicken or shrimp. On the appetizer menu is a warm Bavarian pretzel served with stone-ground mustard, chili con queso, smoked sausage and cheddar cheese, which can be a meal in itself.
Not adventurous or a fan of barbeque? Not to worry, Candor Grille also serves up a selection of Mesquite grilled steaks, burgers, sandwiches, pasta and salads. A kids’ menu is also available for little ones.
One of the restaurant’s most popular dishes is crab claw salad, fresh pico and house spice served atop an open-faced avocado, shredded iceberg lettuce with a berry vinaigrette.
Customer Betty Forrester agrees the crab-stuffed avocado is delicious, but she has tried many dishes and said they’re all wonderful.
“We’ve lived in FishHawk for many years and the only negative was there aren’t really a lot of restaurant choices close to us,” she said. “When Candor Grille first opened, my husband and I decided we’d give it a try and weren’t disappointed.”
Candor Grille also features a full bar, including beer, wine and cocktails.
Jackson, who moved back from Afghanistan (which is another story entirely) after a successful career as director of five large companies at her mother’s request (when she realized family was more important than career), said one of the last things they did together was plan and design her Candor Grille’s first location in Tampa.
“She’s a part of Candor Grille because we worked on the concept together,” she said.
Mom may be gone but her dad, Navy veteran Clyde Breeden, affectionately known as Padre by the staff, visits the restaurant and is her biggest supporter.
“He encourages me to do my best, be humble and honest in everything I do,” said Jackson.
Candor Grille is open Monday-Thursday, 3 p.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 3 p.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Sunday, 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m. On the weekends, breakfast is served until 2 p.m.
Bring your four-legged friend; the restaurant also has outdoor dining and offers a menu just for them, from deli meat and chew bones to lactose-free ice cream with bacon.
For more information about Candor Grille, visit www.candorgrille.com or call 548-0410.