HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >


Cava Money, Money, Money, Money.......

Im interested in peoples opinions of Cava.
My girlfriend and I eat there and I found it to be SO expensive!

As an example the steak (Flat Iron 4.99 a lbs.) with white puree was 16 dollars.
While it was good, the portion size was far to small for that price point!
I know what some is going to say "its Tapas" fine, make the price half.

Some simple math.

If this dish had a 30% food cost (Industry standard) that would give the house 4.80 to work with, fair. That amount of money could purchase almost 1 pound of Flat Iron (Whole Sale price 4.99) The plate being tapas has only 2 maybe 3 oz. at which equals a cost of .93 cents.
Let say, the white puree (Celery Root & Heavy Cream) cost the same as the Beef to make it simple another .93 cents.

Total cost 1.87
Food Cost about 12%

Wheres the Value?

Am I Crazy?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Is this a rhetorical question?

    1. Isn't it understood by diners that we aren't just paying for the ingredients?

      My general principle is, if I don't feel like I'm getting value for my money, then I just don't go. Vote with your feet and if enough people feel the same way, then they will get the message soon enough.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pinkprimp

        That's not exactly a fair comment, pinkprimp - klaret simply used an industry benchmark as a way to assess value for money, but in no way suggested that we're only paying for the ingredients.

        I had the same dish and the same reaction - in comparison to other restaurants with similar quality of food and dining experience, Cava is more costly. And as much as we liked the food at Cava, my wife and I have indeed voted with our feet.

        I would take no pleasure in seeing Cava close, though - ideally I'd like to go back if the value for money equation changed.

        The question is not whether it's our loss or the restaurant's - the beauty of sites like chowhound is that owners don't have to wonder why people aren't coming back, they can see our feedback and (if they so choose) adjust accordingly.

      2. Firstly, I enjoyed my meal there. All the dishes that I had certainly met my expectations (the desserts exceeded them, warm chocolate cake, ridiculous).

        In terms of value, I would say Cava is priced reasonably well considering the quality of the food. Since I'd assume the average person would order 3-4 dishes, they'd spend about 40$ which is on par for an entree and app at other similar restaurants (and perhaps a similar quantity of food as well).

        Could it be cheaper? Sure. Would I like it to be cheaper? Ofcourse. But I assume like most restaurants, they price the dishes at what they think they can sell them for and they might not necessarily use a constant restaurant wide markup on items. Also, lets not forget hidden costs like labour and overhead.

        Compare the input costs of a fountain drink to what they sell them for. It's the highest margin item in the business if I'm not mistaken. Also, liquor markups vary from restaurant to restaurant. Perhaps taking into account those hidden costs (staff, rent, utilities, etc.).

        If you find yourself questioning the cost of the item, then perhaps to your perferences, you found the price to be greater than the enjoyment of the dish. Others may disagree. Such is life (and why Sassafraz still stands... sigh)


        1560 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4T 2S9, CA

          1. re: JamieK

            My point is this is this restaurant is a Wolf in Sheep's clothing.
            This is not Tapas, just a cash grab.
            Look at the location. ( If you can even find it!) This is not high cost.
            Some food for thought, where did Avalon go?
            Looks like some people voted with there feet.

            Thank you for you interest.

            1. re: klaret

              Agree! Been there twice. Not at all impressed by the food and price. Never returned since!

              BYW, one of the worse meal I had in TO was at Avalon! Fishy smelling and mushy texture grilled sardines as well as sweet bread on some watery sauce that had been left under the heating lamp for sooooo long. ( A film actually formed on top of the sauce! )

          2. You may be surprised, but menus are not exactly priced according to the price of ingredients. Not all restaurants are based around "value." Extreme value is to be had at many places though. Where else can you get a double cheeseburger for $1.39, other than McDonald's? I couldn't make it for that price if I bought the beef, buns and cheese!

            1. I'm a little puzzzled too!
              If you search this board, you'll find that Cava is consistently rated as 'expensive for what you get'. The food is 'quite good' - the price isn't.
              So you're not crazy in your assessment - only a tiny bit for not checking the reviews here first!

              But, I note you're a new contributor, so my recommendation is to learn how to use the search feature.
              Welcome to Chowhound. Obviously your impressions are similar to others, so I expect to value your future contributions.

              1. But what kind of Flatiron steak is it? Is your price whoalesale from Cumbraes for aged beef? simple items on a menu may actually involve a lot meore behind the scenes. Cava has been around a long time now and Avalon even longer. The chef is an exceptional chef and uses the best ingredients. I am sure you can get flat iron cheaper elsewhere but it will not be the quality and skill that you get at cava. I for one am willing to pay for teh difference...

                1. In flusher times, I greatly enjoyed sitting at the bar and leaving the choices up to staff. I found that a little diligence was required on making sure that I wasn't poured bottled water, or steered towards the less value-conscious choices. I've found the food to be very good, consistent, and flavourful, with the menu of the sort where it's very easy to slide into a large bill if you're not careful.

                  Like most places, they are in the food sales business. The bottom line is material to them, and undoubtedly there will be some dishes that are more profitable than others (ie fries). I don't think they can be isolated as the only place in town that does that.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Snarf

                    I think he tries for a 10% food cost and 25% booze cost.

                    This is the premium you pay for having your food "conceived" by the greatest chef in the western hemisphere.

                  2. Cava has a local celebrity chef as an owner which will only naturally jack up the price. I'm sure Mr. McDonald is bringing in better steak than one would get at European Meats for $4.99/lb though. You've brought up a very good point, 12% food cost is silly but same goes if you're ordering a pizza. A better question to ask is, did you have a good time? Was this a memorable experience?
                    Personally, I find this sort of a place goes against the whole point of the tapas experience in Spain. Toronto Tapas=double the price+half the food

                    1. i think people looking for Spanish Tapas in Toronto are missing the fact that they are in Toronto. i wouldn't want to replicate my tapas experience from Barcelona in Toronto. that's what made Barcelona special.

                      North Americans, in general, expect large portions. the vast majority of patrons going to these so-called tapas restaurants would complain. i wish these places would stop calling themselves tapas bars; but, i doubt they will.

                      my point, get over it and as pinkprimp says, vote with your feet and don't go.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: dickiegreenleaf

                        Cava does NOT call itself a Tapas restaurant (http://www.cavarestaurant.ca) that is a label everyone else has put on them... mostly because it is what people understand and they need lables.. just like many "french" restaurants serve more then french food (some in fact serve almost no french dishes) and any place that serves pasta with momoato sauce is Italian... What would you label Cava as?

                        1. re: OnDaGo

                          Actually, from their own website they DO call themselves a tapas place:

                          ...Located in the neighbourhood just north of Yonge and St. Clair in mid-town Toronto, Cava is a wine- and small-plates tapas bar, whose eclectic flavours reflect the culinary breadth of McDonald’s current interests, ranging from Spanish, Italian and French with occasional Mexican flourishes.

                          Anyway, I think that what Chris McDonald is doing comes from a noble and genuine desire to provide good, honest food. The problem that all restaurateurs face of course, is finding that balance with keeping customers happy (service and pricewise) and also making it worthwhile to stay in business, make a good living, and pay employees. And so, sometimes it takes years to find that balance. I say we give them a little more time, although I must admit i was SHOCKED that someone of his seemingly knowledgeable restaurant intellect chose a horrendous location. Have no idea how much his rent is, but I sure hope it's cheap to make up for it.

                          1. re: Raquel

                            I hate websites like that.. I did not see the "History" page (the only spot where it does mention Tapas on the site) because the only way to get to it is to mouse over the image.. sorry... my bad

                          2. re: OnDaGo

                            You are right, they call themselves a tapas "bar".

                            From the HISTORY page of the website:

                            Located in the neighbourhood just north of Yonge and St. Clair in mid-town Toronto, Cava is a wine- and small-plates tapas bar, .....

                            Is there a difference between a tapas restaurant and tapas bar, or are you just splitting small plates? :-)