Cava Restaurant is literally a “hidden gem” as it is tucked away on the terrace of a plaza in Deer Park. The restaurant is run by chef/restauranteur Chris McDonald, who formerly owned Avalon, creating intricate tasting menus and later a cured-meat program that lives on at Cava. Most chefs who feature charcuterie on their menus were probably still in diapers when McDonald pioneered the movement.
This Spanish restaurant and wine bar features a delicious list of small plates from Basque to Catalonia. As equally extensive is their list of wines, most notably a page-long Sherry section. While oenophiles will want to enjoy their wine by the glass (or by the bottle), at Cava the wine isn’t just made for sipping – it’s also used to enhance flavours with dishes such as the Gamay-poached foie gras.
There’s no need for background music as dinner chatter fills up the space. I nabbed a seat at the bar and it was quite interesting watching the dynamic between the staff – can’t say I’ve seen such a steady flow of communication or teamwork at any other restaurant in town.
My meal starts with the Gamay-poached foie gras with rhubarb compote and the Supergilda (a super-tapas with a pan con tomate as the base + a gilda (pincho) made of pickerel “en escabeche” secured with a skewer of anchovy fillet, olive + Guindilla pepper). Alec, one of 2 sommelier’s at Cava provided great pairings to go with each – a late harvest sémillon with the foie and a white sherry with the Supergilda. The bread is buttery and crunchy and is more than just a serving vessel.
Continuing on next is a Kingfish Ceviche “verde” with lime juice, avocado + tomatillos which had just the right amount of zing to it. To cut some of the spice, I sipped on a 2010 Tawse Echoes Riesling.
One of my favourite dishes of the night however, had to be the Miso-Cider Glazed Sablefish which cascaded off the fork in neat layers on a bed of black rice and braised escarole. The fattiness of this fish made for a juicy, tender fish and the bed of black rice was a great choice to sop up the glazing liquids and natural juices of the fish for a boost of flavour. This was paired with a Palacios Remondo Placét 2009, Rioja which had a nice floral and peach nose to it.
My second most favourite dish is the Fried Japanese Eggplant with queso fresco, honey + tomatillo topped with bonito flakes – the medley of ingredients was well-balanced and made for a symphony of flavours. Cheese + honey are always a winning combination for me
And for those who love a Baked Alaska, you won’t have to wait until the next cruise ship vacation to have one. McDonald’s version features an airy layer of meringue which encases a lemon-pistachio ice cream with a saffron-pepper cake and sherry-poached pears. The pistachio coats your mouth like peanut butter and the lemon cuts through some of the natural fats from the nut as the spongey cake layers join the party. Truly an amazing dessert!
And a Spanish meal is incomplete unless Churros* make an appearance. It is served with a pot of chocolate sauce + cajeta.
McDonald definitely knows how to excite the taste buds as his dishes have big, bold flavours without overwhelming the palate. Umame, bitter, sweet, sour, salty – whatever your poison – you’ll die a slow, but pleasant death after dining at Cava.
*Normal serving size has 5 churros.
**This meal was complimentary but as always, views are my own. Please note that the purpose of this post is simply to document/profile a restaurant that I got to visit as a media representative and should be in no way construed as a review**