Ca Va

My wife is friends with Mark Hannon, who is the chef over at Ca Va. We came in initially to try out restaurant week, but Mark had something else in store for us. Something amazing.

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Mark grew up with a chef for a dad, so it only seemed natural for him to follow in his footsteps. He spent some time running kitchens at some of Thailand’s nicest hotels, and he got close with Todd English over the course of about a decade of working for him. He married an Australian chef, and is now back here in NYC, where he was essentially given free reign over the contents of the Ca Va menu (aside from a few things that needed to stay on or be done a certain way). Since taking the helm at Ca Va in the last moth or so, reviews and diners’ reactions have changed in a significantly positive way. When you see what I have to say below you’ll understand why.

First we ordered a couple of cocktails that were really nicely prepared.

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Then, before we knew it, this really cool stand of deviled eggs with caviar and winter truffle came out. It was delicious. Creamy, earthy – a perfect way to start the meal.

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Next was escargot with fried sea beans, some interesting purees, stuffed snail shells and crisp ham. The crispy ham was a great way to add a little salt into the dish, and the snails were perfect – soft, tender, buttery.

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Next was grilled octopus with cannelini beans, chorizo and dehydrated olive powder. We’ve been having a lot of grilled octopus lately, and this dish sits among the best of them. So tender and juicy. I cleaned this plate off so well it was shining like a mirror when I was done.

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Next came kale salad with goat cheese mousse, fava beans, dehydrated prosciutto, radish and snow peas. The big star here was the potato chip-like dehydrated prosciutto. Instantly my mind was imagining bags upon bags of them being consumed while watching movies at home on the couch. Fucking delightful.

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Then came a scallop dish. It was seared perfectly and garnished with a trail of mushroom dirt (mushroom, shallot, almond flour, dextrose, garlic) and truffles, topped with caviar, and sitting atop asparagus and braised pulled oxtail. Holy shit. This was insane! This represents the best scallop I’ve ever eaten. Mark blew it out of the water.

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Next was, by far, the most interesting plate of food of the night and possibly of the year. Duck breast and seared fois gras with toasted marshmallows, chocolate sauce, peanuts, cinnamon, huckleberries and roasted kale sprouts. It was savory yet sweet, but not too sweet, which is what you might expect when you see the stuff listed above. Combining the elements with the duck really made for some taste bud-awakening flavors.

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Oh yeah baby – here it comes. Aged New York strip with tangy mustard potato salad and bone marrow powder, drizzled with a bone marrow bordelaise. Let’s just say that the meat man went home a very happy dude. Perfectly cooked to medium rare, sliced and plated beautifully, TONS of flavor and juiciness.

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The first dessert was a bread pudding. I have a pic of the ingredients here but I was embarrassed about whipping out the cell phone camera to shoot the plate because Mark was sitting and chatting with us as we ate this course. I would’ve felt like a d-bag sticking my camera in his food instead of just eating it. It was great. Lots of times the texture of bread pudding isn’t right. Either the soak doesn’t hit all the bread and you get some bricks in there, or you are really just eating it for the sauces and toppings. This bread pudding was different. I usually don’t like white chocolate but I loved every bite of it here. The bread pudding itself was very silky and smooth, with really nice texture.

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Last came a little plate of cookies and chocolates. The cookies were great, made in-house. The chocolates were pretty good too, nice and rich, but not made in-house.

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Jordan, our waiter, was really great. We made sure to give him a good tip seeing as though he had to deal with us for about three hours.

CA VA
310 W. 44th St.
New York, NY 10036

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