Monday, January 31, 2011

Tapas at Cava

This was one epic dinner at Cava for my friend's birthday back in November of last year. We had 7 people for this meal and we left it up to the chef to bring out whatever he wanted. That night was very memorable and unforgettable. It is getting harder and harder these days for my close friends to meet up and get together, and I really cherish these occasions. I think we spent more than 3 hours at Cava  just eating, chatting, and catching up.

Cava is tucked away in a small plaza. I had difficulty finding the restaurant even though I parked only down the street from it. There was no visible sign outside the plaza so Cava is pretty easy to miss (I had to phone my friend and ask her to come outside and wave haha). 

Cava is a small restaurant, you see it all once you walk in. However, it does not feel small or crammed at all. We got a big rectangular table by the front of the restaurant; this is a picture taken from where I was sitting.

They posed for me =)

Hanging meat.

Cava chef and co-owner, Chris McDonald (@Cavachef on twitter), worked as a chef in Mexico for 2 years and in the restaurant business for over 25 years.

Started things off with a pitcher of red sangria for the table, with a few people ordering their own beer / wine.

Cava is a tapas style restaurant so this is one of the rare times that I got to taste all of the dishes. 

Smoked king fish ceviche with a frisée salad - Loved the light colours of this dish. The fish was so fresh and it was perfect with the light salad and the crisps on the side if you're looking for something crunchy to accompany the ceviche.

Pinchos of gamay-poached foie gras with prune plum chutney - Probably my favourite that night. Can't go wrong with a big thick piece of foie gras! The chutney was a nice fruity balance to the thick and creamy foie gras.

Supergildas (anchovies, olives, sardines) - Excellent presentation.

Stacked high and tall. Needless to say, skip this if you don't like anchovies or sardines. However, I did not know sardines can taste this good (probably because when I do eat sardines it is usually out of a can hehe)

Oysters on a half shell with tomatillo salsa - Nothing special about this. It was fresh and all but it's not something I would order at Cava.

Lacuarta ham - The ham was really thinly sliced. My friends joked that this presentation reminded them of the sliced meat for Chinese hot pot. 

Albacore tuna with tomato salsa - Another beautiful dish. The tuna and the salsa were great complements to one another.

Roast sable fish with escarole and black rice - My second favourite of the night. The sable fish was sooo buttery and soft. I liked the black rice too.

Three minute flank steak with white purée and chimichurri - I'm not a fan of flank steak so naturally I'm not crazy about this dish. I liked the chimichurri.

Veal sweetbreads with radicchio-poblano chile salad & walnut vinaigrette - My favorite kind of veal (FYI veal sweetbreads can be either from the thymus gland or the pancreas). Naturally, the meat here is delicate and full of flavor. Didn't care too much for the salad.

Beef tripe basquaise - I was a bit disappointed in this dish but I think it's just me. Why? Well because it just reminds me of beef tripe in Chinese dim sum. I think because beef tripe is used so much in Asian cuisine (especially in dim sum in and Vietnamese pho) I don't really appreciate it as much as I should. Again, totally just me.

Lamb albondigas with chipotle-tomato sauce - I thought these "lamb balls" were a bit on the dry side, and I couldn't taste the chipotle much in the sauce so it basically tasted like plain tomato sauce to me.

For dessert, we had a molten chocolate lava cake for the birthday girl.

Two different kinds of truffles, one for each of us (don't ask me what they were because I forgot, just know that they were heavenly).

Also had a plate of these chocolates. They brought these out at the end because the birthday girl wanted something with "nuts" (there was a whole joke with us and the servers regarding her desire for "nuts"). Didn't expect them to actually fulfill her request (she was only joking and a bit tipsy already to say the least) but they ended up bring out these chocolates with nuts for her =D

I got to taste some really cool tapas at Cava that night. I can't say I will go back anytime soon though because it is quite expensive (that's usually the danger of tapas anyway because you tend to order a lot of dishes and this time we left it up to the chef). But like I mentioned, it is the experience that counts and I will still recommend Cava if you're looking for something different and unique for a special occasion.

P.S: Xococava was closed when we went. Xococava (pronounced "shoco-cava") is a sweets,  ice cream shop which carries 12 flavours of artisanal ice cream, churros, chocolate bars, cakes, pastries, espresso and handmade truffles. Anyone know if it's still opened? I would like to go if it is since I'm such a crazy dessert fan.

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