Monday, September 12, 2011

Cava Mezze's Spicy Balls

Dip Sampler at Clarendon's Cava Mezze

With all the buzz about Ben and Jerry's release of Schweddy Balls ice cream, I found it an amusing coincidence that the majority of items we ordered this past Friday at Cava Mezze came in spherical form. 

As the name suggests, Cava Mezze's speciality is small plates of Greek-style tapas.   The Clarendon location is the third and latest branch of this burgeoning micro-chain, but last Friday was my first experience.  I am half-Greek, and while I have always enjoyed lamb prepared by my grandmother on Easter and Mediterranean food in general, I have found oftentimes Greek cooking to be relatively bland, with earthy flavors, but not a lot of heat.  I realized I have been eating at the wrong places--none of the dishes we tried at Cava was in the least bit bland.  Every dish--from the mac and cheese to lamb meatballs--had a lively personality all its own. 

The dip sampler consisted of six orbs of unique dips, whose ingredients included salty feta, jalapenos, and red pepper.  The calamari, pepped up with banana peppers and tempered with a cucumber yogurt sauce, was reminiscent of one of my favorite Greek-influenced Providence College haunts.  Zucchini fritters were in the form of what else but balls.  These two-bite explosions, the star of the evening, combined thin shreds of the vegetable with gooey cheese, which were  then rolled and fried to a crisp.

And it was not only the balls that were spicy.  My cucumber jalapeno margarita was refreshingly intense--the cucumber put out the fire of the drink's slight burning burst.  This $9 cocktail was excellent, and I point this out because while a new micro-brew tap house springs up seemingly weekly along the Rossyln-Ballston corridor, finding a well-crafted cocktail generally requires heading over the river into DC.

Cava Mezze's flavorful dishes, potent drinks, and sleek dining space is a welcome addition to the Clarendon dining scene.  Just be forewarned, the volume inside is impossibly loud.  Hopefully, soundproofing is installed soon, as the volume level is not sustainable for patrons, let alone the waitstaff.  But, oh those spicy balls...

Cava Mezze Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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