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Stand out dishes at Cava?

We are headed to Cava to celebrate my husband's birthday -- I've had a look at the menu and was wondering if anyone could let me know if there are any standouts that shouldn't be missed. Any favourites you can suggest?

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  1. It looks like they are still waving corkage fee on Sundays. The menu has changed a little since I was last there. Charcuteria is some of the best in the city, if I'm not mistaken, the chef from the Black Hoof learned from Doug Penfold and Chris MacDonald. I also enjoyed the mushroom tamale, asparagus, sardines, skirt steak and chocolate cake. And don't miss the sweet breads. They suggested a sherry to drink with the sweetbreads, which was a perfect pairing. Please let us know how it goes.

    1. I was there last Saturday and had many of the dishes dubchild mentioned. My personal faves were the sardines two ways and the skirt steak, which was just perfectly cooked. Hope you enjoy it!

      1. I really liked Cava's tortilla soup which was on their menu last fall and winter, but it doesn't seem to be on the current menu.

        Noticed they now have a white gazpacho- hope to dine there sometime soon to try it out.

        1. The clams & chorizo, braised beef cheeks and churros w/chocolate are my favourites.

          1. I went last night. My first and only time--I'm not from here--but going in a large group allowed me to sample a lot of the menu. Among the many excellent choices, I particularly liked the cuttlefish (served with the ink), the jamon tortillita with octopus and romesco sauce, the quail with pork belly, and the heirloom bean dish. The only totally underwhelming dish was the chard with pine nuts and currants (a variation on a catalan standard, but Cava's was underseasoned, undersalted, and overcooked); the foie gras dish, though considerably better than that, nonetheless struck me as easy to skip, both because it's one of the more expensive items on the menu and because foie gras can be done much better. But the overall quality of food was first-rate and its very much a fun place to go--seems like a great birthday spot..

            4 Replies
            1. re: professor chow

              Thanks so much for all of your recommendations!! We ate there last night and were blown away by the quality of the food and the service. We don't live too far away and can't believe we had not been before. The skirt steak in particular was outstanding - wonderfully cooked and so flavourful. We also had the eggplant which I loved -- it was fried with a tomatilla sauce on it. We enjoyed the flatbread and dip, salt cod cake, and ordered the heirloom bean salad twice because it was so delicious. The tamal was tasty but not outstanding -- I think it could have used a bit more sauce. We will definitely be going back.

              1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                Very timely post, as I was just looking at Cava for a birthday as well. From your comments, it sounds like you ordered a total of around 7 dishes? Was this between two people? Curious as to how large the portions are and how many two people would order for a full meal. Was it very busy?

                1. re: SMOG

                  Cava is a great birthday choice -- we had a blast. They told us 6 dishes should do the two of us. Depends on how you like to eat -- I think you'd be fine with 6 no problem. Being in an indulging mood, we ordered 11 including two desserts and an appetizer. The portions are tapas style and a good size I think. I was actually quite full mid-way through but it was all delicious. Desserts were nice but next time I think I'd just head next door to Xocava and grab an ice cream and go for a walk. Have a great time!!

                  1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                    For dessert youv'e got to have the wild blueberry clafouti with lemon ice cream at Cava, then by all means go next door and pick up some yummy choco's to take home.

            2. best dish by FAR:
              deep fried japanese eggplant served with soft cow's milk cheese on a honey tomatillo sauce with bonito flakes on top

              1 Reply
              1. re: dangoodbaum

                I second this recommendation for the eggplant. I wouldn't dream of returning and not ordering it. It's a study in contrasts. The delicate bonito flakes wave at you - atop a piece of fried eggplant. The honey is subtle and is a counterpoint to the salt of the cheese and bonito. The soft milky cheese is a foil for the bright tomatillo sauce. It just all works in a way that's beyond what the description suggests. The churros are pretty good too. The dish doesn't feel breakfasty at all - for some reason. And the generous pot of chocolate comes subtly spiced with cardamom - my all-time favourite chocy combo.

              2. Went to Cava this weekend and enjoyed it. I'd never been before and was looking forward to it. We went around 8:30, so stopped into Xococava beforehand, as we knew it would be closed by the time we finished dinner.

                We started off with a 1/2 litre of the white sangria, which was absolutely delicious! Very crisp and just the right amount of fruitiness. We decided to order 5 dishes between two of us to ensure we had room for dessert.

                - Fennel, apple and olive salad. Very nice. Very fresh and good flavour. It was predominantly fennel and I would have liked to have more apple mixed in, but overall it worked well.

                - Sardines two ways. I enjoyed both ways, but was more impressed with the non-grilled version. I don't recall how it was done exactly, but it came with onions and a cintrucy sauce, almost like a ceviche. The grilled version also very good and came with a tapenade.

                - Smoked kingfish ceviche. Loved this dish. The fish had a light smokey flavour and was mixed with herbs (parsley, cilantro, etc). It had a frisee salad on the side, which went very nicely with the fish.

                - Tagine with cauliflower and squash. This dish was delicious. It had a nice sweetness to it and the flavours meshed very nicely together.

                - Skirt steak with white puree and chimcurri. This was my favourite dish. The steak was nicely charred and medium-rare on the inside. The white puree, which I think was white beans and parsnip, was very light, but went well with the steak. And the chimchurri blew me away - it was almost overwhelmingly flavourful and had a very interesting texture. When put together, the flavours and textures were explosive.

                - For dessert, we had the dessert tapas and the chocolate ybarra cake. The tapas were pretty good. The cake was phenomenal! It was a large cake with sauce around the plate and chocolate covered coffee beans. I've had great ybarra cake before, but this one takes the cake! The external chocolate shell was relatively thin, so the majority of this dish was the chocolate ganache goo on the inside, which was just awesome!

                Overall, I really enjoyed my experience. While I really liked everything and loved a couple things, nothing really blew me away or wowed me. If I were to return, I'd definitely have the steak again and would not hesitate to order the ybarra cake.