Lunch with Louie at the Cava
Santa Barbara food reviews with Louie the pessimist food critic
Apr 14, 8:51 PM (PT)
Carlito's Café and Cantina has a rich cousin that opened a restaurant in Montecito and they call it Cava (more on the Cava name later). Basically, the well designed and thought out menu is similar to Carlito’s menu with a few changes designed to give the restaurant more of a Spanish flair. They have added some tapas and paella, so now they are a little more Continental and can raise their prices accordingly.
I question some of the items as being actually Spanish - you know Spain, the Iberian Peninsula. For instance, “guacamole with tortilla chips”, or “taquitos de tinga”, which are corn tortillas with a chipotle flavored stuffing of beef or chicken, or for that matter some grilled Anaheim chiles with queso fresco, etc, etc, etc. I have never encountered any of those tapas on my innumerable trips to Spain, but what the heck, they just got mixed up a little and we’ll see what happens. These gringos don’t know too much anyway.
The place is very attractive with a nice patio overlooking Coast Village Road, lots of Spanish tiles, a nice bar with an accent of soccer (good idea), and a very friendly and good-looking staff. The clientele is very shi-shi and very Montecito looking with the exception of a couple of schmucks with the self imposed title of food critic, they being Ed and I.
We ordered like we had just won the lottery, or at least a Pick Six at the racetrack. We ordered Halibut with a potato crust and two soft chicken tacos with rice and beans. That’s right, you’d better win something at the track, because the tacos are 13.00 bucks, and the halibut is 17.50. That’s for lunch, buddy! At dinner, prices go up.
Next to us sat a lady who hadn’t stopped with her cell phone since she came in. The conversation involved, in its entirety, the subject of a flourless chocolate cake. Twenty-five minutes of flourless chocolate cake for “this party that is coming up, and believe me, I am going to do it and it will be flourless.” Fine. Just do it. And, please will somebody bring her her food so she shuts up? I am not ready for her dessert. Her food comes and she stops her yapping instantaneously. I was really curious to see what the chocolate lady had ordered, but the only thing I could decipher was an order of flour tortillas and a dish the size of the State of Illinois crowned with a piece of salmon. Many ingredients were definitely involved since it was very hard to figure out where it started or ended. It really didn’t matter to our flourless lady. Once the cell phone disappeared, it was only a matter of minutes before the State Of Illinois went to its final rest. She was a voracious creature who dismissed all the hard work it took for the chef to create that elevator effect, and whose ultimate goal was to get back to the cell phone and continue with the creation and eventual consumption of that flourless chocolate cake.
The halibut came with a quarter of a red onion on the side, a quarter of an ear of corn, and a quarter pound of mash potatoes. Some of the fish was a little fishy and some was not. The onion was untouched and enormous. Let’s face it, how do you eat a giant piece of onion? And the tiny piece of barbequed corn looked as if it was suffering from a little bit of anorexia and loneliness. Corn Prozac - why not?
The chicken tacos were just that, soft chicken tacos with rice and beans on the side. A little mole sauce on top was probably an attempt to justify the price. I don’t like mole and actually, I can’t figure out, considering that I don’t like it, why I ordered it. Well, we all make these kinds of mistakes.
Even though the place is beautiful, wonderfully decorated, the menu designed to perfection and the service outstanding, one is left with an uninspired feeling, like something was definitely missing and you have just left someplace very mundane.
I asked one of the hostesses what Cava means, and she responded that Cava means "wine" or "related to wine". And the reason they named the place Cava is because they are so into wine, and their wine list is oh-so diversified and interesting. Say What? Cava is in fact a Spanish sparkling wine. It’s a low-priced alternative to Champagne. Freixenet is a Cava. Cava is also from the verb “cavar”, meaning, “to dig”. And you’d better do some digging in your wallet when it comes time to pay.
Uno de estos dias vamos a encontrar un restaurante realmente fantastico en Santa Barbara, cuando lo hagamos ustedes seran los primeros en saberlo. Muchos besos y abrazos de quien los adora.
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