[DFW] Kavala Mediterranean Grill - recommendations?
Since we couldn't get any good recommendations in time, hopefully this will help others in the future.
Overall: Interior is much nicer than the exterior would leave one to expect. It's a small area, but they do a good job with the space. The patio looked nice, but we stayed inside. On the whole, service was good. We were a bit more difficult than a normal dining crowd, and out server got noticeably frazzled, but after seeing how much trouble it would be to ring us up separately on a single check, he brought out individual checks. Entree sizes were average and prices ranged from 15-25.
Lamb Souvlaki: Two skewers with three chunks of lean lamb each. about 1/3 lb total meat probably. Because of their leanness, they were fairly mild tasting. I didn't a cooking request and they came out right about medium and evenly cooked. The dish was served with a pita, a roasted veggie salad and some roasted potatoes. The potatoes were unremarkable but the salad was very good, kind of like a little bit of an antipasto. The pita was thick in contrast to the pita wedges they served with the appetizers which were thinner. Both were very fresh.
Chicken Livers: My favorite dish that I tasted. They had a mild liver flavor and a great tomato sauce that dressed them. There may have been a little too much sauce (masking the flavor of the searing) but it was a good enough sauce that it's no major transgression to me. Some people commented that they could have been seared a little harder and that the quality of the cooking varied from liver to liver. I think this is a must try dish if you go there. if you're with people who don't like liver, just tell them its sausage.
Spinach, feta and phyllo pie: no, they didn't call it spanokopita, but spelled the whole thing out. Perhaps this is because it was served casserole style as opposed to having the spinach wrapped in phyllo. The filling was darn near creamed spinach, and the feta was as present as I would like, but it was still very tasty. It was cooked very well, and the phyllo did not come out soggy.
Dolmas: I liked the texture of the interior, but some believed it was undercooked. It was a less homogenous texture than many dolmas I've had and it's flavor was fairly plain. We all agreed that the leaves were undercooked.
Eggplant: This was eggplant rounds (the size of chinese eggplants). They had a very thin and crispy batter on them and the encased eggplant was very creamy.
Hummus: Good straightforward hummus, served with the aforementioned pita wedges. The pita was also seasoned and sprinkled with some herbs that gave a nice extra flavor without overwhelming the flour and yeast. It was soft, but had enough structure and texture to handle dipping into hummus.
Anyone else want to share their thoughts?
Chicken livers, in the sauteed tomato and onions, was also my favorite dish. Our table's orders were less "Greek'. Mussels in white wine is Franco/Italian. Lamb chops and platter of fried seafood pan-Mediterranean, as was the octopus salad. My chicken stew tasted more Moroccan or perhaps Tunisian, with a strong turmeric component as well as spiciness from what, to my palate, tasted, strangely, more like berbere than the expected harissa. It also had the addition of both sweet white raisins and a couple of small green grapes. I liked the hummus but thought it could have used more of a tahini kick. The fresh pita was really good, though, especially after I sprinkled a little more salt on my pieces. Still, the template was decidedly Greek.
I generally don't have the requirement that a restaurant be strictly Greek, only Italian, etc. I enjoy the fact that a few establishment offers the opportunity to explore a region. Mediterranean is a bad example, however, because the topic is so, so broad and, overall, I would say to the Kavala team that, if you are going to shoot for this target of being a *great* Mediterranean restaurant, you will have to get much better, both in the kitchen and in service, than you are. For the time being, Kavala is trading on its "uniqueness" niche, in my opinion.
I would have rather done a study of a specific cuisine, or, even better, a specific ingredient, component, etc. But the varied epicurean experience of this night's dining group will take time to reach a level which would allow such focus.
Ate there a few weeks ago - all great! Our friends (who joined us) eat at Zikiki's regularly and I made them try Kavala for a change - they said it was better than Zikiki...especially the souvlaki (sp?). I loved the beet salad.
But what really stood out was the desserts - a nut tart and a freeform apple pie. Both were very freshly made that they did not need to be reheated (a way to crisp up staleness). They came out at room temp and were just perfect. I go just for these desserts again.