I like to think that I'm well-rounded, cultured and knowledgeable about food. My parents started taking my brother and I out to some nice Summerlicious/Winterlicious restaurants in Toronto when I was 12 (YYZ and Rose Water Supper Club) and later Feenie's (now closed) in Vancouver. On a trip to the UK, we visited a few Asian Fusion restaurants by Alan Yau (Wagamama's) and even one with a Michelin Star (Hakkasan). More recently we've been going to culinary schools in the states (Philly, Chicago, NYC) as well as an Iron Chef worthy restaurant (Amada of Jose Garces in Philadelphia).
I'm not a picky eater, but I like to choose where I eat wisely. I think I get it from my Mom... we both like to intensely search online for where and what to eat on the most special of occasions. My Dad, on the other hand, enjoys good food, but wouldn't mind eating at a good old loud and crowded Chinese restaurant.
Cava is a tapas (Spanish for "small plates") restaurant. The website boasts "small plates, big flavours" and notes a "nose-to-tail" sustainable approach on using high quality, ethical, and sustainable ingredients in their dishes.
Cava Charcuteria aka preserved meat plate || $17.50
(1) orange blossom oil ________
(2) duck liver and foie gras mousse
(3) pepperoni (don't remember the exact wording)
I believe they change the charcuterie depending on what's in the kitchen. My favourite was the duck liver mousse, overly rich and artery clogging, yet so wonderful. I'd like to have a tub full of this to have at home to spread on toast in the morning. Everything else was so-so and the mortadella tasted like sandwich meat (in no way a highlight of the meal).
Chipotle Caramel Popcorn || $3.50
At a glance, this just looks like your typical caramel popcorn. It's not. At first, I thought it was... but the chipotle kick comes in near the end. The crunchy/sweet/spicy combo was a yes for me!
Pincho of Gamay-Poached Foie Gras with Pear Compote || $8.95
mmm... more foie gras. Despite the rich foie gras, I found this to be the most balanced dish of the meal. The foie gras was toned down by the gamay flavouring (wine) and the pear added a slight acidity. To
top bottom it all off, crunchy slice of bread that was a great contrast to the smooth, rich foie gras.
Eggplant with Queso Fresco, Honey, and Tomatillo Sauce || $9.75
This reminded me a LOT of a Japanese braised eggplant. The "menu name" is a bit confusing so let me break it down for you. It's fried eggplant in a sweet green tomato sauce... and it's great! I'm not particularly a fan of vegetarian dishes but this one is just stunning. The honey/tomatillo sauce adds the right amount of pop.
Seared Sea Scallops with Smoked Parsnip Puree and French Lentils || $23
It's a bit of a tradition for my family and I to order scallops when we eat out. This one was a little bit of a downer. The scallops were prepared to perfection, but the parsnip puree and lentils made it a bit heavy. Not to mention the "smoked" part of the parsnip puree was a little too smoky. This made the dish too earthy for the delicate scallops.
Forty-Eight Hour Beef Brisket || $22
If it's in the cooker for 48 hours, it's bound to taste amazing. This was deliciously flavoured with salty savoury goodness.
Duck Magret with Trinxat and Violet Mustard Sauce || $18
I'm a fan of duck, but not mustard. However, the mustard in this dish was so subtle that it actually tasted good. The violet was not overpowered by the mustard in the sauce and the duck was cooked perfectly!
Smokey Octopus with clams, Charred Red Onions, Capers and Mint || $17.50
This one was good, but it felt like it was missing something... acid maybe. It was less "smokey" as compared to the scallops, which made it ok.
Veal Sweetbreads with Radicchio-Poblano Chile Salad and Walnut Vinagrette || $23
Sweetbreads (animal insides) are an acquired taste. This was the first time I've had sweetbreads and now I know that sweetbreads ain't my thing. Though... the salad was great! I pretty much ate all of that.
Honeycrisp Tarte Tatin with Bacon Brisee and Ginger Cardamom Ice Cream
Last but not least.. dessert! It was like a fancy/weird apple pie with ice cream. I love mixing spicy with sweet so, the ice cream was my favourite part. The apple and tarte tatin felt like pretty sides to complement it.
Complimentary chocolates! omnomnomnom
In terms of dining experience, the waiter was kind and came around often to fill our glasses of water and ask how we were enjoying our meal. Minus one for a dirty plate, but other than that excellent service.
At the end of the meal, I got a little ice cream voucher for XOCAVA, the sister dessert shop next door.The foie gras, the eggplant, the duck, the beef brisket, and the dessert gave me the most warm and cozy feeling in my tummy, but everything else was so-so. Overall, the food was good. not amazing, but good. Would I eat here again? Yes, but I'd likely skip a few dishes and try others on the menu. **7.5/10**
Any recommendations or favourites for where to eat in Toronto (...brownie points if it's cheap)?