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I visited Cava a second time for a Dish Duel tasting with Jacob (Restos in To) and had another fantastic experience.

On this occasion we started out with the Chipotle-Caramel Popcorn ($3.50), something I was disappointed we didn’t get last time. The popcorn arrived in a little paper cone attached to a little stand that fit right into a hole in the table top – a very specialized contraption. I didn’t detect much of a chipotle flavour. It was more like regular caramel popcorn with a bit of a kick at the end of it. But I’m not complaining…I’m a huge fan of caramel popcorn.

Chipotle-Caramel Popcorn

The next dish that arrived was the Roasted Beet Salad – with kale, currants and Monforte Toscano cheese ($9.75), which came with several large slices of beet. The combination of the kale, currants and cheese was perfect. My only complaint was that the salad was a touch too oily.

Roasted Beet Salad

We also ordered the Salt Cod Cake – with piperade and chipotle crema ($12.75). I’ve never had salt cod before so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Given its name, it wasn’t quite as salty as I had expected but what caught me off guard was its firm and chewy texture. The cod cake along with the piperade (a mix of peppers and onions) and chipotle crema was quite enjoyable.

Salt Cod Cake

Next up was the featured Dish Duel dish, the Seared Sea Scallops – with smoked parsnip puree and French lentils ($22). This dish came with four perfectly seared and seasoned scallops. These plump scallops had a lightly seared exterior with a medium-rare interior and were oh-so-delicious. The scallops were served on top of lentils and a buttery parsnip puree, which made this a very earthy dish. The lentils added a nice bit of texture to the dish while the parsnip puree contributed some sweetness to it all. A big hit!

Seared Sea Scallops

While ordering, Jacob informed me that he always orders sweetbreads whenever he sees it on the menu. Since I haven’t had the best experiences with sweetbreads, I was a little hesitant but I’m really glad we ended up ordering the Veal Sweetbreads – with radicchio poblano chile salad and walnut vinaigrette ($22). It turned out to be one of my favourite dishes! The sweetbreads were perfectly cooked and had a great flavour to it which reminded me a lot of chicken – not at all livery.

Veal Sweetbreads

To accompany our meat and seafood dishes, we ordered the Cauliflower and Kabocha Squash Tangine – with medjool dates and spanish saffron ($9.50). It was a pretty earthy dish and I enjoyed the sweetness coming from the squash and dates. Although there wasn’t much to it in terms of presentation, it sure was delicious and addictive.

Cauliflower and Kabocha Squash Tangine

For dessert, we went with Xococava’s Daily Sundae ($8). Today’s sundae consisted of a scoop of vanilla and black currant ice cream, topped with ginger syrup and crumbled peanut brittle. The vanilla ice cream was nice but the stand out was the black currant ice cream which had a very intense black currant flavour. The ginger syrup wasn’t too overpowering and added a nice refreshing element to the sundae. Oh, and that peanut brittle… just incredible! I wonder if they sell this stuff over at Xoxocava…

Xococava’s Daily Sundae

Something else that had caught Jacob’s eye was one of the Cheese & Chocolate Pairings for $5 each. He decided to be adventurous and went with the blue cheese and dark chocolate with rosemary & black walnut. Since I’m not a fan of blue cheese, I decided to stay away from this one. What did Jacob think? He just said it was “interesting”.

Cheese and Chocolate Pairing

Overall, another fantastic dinner. Delicious food and wonderfully informative staff. Highly recommended!

At a glance:
• Extensive tapas menu and wine list
• Dishes range from around $9 to $22
• Try the Chef’s Choice for $45 to $60 per person
• Located on Yonge just north of St. Clair
• Sister chocolate shop next door – Xoxocava

Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4.5 stars
• Service: 4 stars
• Atmosphere: 3 stars

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