Cava, Capitol Hill- it’s good way before the ouzo, even better after.
A friend of mine and his super sweet girlfriend live on Capitol Hill and agreed to a dinner with us, so we decided to go somewhere on the Hill. Then another of our favorite couples decided to join. I don’t think they realize how super convenient it is to go from Arlington to Capitol Hill, but it really isn’t too bad. Just hop over the TR bridge and head down Independence Avenue. (Don’t tell them I said it is convenient- I love my Arlington eats)
I just couldn’t decide where to eat- I love Matchbox- really I am a bit addicted. I have never been to Belga, but the menu just wasn’t calling to me like our other choice: Cava a Greek tapas restaurant that I heard a lot of good things about. Even though a member of our party gets good Greek food all the time we were won over by the amount of outdoor seating and it being the shortest wait for an outdoor table and his very polite acquiessence to all of us who don’t get his Mother’s home cooking.
We got our buzzer and went to Matchbox for a drink- a good thing to know is that Cava’s buzzer works there. I got a ginger cocktail that was pretty sweet, but gingery in a lovely way. I have been on an amazing ginger kick lately, and I have a sweet tooth so it really hit the spot for me.
Our buzzer went off and we headed for a lovely outdoor table at Cava, right here in front of the open space (they also have a nice patio upstairs).
We started with bottles of Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc, as white non-chardonnay was requested. A very nice white with strong fruit, but a very smooth finish and not to sweet or crisp, but not too oaky or buttery like a chardonnay.
Out came pita which was good, but nowhere near Zaytinya, Lebanese Taverna or Me Janna pita. I really like my pita like a good french baguette a little crisp on the outside but soft and tender within. The pita came with a spicy red pepper tapenade, olive oil and olives, which was refilled gratis upon request, a nice touch.
We then had the tough decision about ordering. Going to a new tapas place it is always difficult to judge the amount of food to order, so we thought about two dishes per person, with a couple of us extra hungry people ordering four, or three. Our waiter very nicely told us when to stop. I appreciate the honesty and the advice turned out to be right on.
The list of things I sampled:
Calamari- the sauce was unexpectedly spicy in a very good way, the squid was not over battered, but had a nice coating, I really enjoyed this version. Not amazingly different in any way, but very good, and a crowd pleaser after a drink or two.
Hummus- good, not as good as Lebanese Taverna Market or Tarbouch (they have very creamy hummus with a good tang that not a lot of other hummus can top for me), but this one came close.
Sauteed Squash- good flavor, but a tad bit undercooked for me, I like mine a bit more cooked, especially with larger squash as the skin is a bit firmer.
Sparraggia- we had two orders of this and it was great. I loved the lemon with the feta with perfectly grilled asparagus, not to crisp, but held it’s shape and flavor. Really a nice choice for a veggie- if you wanted something a bit healthier than we were going for without the feta it would be a great healthy veggie side.
Lollipop Filet- this was excellent, the filet was cooked about medium, but not on the hard medium side, the shrimp had great flavor not over or undercooked, it had a ncie mix of tomato and feta.
Pork Souvlaki- nice grilled pork, still tender, but the grill flavor was really nice.
Filet Souvlaki- also very good, simple grilled steak that tasted very nice, still very tender.
Opa Opa shrimp- I don’t think we actually ordered this, if we did we couldn’t remember but the server insisted it was ours so we ate it and it was good. I was happy with so much shrimp that it all was cooked well and seasoned nicely.
Grilled Scallops- These were a highlight, nicely cooked with a good balance of acid.
Last but not least comes the short ribs, which are a high end version of chili cheese fries for me. Braised short rib with cinnamon and burgundy, fries, feta all piled up. This was the perfect- I have had a cocktail and a good bit of wine- last dish for me.
The boys ended with Ouzo which us ladies declined, probably best.
All in all it was a nice evening, we will definitely go back as we were happy with the food, the service and the ambiance. Cava is date night dark inside, very moody, which I like. I think it gives it good character.
A good bit of dishes had feta, but that could have been our ordering, and we could have requested without but it was very nice feta, not dry at all and very tangy and flavorful, it also had a nice creamy texture, but wasn’t melted on the hot dishes, a characteristic I really liked about it as I don’t normally care for really melted cheese.
The biggest perk is the large amount of outdoor seating, which is a big bonus in the DC area. The outside seating is really nice here. You aren’t too close to the road, you aren’t cramped, but there is good people watching, it is just right.
They were also very accomodating for our group of six. And I would say this restaurant is a really good choice for a group as the tapa portions are generous, which allows you to share and still get enough food, while the prices aren’t too expensive so you aren’t feeling gouged by the check.
There are beautiful photo galleries of their food here, which allowed me not to be the geek that takes pictures of her food all night. And the food really looks similar when ordered, no bait and switch. So thanks Cava for a really nice night out.