If you’re a fan of tapas, there’s really no better place in the city to go than Cava. The restaurant is located on Yonge, just north of St. Clair in a random plaza. You’d easily miss it if you didn’t know it was there.
The décor of the restaurant itself didn’t strike me as a high-end restaurant but I noticed the crowd was filled with many suited folks. Not to worry though, the service didn’t strike me as snobby at all.
Cava has an extensive menu so I recommend coming with several other people to tackle more of the menu. I came here with Mike, my cousin Anita and her husband, Steve. We were having trouble narrowing our choices down so when the server came by and told us about the “Chef’s choice” option, we quickly decided on that. With the Chef’s Choice, the kitchen would serve us their best dishes for around $45 to $60 per person depending on our appetite.
The first dish that arrived was the Smoked Kingfish Ceviche ($14). What can I say? The ceviche was really tasty. Sure, the side of chips that the ceviche came with was a tad too salty but it still ended up being one of my favourites of the evening.
Next came the Cava Charcuteria. I’m not sure if this normally comes with the Chef’s tasting but initially our server had asked us for any specific dishes we wanted to try and this was one of them.
The dish came with four different components. The first component I tried was the German sausage which was quite enjoyable. Next was an orange and fennel sausage. I couldn’t detect much of the fennel as I found the orange flavour to be a little too overpowering. The third component was the Bresaola (cured beef), which I didn’t find to be anything special. Out of everything served on the charcuterie plate, my favourite part was the creamy liver pate which tasted delicious spread over a piece of toast.
The next dish that arrived was something I never would have thought of ordering, the “Supergilda.” It consisted of a sardine, pickled chili’s and olives stacked on top of a crostini. I’m not even a huge fan of sardines and I still really enjoyed this. Despite all the salty components of the dish, it all worked.
Shortly after finishing the Supergilda, we were served the Pincho of Gamay-Poached Foie Gras with Quince Mostarda. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect given the description on the menu, but this dish came with two thin slices of smooth, buttery foie gras served atop a crostini. The addition of the quince mostarda added a nice bit of sweetness and paired perfectly with the foie gras.
The first hot dish served was the Eggplant – with queso fresco, honey and tomatillo sauce which arrived in a small clay dish. The eggplant was topped with bonito flakes which made it seem as though the dish was alive. The exterior of the eggplant was extremely crisp and the combination of the large chunks of queso fresco cheese and the tomatillo sauce was the perfect combination. I couldn’t really detect the honey in the sauce but it was delicious nonetheless.
Next up was the Pastel Negro – with apples and sablefish. Unfortunately this dish was the low point of the evening. For those of you who know me, you’ll know that I love sablefish (aka black cod) and the one at Cava left me disappointed. Normally sablefish has a very smooth and buttery texture due to its high fat content but I found this to be a little on the dry side.
After the sablefish, the Venison Antichuco – with a warm red cabbage salad arrived. The dish was presented as cubes of venison on a skewer served on top of a warm cabbage salad. The meat itself was so-so. It was cooked well but I found the flavour to be a little lacking. I didn’t love the cabbage either as I found it too vinegary for my liking. Mike, on the other hand, really enjoyed it though.
The next dish was one of the specials of the evening, Chicken liver – with chanterelles, chestnuts and andouille. When the server came by to inform us what the specials were, Steve really wanted to try it. I was a little hesitant but I’m glad it was ordered. It was such an earthy dish with the liver and chestnuts. It came with a side of two pieces of bread with andouille spread over it. Delicious!
The Roast Quail – filled with chicken, served with Moorish chickpea stew, on the menu had caught my eye and I was glad we were served this. Your eyes aren’t fooling you – the quail is really filled with chicken! The quail, which was deboned, and the chicken filling was very moist and flavourful. It kind of reminded me of eating a giant meatball. By this point in the meal, I was starting to slow down a little so I didn’t eat very much of the chickpeas. I had to save room for whatever else was to come!
Continuing with the meat courses, the next dish was the Beef Flatiron Steak – with white puree and chimichurri, which was cooked to a nice medium rare. The meat was tender and had a nice flavour but the star of the dish for me was the “white puree.” I wish I could tell you what the puree was but unfortunately I couldn’t identify it… but it sure was tasty!
To compliment all the dishes, we were served a Fresh Corn Tamale – with wild plum mushrooms and pasilla chile-wild plum sauce. I’ve never had a tamle before but I enjoyed this one. Although it doesn’t have a ton of flavour on its own, it complimented the steak nicely.
Despite eating all of this food, we still found some room for dessert! The one thing we were all looking forward to was the Churros con Chocolate ($8) which came with five small churros. Unfortunately I found them to be a little disappointing. They weren’t bad… but there was just something missing. The delicious side of dipping chocolate certainly helped though!
They certainly redeemed themselves with our second dessert, the Warm Ibarra Chocolate Cake – with brandied cherries and Chantilly ($9). I’ve gotta say this was one of the best molten lava cakes I’ve ever had. The cake was moist and had a gooey chocolate centre which wasn’t overly sweet. A perfect way to end a fantastic dinner…
…or so I thought! When the bill arrived, they gave us a selection of chocolates from their sister chocolate store next door, Xoxocava. We were given some salted earl grey and coffee toffee treats – both which were delicious.
I visited Cava a second time – check out the second page for the post.
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