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Feb 19, 2010 04:46 AM

Cava: What to order?

The Gurlz are going to Cava. Are there any dishes you'd recommend? I don't eat veal or foie gras, but anything aside from that is fair game. Thanks to any who help.

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  1. The two dishes that stood out for me were the Japanese eggplant with bonito flakes and the skirt steak with chimichurri sauce.

    4 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo

      The eggplant and skirt steak are my favourites as well, and I also love the beef cheek.If this is your first time there, consider letting your host choose a menu for you. We've done this the last few times we've gone, and spend ~$60-70 per person after tax and tip (we drink the sangria). I think they aim for ~$40-45 in food per person, but you can stop them early/request fewer dishes if you're full, or tell them to keep going if you're not.

      I'm easily entertained, so I love sitting near the bar, where I can watch them assemble charcuterie plates.

      1. re: Underdog Rally

        I was thinking about letting them serve, but none of us are big eaters. I don't think it would work for them or us. I'll take it to the gurlz at the top, though, and see what they think. Thanks.

        Have either of you had them pair wines for you? I'd like to go that way especially since I'd probably stumble out a request for Charles Barkley Riesling.

        1. re: Googs

          The few times I've been the servers have been bang on with the wine suggestions. I'm not as familiar with the Spanish wine labels/territories so we decided to put our trust in the house, and their selections were great.

          The dishes that received the most compliments during my visits were the octopus anticucho with lentils (amazing) and the sardines two ways.


        2. re: Underdog Rally

          I concur -- skirt steak and eggplant are outstanding.

      2. Eggplant was my favourite as well. I had the charcuterie plate (duck braesola, foie terrine, chorizo, thuringer), chorizo was amazing but everything else wasn't as wowing.

        fried chili w manchego crostini was great too. Weird location for the restaurant, but great inside and a fun place.

        1. Not sure this works with a group who are socializing (rather than truly concentrating on the food) but, on occasion, Cava has BOTH a 'regular' jamon (often Serrano) and a Jamon Iberico (both carved from the whole ham). If so, a rare opportunity to try the Iberico side-by-side with a regular ham. Not cheap but at least you'll find out what the difference is (and be condemned to search for Iberico for the rest of your life).

          3 Replies
          1. re: estufarian

            I finally made it to Cava with 3 guests. We ordered 13 dishes. All were executed well, but only a few dishes stood out to me. I was hoping for some more extreme flavours and combinations of ingredients, but everything was executed very well, nonetheless. My favourite dishes were the venison anticucho (cooked to perfection and served on tasty red cabbage), beef cheek (wow -- so tender!) and the bruschetta with edamame hummus, roasted red peppers and grilled green onions. The charcuterie plate was mostly good (foie gras and chicken liver pate, duck bresaeola, Thuringer sausage and chorizo, but I didn't care for the chorizo at all. It wasn't spicy, smoky or garlicky in flavour. I was disappointed in the beet salad. The Marcona almonds were tasty and Valdeon cheese was heady, but the beets themselves had no flavour and the watercress wasn't very peppery. The jicama salad was nice, but they had managed to remove all heat and flavour from the serrano pepper slivers. Bummer for me, the chile lover. I found the papas fritas over-salted and the sage leaves had no sage flavour. I liked the chickpeas with morcilla and ham hock, though the morcilla was so flavourful that the ham hock was unnecessary. The swiss chard was cooked nicely. With currants and pine nuts, the flavour was quite subtle. It might have been an off night in the kitchen, but I found the eggplant dish to be really underseasoned. The tomatillo salsa was there visually, but had zero taste. The eggplant was cooked beautifully, so it was a shame that the tastes in the dish were so muted. The grilled calamari was good, but possibly cooked a few seconds too long. The odd bite was too chewy for my tastes. My least favourite dish was the clams with chorizo. It was the same chorizo from the charcuterie plate. The only thing it added to the clams was more salt. In fact, salt was the only flavour in the dish.

            I'm sure that had we ordered more seafood items, there'd have been less of a pattern of saltiness, since many of our dishes contained cured meats. With my parents as guests, we were trying to take their preferences into consideration. I'd like to return and try the dishes we avoided. I was really hoping for a riot of flavour contrasts, but mostly found salt as the predominant seasoning. Aside from the sweetness in the jicama salad, sweet, sour and spicy flavours were nonexistent. After a single visit to each of Cava and Torito, I'd personally have to say that I prefer the cooking style of the kitchen at Torito. It's only a first impression though. My thoughts might change (or not) after second visits to each.

            276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

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

            1. re: 1sweetpea

              We loved the bruscetta with the edamame hummus so much we ordered seconds of it! I don't think I've EVER done that in a restaurant before!!

              1. re: Sarah Cat

                The husband and I will be going to Cava this week for dinner. Has anyone been recently? I'd love recommendations on what to order. Thank you!

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

          2. the menu changes, so many of what i've had are no longer there. a highlight for us was a vegetable (a dark green, a bit like rapini) that was sauteed with bacon. the cheese plate was good but that depends on what they have to offer when you go. the clam and chorizo was disappointing.

            just a mini-warning about asking the restaurant to make your picks. when we did this, there was a definite bias towards the more expensive dishes (seafood items, iberico ham, etc.). that's not a problem if money is no object. but if it is, note from the menu that some of the higher priced dishes are more than double the lower priced ones; there is quite a range. so if someone else orders, in percentage terms, it could be quite a lot more than you expected to spend.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ta0126

              I just hosted a party there and our crowd ate its way through much of the menu. Highlights for me were: foie gras pinchos, the kingfish ceviche, sable on black rice, sweetbreads, 48-hour beef cheek, tripe and the squash tagine (though it was quite sweet with the Medjool dates). As a fish and seafood lover, I was surprised that my faves were so meaty, but what can I say? Cava's kitchen knows its way around meat. I also enjoyed the chickpeas with morcilla sausage, the eggplant (though the cheese was heavy), corn tamal with peanut mole sauce and supergilda of anchovy, sardine, olive, onion, etc. (loved this one, actually, but it was a bit unwieldy for eating). The edamame and roasted pepper bruschetta is really good, but I didn't eat it at the party, as it seemed dangerous to my outfit, LOL. I should also mention the chipotle popcorn, which is darn tasty, but probably not something you'd order as tapas, unless waiting for the rest of your guests to arrive.

              I think the papas fritas are pricey and not that exciting, personally. I didn't offer the clams or squid to guests, but have had both before and they're fine, but not highlights. I'd say the same about the chard. The salmon machaca is tasty, but not a standout. The albondigas are delish, but overshadowed by flashier meat dishes, such as the beef cheek and sweetbreads. The last one I'll mention is the albacore tuna, which is cooked nicely and a tasty dish, but I found, as I always do with fully cooked tuna, that it was more dry than I'd like.

              Hope that helps, but bear in mind these are merely my personal preferences.

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

            2. I've had mixed results with Cava: Outstanding and very average. I'd still be willing to play tapas roulette with them.

              I think one of the more important things you can do is allow them to sherry pair your dishes. I shake my head at the very notion, but the payoff is huge. Far superior results to wine or beer.

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