Tapas is a classic holiday food favourite, though it can be difficult to find authentic versions outside Spain. With places like Salamanca and Tapas de Lola seen as popular options in Dublin, is there a justification for another restaurant offering Spanish cuisine in the city’s centre?
Located on Camden Street, one of Dublin’s main restaurant districts, Cava has opened in the last few months to positive reviews. Part of a chain of The Port House restaurants chain, Cava is part wine bar, part tapas, with a dark colour scheme and candlelit tables offering an intimate dining experience. As I arrived there with two friends, the restaurant was filled with gals catching up over dinner and wine, as well as couples on dates and larger groups of friends and colleagues.
“The seafood selection was plentiful, as too was the variety of cheese dishes they had, which delighted my company”
We were seated immediately at 5.30 pm and the service was excellent from the beginning; this isn’t the kind of place where they’ll ask you for the table back in an hour or so. Cava exudes an easygoing vibe. We ordered a bottle of the house wine at €28 and spent 20 minutes poring over the extensive menu, which included vegetarian options. The seafood selection was plentiful, as too was the variety of cheese dishes they had, which delighted my company. We had four tapas each, sampling most of the menu and sharing every last bit. Our selections included: the Manchego burger, Tetilla Templada (deep-fried cheese), and Pepito Sollomillo (mini steak). I ordered the Pollo Ajillo (a garlic, parsley, and chicken dish), a recommendation from our waitress, accompanied with Paella de Marisco which was a seafood paella and Berenja con Hummus — aubergine tempura with hummus. All the dishes were tasty, particularly the Pollo Ajillo which is a must-try for those unafraid of garlic. Each dish was under €8, and although small, in traditional tapas-style, it did not feel stingy. The joy of eating tapas is that you can try many dishes for lower prices, and sharing among your dinner companions is an essential part of the process.
Our desserts were equally excellent. All of us went for options specific to Spanish and Portuguese cuisine, such as churros and pastéis de nata, both of which were €5.95. The pastéis de nata were exactly the same as the authentic version of the pastries I had eaten from Belem in Lisbon.
At €33.45 each for three people, including four tapas dishes each, a bottle of wine and three deserts, the price was entirely reasonable. This tapas restaurant has raised the bar — if you feel like treating yourself any time soon, get to Cava for some well-executed indulgence.