Cav Wine Bar and Kitchen

1666 Market Street b/t Franklin and Gough
phone: 415.437.1770
hours: Mon-Thurs 5:30-11pm, Fri-Sat 5:30-Midnight
Full Bar

Great wines, wonderful menu, cool comfortable environment, an insidious staff, and mild food poisoning sum up my experience. We sat at the bar and enjoyed wine and small plates, so this review does not encompass the full dinner experience.

The Ambience:
Disguised behind a small windowed entry, Cav unfolds into a larger uniquely shaped, white space highlighted by red accents. A large, funky cork art piece lines the restaurant wall, while a chalkboard wall sets off the aluminum bar. Chic and airy, it's cool and comfortable without being cozy.

They played older, popular rock music from an ipod, which completely undercut the environment. The restaurant is more suited to jazz or downtempo, and it was surprising that an establishment clearly paying such attention to detail didn't factor music into their planning.

The Menu:
They offer an extensive, exquisite wine list (325 wines from 18 countries and 70 regions) at various prices. Cav also has a nice port selection. I suspect you can't go wrong with any of their wines.

Small and large plates of extremely creative dishes are offered, as well as an extensive cheese menu. Full menu available on the website.

The Food:
The cheese plate was offset by perfect figs, walnuts and fruit. Presentation was exceptional, and the cheeses were perfection. The charcuterie platter was intense, and despite a concerted effort, my palette simply could not enjoy the aftertaste of these particularly buttery meats.

Eight hours later, I was vomiting.

The Service:
The bartender was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. His professional banter with customers led him to lag in service, but we were in no rush.

Though we didn't order it, he poured us a delicious taster of Riesling to pair with our Danish blue cheese. He brought us another paired taster to go with our charcuterie platter.

Turns out, we were charged for the second one, which is a completely underhanded and sleazy maneuver.

We had some nice Graham port after eating, and we probably would have ordered a second round if he didn't clear our empty glasses and walk away to talk to the staff. As he brought our check, he mentioned the bar "stays open as long as there are customers," but I got the impression present company was excluded.

While sitting at the bar, the kitchen staff came out and coldly asked us to move over. They didn't thank us, and in the end, we felt we were being silently and rudely ushered out from all angles.

I called the restaurant the next day to tell them I had been sick from their charcuterie platter the night before. The woman I spoke with allowed no possibility for this to be true. She told me eight hours was too long for food poisoning to set in (In truth, food poisoning incubation periods vary greatly, from a few hours to a few days.) She was snippy and annoyed with my call, telling me that it was "probably the flu."

Reservations: Requested, but not necessary

Overall: D

It wasn't the flu, I'd avoid the charcuterie and be very wary of the upselling staff. Overall, Cav has promise, but in the end, they utterly failed.

Reviewed : Sept 2006

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