For my birthday dinner Greg took me out to Cava in Rockville. Cava is a cool little spot to get some really great Greek mezze (small plates like tapas). I really enjoy the idea of small plates versus large entrees because you can get a little taste of several different dishes and it can be a little less filling. Can be. We ended up ordering 4 mezze (I think they recommend like 2-3 per person) and I left feeling VERY full. Cava, which means cave in Greek, has a really cool interior and chic lounge-like feel to it. The lighting is low and the decor is wine cellar-esque. The food is modern Greek, so it’s fun and different but also doesn’t veer off too much from the traditional Greek dishes that everyone loves. It’s a nice balance and a really great idea for a restaurant! The Rockville location is in a strip mall so parking was abundant and easy.
Cava does not take reservations, but we were able to get a table right away (by the time we had finished, around 8 or so, people were waiting). Once we sat down, the server brought over a basket of toasted flat bread and a trio of olive oil, sun dried tomato tapenade and some kalmata olives. Everything tasted fresh and delicious and I always love when restaurants give you something to munch on while you peruse the menu. We went on a Monday night, which was half price martini night. As I mentioned, it was my birthday so there was no excuse not to get one! I got the “Van Gogh Mango”, which was Finlandia mango vodka, mango liquor, and orange juice. It was super tasty, but not very strong so I only got one. I’m glad it was only half price.
As we began to look at the menu a waiter lit a plate of cheese on fire at the table next to us (/practically on our laps– the restaurant is tiny!). We knew immediately that we’d be getting that. Flaming cheese, yes please! It must be one of their most popular dishes as we saw cheese being set on fire several more times throughout our dinner. I definitely recommend this dish. I can’t remember exactly what type of cheese it was, possibly cypriot, but it had a mozzarella-type consistency and so it was creamy, slightly stringy, and maintained a nice golden brown “crust” upon being engulfed in flames. It was really, really good.
We decided upon three more mezze and thought we could order more if needed. As mentioned previously, this was not needed, though we did eat up everything we were given. We ordered lamb stew, braised beef, and scallops mushroom risotto. The lamb stew was lamb that had been, you guessed it, stewed, in a tomato broth and was served over orzo. The braised beef was served over french fries with a sprinkle of feta cheese on top and the scallops were served over mushroom risotto. The stewed lamb and braised beef had similar flavors and textures. They were both perfectly cooked and tasted traditionally Greek with cinnamon hues throughout. They weren’t particularly amazing, but tasted good and homey. The scallop dish was a little disappointing as the scallops appeared to be deep fried as opposed to seared. Though I usually enjoy deep fried foods, scallops are not so good prepared in this way. I ‘d much prefer a good sear to a deep fry for my scallops and they were a little on the dry/rubbery side. They were served atop a delicious mushroom risotto that was creamy and soft, which made it all better.
All of the food served to us was very tasty but also extremely salty. We went through a lot of water! There were also very few mezze options that included vegetables. It’s more of a meat and starch focused menu. Though the plates are labeled as “small” the portions are actually very respectable and pretty big. The scallop dish, for example, came with four scallops and a large bowl of risotto. Overall, it was an enjoyable dinner though and was certainly a special treat.