It’s not always easy to decide what to do on New Year’s Eve- go out, or stay in? Last night my girlfriend and I and another couple decided to go to a club/restaurant in the Strip named Cavo. Cavo is a relatively new business, which was evident when I walked through the doors at 7pm.
The club was still coming together- Cavo employees were running about hurriedly preparing for what was to be a huge night. I walked to the back of the restaurant and noticed carpenters trying to finish up some work on the main dance floor. Cavo is palatial- huge in fact. In addition to the main dining room, there’s a massive dance floor with a booming sound system, several rooms on a second floor with VIP seating areas, and two additional bars. The second floor also provides an excellent view of the dance floor if you’re interested in people-watching.
Our table for the evening was located near the front door. Every time someone entered the club, large squalls of 30 degree wind engulfed our table.
We opted for the 7-course Prix Fixe Menu at $70.00 per person. The food came paired with a myriad of wines. We had some really great white and red wines throughout the meal- and a sweet digestif accompanied our dessert course.
Thyme Hummus with Cucumber Pearl with Crispy Sweet Potatoes
An interesting choice for such a cold evening- the thyme hummus was well-seasoned and had a nice flavor. Gelatinous cucumber pearls added an interesting texture component, unfortunately the crispy sweet potatoes were over cooked and ice cold.
Arugula Salad with Panko, Pecan, Fennel and Dried Orange
Arugula is one of my favorite types of veggies- the peppery-zing always wakes up my taste buds. We were a bit confused by this salad- it was served on a teeny plate and was topped with Japanese bread crumbs. There was little or no acid in the dressing- all we could taste was oil.
Salmon Tartare with Blood Orange Edamame Cream and Seasoned Rice
The salmon tartare had an interesting texture, but I would have like to have smaller, symmetrical cuts of the fish. The blood orange added a nice tang, and much needed acid that enhanced the flavor. The edamame cream had potential, but lacked seasoning. The rice was crunchy and undercooked.
King Crab with Potato with Miso Cream, Caviar and Scallion
This was one of my favorite courses- it was uncomplicated and delicious. Lump crab served atop a small piece of fried potato- bite-sized and easy to eat. The crab was sweet- a nice canapé overall.
Duck Confit Croquet with Polenta and Poblano Mint Crème, Duck Breast with Lentils, Roasted Cranberry and Cranberrry Vinaigrette
I really enjoyed the croquet- it was cooked a perfect golden-brown, and was bursting with flavor. The duck breasts were sliced thin, and regrettably cold by the time they reached our table. The poblano mint crème sauce was interesting, and not necessarily the right choice for duck. The cranberry vinaigrette was sweet and worked well with the poultry.
Pork Belly Ravioli with Butternut Squash and Grilled Scallion, Pork Loin with Pretzel, Brocolinni, Framboise Reduction
The pork belly ravioli was deep-fried and quite tasty. The pork loin was cook medium, and the framboise reduction brought out the natural sweetness of the pork.
Lamb Ragout with Sweet Potato Gnocchi and Queso Fresco, Lamb Chop with Cabbage, Chili and Poblano Pesto
My first bit of this dish was of the lamb ragout and sweet potato gnocchi. The gnocchi was flavorful as was the ragout. My lamb was well-done, but still good. The cabbage, or kimchi, was explosively hot and took away from the delicateness of the lamb.
Beef Oxtail Risotto with Manchego , Shiitake, Truffle, and Cherry- Filet Mignon with Asparagus, Almond and Orange Cognac
The beef oxtail risotto had real potential, but was undercooked. The filet mignon was flavorful; a longer sear of the meat would have provided an additional layer of flavor. The orange cognac sauce was buttery and fragrant.
A small truffle coated in cocoa powder appeared before us with a small square of cake with a sweet sauce and blueberries. The truffle was hard and difficult to eat- a velvety ganache would have been more palatable. The cake with fresh berries provided a good conclusion to our meal.
By the time we left there were hoards of partiers in the club ready to celebrate the New Year. The walls were shaking, and the lines at the bar were five deep. Reflecting on our food… a less complicated, more cohesive meal would have been better for the occasion. The young chef at Cavo has some obvious talent, but may need to rein his dishes in a bit and work on flavor/texture combinations.
Cavo is the hottest new club in Pittsburgh- if you love loud house music and beautiful people it’s worth checking out.
Chef Chuck Kerber