We’ve mentioned the eat.shop guides (now The HUNT Guides) a few times before. They’ve consistently shown us to some of our favorite places in New England and elsewhere, and this time, pointing us in the direction of Cava, in Portsmouth, turned out to not be any different – another stylish, fun, and delicious suggestion to add to our list.
When Meredith first saw Cava, tucked down it’s bricked, alley side street, with it’s ivy-clad outdoor patio and minimal branding, it immediately won her over. Seemingly every warm evening last summer, we’d debate whether or not we should make the drive down to Portsmouth to enjoy a dinner outside, but as it always seems to happen with summers in Maine, we blinked and the weather had turned cold. By the time Portsmouth’s Restaurant Week rolled around a couple of weeks ago, and we saw the creative offerings of the four course menu for Cava, we decided that it was time to stop procrastinating and start eating.
After a quick stop into the always-awesome Gus & Ruby, where the shelves were stocked with holiday goodness, Meredith and I grabbed our seats, and started preparing for the upcoming tastiness. Meredith ordered a Manhattan and I opted for an Old Fashioned to start. Our courses were as follows: Mere had the butternut squash soup with chocolate, marshmallow, and cinnamon, the brussel sprouts with butternut squash, pomegranate, and chestnut, the delightful mushroom course with foraged mushrooms, burgundy truffle, porcini porridge, and chard, and topped it all off with the queso de Valdeón with concord grape and honey comb. I ordered the beef tartar with quail egg and truffle, the braised rabbit with bacon, cider lentils, and apple, the moxie braised beef short rib with sweet potato and graham cracker, and the decadent Kristin’s famous churros with “hot chocolate”. Phew, that was a mouthful (and bellyful)! Every course was inventive and impeccably well prepared, but a few really stood out to the both of us. Meredith’s butternut squash soup used the chocolate, marshmallow, and cinnamon to add a pleasant twist to a comfort food staple, and anything with a quail egg gets a +1 in my book. It should probably be mentioned that we almost ended up in fisticuffs over the churros – I’d consider the drive back down just for dessert!
We’re always looking forward to our next trip down to Portsmouth, and although there are still so many places we have left to try, it’ll be hard to ignore the pull of the outdoor seating at Cava as the weather gets warmer.