Friday, November 27, 2015

Clarendon: Cava Mezze Brunch

Image Map
It's been awhile since bottomless brunch has happened. While I love them, they tend to get a littleeeee crazy. This trip was no exception and made for a wonderful Saturday. Not feeling like heading into DC, we decided on Cava Mezze in Clarendon - a place many of us have been for dinner and loved.

Totally unlike myself, I didn't plan ahead and make a reservation. Luckily Cava was extremely accommodating when we called the morning of and managed to fit us in.  

Often times for bottomless food there are a lot of hit and misses, but Cava kept up to it's standard and delivered mostly hits which is extremely impressive. Between all 8 of us, I think we managed to try everything on the menu. I love my friends and their willingness to share. I tried all 3 mimosas (OJ, grapefruit, apple cider) and the Grapefruit was my favorite. The table was split between the 3. 
Hands down my favorite savory option was the SPICY LAMB BENEDICT poached egg | spicy lamb $8. It was the first thing that caught my eye, and it was everything I thought it would be and more. It was spiced well, had a nice kick and the perfectly poached egg went incredibly well with it. The second photo is their CLASSIC BENEDICT poached egg | canadian bacon | tomato | hollandaise $8. A classically delicious benedict that will not let you down.
The VILLAGE FRITATTA spinach | feta | leeks | green onion $7 had the potential for greatness but unfortunately whoever prepared this had a heavy hand with the salt and it was borderline inedible. Prepared with the appropriate amount of salt. Although not for everyone because of it's fattiness, if it's your thing, then the PORK BELLY & EGGS poached egg | pancetta | hollandaise $7 is the dish for you. Pork belly, pancetta, poached eggs - enough said.
We LOVED all the sweet options for brunch. NUTELLA WAFFLE walnuts | nutella | bananas | cream $8. You can't go wrong with Nutella or a waffle, and come on, just look at the below picture and tell me it doesn't look good. FRENCH TOAST thick cut challah | honey |  berries | cream $6. Thick cut challah is the way to go, french toast normally isn't my thing but we ordered this multiple times - it's hard to explain, but the bread burst in your mouth with every bite. I can't find the description online, but the Greek Yogurt, Fruit and Granola was a surprising favorite. I love a think, tangy, Greek yogurt and this stayed true to its form, allowing the sweetness to come from the fruit and granola. This option almost took away the guilt of all of the other items consumed. BANANA FRITTERS honey | walnuts | sugar $9. If I am going to eat a banana, it needs to be served fried and drizzled with honey and sugar. 
There were only a few dishes that we did not enjoy. The first being the CAVA HOME FRIES potato | tomato | onion | basil | mushroom 6 which were unfortunately on most plates. After initially trying this, we did not touch the potatoes for the rest of the meal. The second was the CHICKEN SAGE SAUSAGE house made chicken sausage | sage 7. I love sage breakfast sausage but this was just not good. Important to note, their "grilled cheese" was a huge let down, not necessarily because it was bad, but because it was a pita with cheese on it…not a grilled cheese. 
We tried everything else on the menu and can recommend everything but the potatoes and sausage. 

Sometimes service can be a bit spotty for bottomless brunch but Cava managed to keep it going with large, slightly obnoxious groups of people - keeping the mimosas flowing and the food a coming. They do have a two hour time limit, which let's be real, is probably best for everyone.

For vegetarian friends, there are not many light options (as in 90% were carb heavy), but if you are not concerned about that, then you will be fine! 

Would I come back? Yes, I am pretty much in love with Cava Mezze and Cave Mezze Grill. This has got to be one of my favorite overall brunch food experiences in awhile. 

2940 Clarendon Blvd
Arlington, VA
Clarendon Metro
Cava Mezze Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Other Bottomless Brunches I enjoy
PJ Clarkes
El Centro 
Acre 121

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Arlington: New Dishes and a Taste of California Pizza Kitchen

I was recently invited to the California Pizza Kitchen in Pentagon City to try the fall menu and see this locations transformation into "The Next Chapter." The emphasis is on utilizing in season ingredients that are locally sourced when possible as well as changing the interior to be aesthetically pleasing, having a light, airy, California kind of look. CPK wants to move away from the chain look, so no two restaurants will look the same.

What is funny about this dinner is that most of the dishes I tried all had components that I am not a huge fan of...mushrooms, butternut squash and blue cheese. Even with those additions to the dishes, I really enjoyed everything I tried. It just goes to show you that you should go outside of your box sometimes - things could be prepared a different way and you might actually like it! 

CPK boasts a wonderful cocktail menu, in fact I dedicated a separate post to them because they are that delicious. You just need to pick your poison and then select a cocktail that contains it, you can't go wrong. My favorite was the California Dream Roots (made with avocado...sounds weird but super delicious).
To start off our meal we had the Brussels + Bacon Flatbread and the Harvest Kale Salad

Oh this flat bread - there really isn't more to say other than caramelized onions and bacon. Throw on some crispy brussels and a little cheese and you have a magical dish. 

There were a lot of different textures of the salad but they all blended together nicely. The tanginess of the goat cheese brought all the different components together and I really loved the freshness and variety of the flavors. If you are trying to be healthy - I recommend getting this salad and adding on some protein (chicken, shrimp or salmon).
I got to sample two of their pizzas - Mushroom, Pepperoni and Sausage Pizza cremini mushrooms, rustic pepperoni, spicy italian sausage, mozzarella and wild oregano and Wild Mushroom Pizza shaved cremini, shitake, portabella and white mushrooms with slivered scallions, cracked black pepper, pecorino romano and mozzarella, finished with parmesan + the optional white truffle oil

This is where I started to get really nervous at the dinner...both pizzas had mushrooms - but like a good food blogger, I tried them and found out when mushrooms are shaved, I don't mind the texture as much. I really liked the Mushroom, Pepperoni and Sausage Pizza. The spices in the pepperoni and sausage were amazing (they cure their own pepperoni, and then its shaved and torn onto the pizza-well worth it) - with a finish of wild oregano which really takes it up a notch. 

The Wild Mushroom Pizza had great flavor - and an added freshness with the spring onions. If you are a mushroom lover, then this is your pizza - with four different types, they are packed on. The addition of truffle oil is necessary, I just love its aroma. 

On a side note - both pizzas tasted good reheated in the toaster oven for breakfast the next morning - winning! 
In all the years I have been coming here, I have never looked past the pizza and salad menu (BBQ chicken pizza has my heart). It is now time to start looking past pizza (it pains me to say) and try some of their entrees. Hearth Roasted Halibut Wild caught halibut roasted on a cedar plank with grilled asparagus and butternut squash farro & baby kale and Fire-Grilled Ribeye 12oz USDA choice ribeye grilled with housemade Pinot Noir salt and topped with creamy bleu cheese butter, served with roasted fingerling potatoes and lemon-garlic arugula salad were the two I got to try. 

The halibut was cooked well, and I really liked the Parmesan, paprika farro. There were no overpowering flavors, everything blended well together. This was a favorite dish of one of my friends. 

I am a meat and potatoes kinda gal and have gotten really into compound butters lately so this dish was right up my ally. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare and the tang from the blue cheese was just enough for me. I brought the leftovers to my friends and they thought that butter could have used more flavor. We all agreed that the potatoes were amazing, perfectly cooked and the seasoning was on point. 
Salted Caramel Pudding rich caramel pudding, black cocoa cookie crumbs, housemade whipped cream, caramel sauce and natural flaked sea salt. It's not often you see pudding on a dessert menu but wow, am I glad they added this. The combination of flavors (sweet, salty, rich) and textures (smooth, crunchy, whipped (fluffy) and light) made this an extremely decadent and swoon worthy treat. I actually took one of the home because I liked it so much and two of the guys I shared it with later ate it up. <I just checked out their website….the have a s'mores pudding jar….must try in the very near future>
Butter Cake - I really enjoyed the flavors and textures of this cake. There was a layer of caramelized sugar on the outside which added a nice, sweet crunch to the cake. 
Now for the reallyyyy exciting part...I learned how to toss pizza dough and was taught by BRIAN. Yes, yes...I know, I should quit my day job and go into pizza making.  
Basically, the bottom line is you need to get yourself into CPK soon and try one of their new fall items. Some of Brian's favorites are the Jamaican Pizza or the Kung Pao spaghetti...which are now on my list to try very soon. 

Another important thing to note is that CPK wants you to try new items. They have a policy set where you can order something new...and if you don't like it, they will replace it with your usual. It doesn't get much better then that! 

1201 South Hayes Street
Arlington, VA
Metro: Pentagon City 
California Pizza Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

  Image Map