Mrs. Chow and I ventured out on Sunday to a new restaurant in Clarendon, Cava Mezze. Cava is a popular Mediterranean-style tapas restaurant with a couple of branches around the DC/MD/VA area. Usually, Mrs. Chow and I only dine at new places via coupons, but we decided to give it a try without one this time because we’d heard so many rave reviews from friends.
We got a good first impression of Cava. It’s a trendy Clarendon restaurant with many young professionals dining in pairs or groups on wooden tables, with dimmed lights and some hip background music. We were seated immediately as it wasn’t crowded on a Sunday evening at 7pm. We informed our waiter that it was our first time visiting and he recommended that we order one dish from each side of the menu. The left side contains cold items. The right contains the hot items and leans toward meats. We ended up ordering four items:
Baby Octopus Salad: There were large chunks of grilled octopus with thin slices of green apple and copa salami. It was lightly tossed in some mint vinaigrette. The octopus was cooked nicely, as it wasn’t rubbery and hard to chew. The green apple and red onion gave the dish a nice crisp bite each time and the mint vinaigrette gave the dish a nice tangy flavor. The copa salami was a good addition only because not every bite could include an octopus so it filled in nicely. This was probably our favorite dish of the evening.
Mezze sampler: This dish included hummus, tzatziki, eggplant dip, taramasalata, crazy feta, and ktipiti. Everything was good on this platter, but we realized after we ordered it that many of the items on the platter can be purchased at Whole Foods in larger (and likely more cost effective) quantities. Mrs. Chow really liked the taramasalata, which is a whipped salmon roe and citrus combo (bottom left most scoop in the picture on the left). My favorite was the ktipiti, which is a nice blend of roasted red peppers, feta, and thyme. Both these items aren’t available at Whole Foods. But the tzatziki, hummus, and crazy feta is. So if you enjoy any of these, just stop at the Whole Food on the next block and buy yourself a bigger container.
Spicy Mussels: As with most of the Mediterranean restaurants I visit, I usually order a mussel dish of some sort. This time it was the Spicy Mussels. There were plenty of mussels in the dish and it definitely had a nice kick to it. The mussels were tender and easy to eat. But be warned, the sauce base could be a bit salty if you decided to dip bread or take a sip from it.
Greek Donuts: Oh the Greeks and their amazing donuts. Mrs. Chow and I remember VERY fondly the Greek donuts from our honeymoon trip that stopped off in Mykonos. Based on that memory we decided to give Cava’s “Greek donuts” a try. We were SORELY DISAPPOINTED. The true Greek donuts we had in Mykonos were the size of golf balls, drizzled in honey, topped with chopped walnuts, and sprinkled with powered sugar. As you can see below, these Cava “Greek donuts” were the size of a tennis ball, barely a drizzle of honey, a random sprinkle of powered sugar, and not a chopped nut in sight. Due to the large size of these donuts, the center seemed under cooked/too mushy with the outside being a bit too dark and over fried. And due to the lack of honey and sugar, we were pretty much made to feel like we were eating a big chunk of under cooked dough. As Mrs. Chow said…..outrageballs! Mrs. Chow, usually a dessert fanatic, could only take a few bites, while I was dreaming of those true Greek Donuts with every resentful bite. I would recommend that you try another dessert option if you dine at Cava. Or you can always go to Mykonos for the real deal.
I found the Cava experience to be average. Good atmosphere, decent service, and a mixture of good and bad food. I probably wouldn’t come back here without a coupon but who knows, the menu was extensive so I might come back just to give Cava a second chance. If you want to let me know of your experience or if you have recommendations you want to send…..
2940 Clarendon Blvd
Arlington, VA 22201