Monday, November 4, 2013

Cava Mezze

My husband and I wandered sadly through our local shopping mall during our date last Saturday night. We had neglected to make reservations at our favorite eatery and couldn’t face the hour long wait before we were seated for dinner. We stopped to consult the directory, hoping for a new option, and asked each other “What’s Cava Mezze Grill?” My husband guessed a Spanish tapas bar since Cava is a type of wine from Spain he likes and mezze usually means small plates. We've enjoyed tapas in the past so off we went to check it out. 

Cava Mezze is not a tapas bar nor is it exactly small plates. It’s actually something much better for two adults who frequently eat out with a three year old. It is a local chain quick service restaurant in the Chipotle model but with Mediterranean style food instead of burritos. Your meal is assembled before your eyes as you select options from starches, dips, proteins, vegetables and dressings. It offers the promise of a tasty, relatively healthy meal that can be put together in minutes, before your preschooler starts screaming down the roof or attempting to play hide and seek amongst the other diner’s chairs. It also answers what my husband and I have seen as a dearth of decent Mediterranean style food in our local area that is oriented towards families. 

The restaurant's decor was stark and basic; plenty of metal and scratched up tables. I don't love the industrial look when I go out to eat although it does seem to be popular these days. I would imagine that it is easy to keep clean and tidy and that it gets people in and out quickly, so I can see the advantages from the restaurant's point of view. It's not a great ambience for a date night, but fortunately the food made up for it.

My husband ordered a large pita with a spicy feta dip, meatballs, and tabouleh. I chose two mini pitas, one with tzatziki and chicken and the other with hummus and meatballs, both with feta cheese crumbles and tomato cucumber salad. Everything was well prepared and reasonably well seasoned. The standout was the spicy feta dip which was blended into a smooth texture with a smoky chili pepper that reminded me of the hatch chilis we used to get once a year in San Antonio. Both of us were pleased with our selections and there were other items on the menu that interested us for next time.

I also liked that the restaurant posted a sign naming the (local) farms supplying their meat. Their website offers nutrition details with an excellent interface that lets you add up the values for your particular selections online. It also listed allergen information and everything is peanut free which is important to us since our daughter is allergic to peanuts. All in all, I am very excited about finding Cava Mezze Grill and we will definitely be back!