Clean and open, the staff here (and at their sister Yield in Dogpatch) really know their stuff. They have worked with some very interesting chefs over the years, and each has brought something unique and tasty which they keep, so the menu is a nice "greatest hits" of small plates, snacks and the odd entree or two. Sit along the back hallway if it's open for a quieter experience.
Long wait, badddd food. Granted this is a wine bar, but then it shouldn't serve food. We walked in the door on a Friday night, there was no one to host us until 5 minutes later. We then had to wait over an hour. This was one of the worse meals I've had. The salad left this acid taste in our mouths all night. The oh la la trio was a combo of dull finger food. The fondue had apricots as dipping food. And to top it off, after our first plate, the waitress asked if we wanted anything else, when 5 minutes ago, she had taken our order for four items.
Pretension. Although CAV boasts a very extensive list of international wines, its domestic offerings are quite limited. It may have been an off-night, but I found the staff (and especially the owner) to be quite pretentious and even bordering hostile. A bit off-putting considering my occupation (of course unrevealed to the CAV crew) as a viticulturist and winemaker in Sonoma. Apparently some in SF have not caught on to the fact that wine lost its attitude in the 90s. Still probably one of the better wine bars in SF (sadly enough). I will return to give the staff a chance at redemption... and from the other reviews, it appears I need to check out the dessert menu during my next trip.
An affair to remember.
I have fallen in love with Cav, quite deeply in fact. With so many options in SF, this unassuming diamond of an establishment is the city's best kept secret. The wine selection is phenomenal, the waitstaff down to earth, friendly and helpful-- they know everything and give consistently right-on recommendations.
The small plates and dinner choices are perfectly portioned and made with creativity and the freshest of ingredients. Although wine would be the draw for most, I must say that I have a mildly concerning addiction to the dessert menu...from gourmet beignets to snickerbar bites to earth-shattering cheeses I am hooked. However, the COCONUT CREME PUDDING has truly redefined my existence...I need 2 a week at least. Try it. It will change your life, I promise.
Vino veritas. I've lived in San Francisco for 16 years and seen many a restaurant appear and evaporate in that time. This one is a keeper! Great food. Eclectic wine list. Knowledgeable staff that will not only help guide your decisions but if you can't make one their recommendations never fail. Whether it's empty and you're the only patron or there's a line three deep at the bar, the staff makes you feel at home. I must admit to being skeptical at first. After all, Cav did open directly next to one of San Francisco's best restaurants (Zuni Cafe), but clearly the relationship is a symbiotic one. I've recommended Cav to many friends and will continue to do so.
Best Puds in town....
Being a English I appreciate the the finer things in life. Put the kettle on and have a nice cuppa; Ice lollies on Virgin Atlantic; Pigs in Space; Socks in Bed; my dogs yawn and now I can add Cav to life's wonder list. Great wine, great company and the best puds in town. If you fancy something sweet after a savoury evening out in SF, then march down to Cav and share a creamy or chocky Pud with your loved one. Better still, add a great bottle of red and you will hop scotch all the way home with a "Yeah baby" all night long.
You could say, you're English and coming from a cold, wet, grey over populated island that is renowned for bad teeth, overpriced tastless culinary delights, my standards are low. All I can say is, The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire. Cav you are up there...smashing stuff chaps. Keep it up.
Cav Caves In. Located on a decrepit section of Market at Gough, Cav is a bust. With more staff (5) than patrons (1, me), Cav is quiet as a tomb, and unless the street people suddenly develop a penchant for Cabernet, it will remain so. The wine list includes numerous choices available by the taste or the glass, but there was only one flight of paired wines. Duh. The food menu features quite a few small plates and a good selection of cheeses. Nirvana-like hard rock does nothing to enhance the experience, and the only thing one can say about the stark white walls, scattered black and white photos, and zinc-topped tables is that they will not interfere with focusing your senses on the wine. All in all, theres no reason to return. Or even go in the first place, for that matter. I'll give it 6 months before Cav caves in.
A pricey, lovely treat. Cav is one of those little gems that I'd expect to see hidden away somewhere deep in the West Village... but here it is in SF. They were out of the ruby port I wanted to try but the very patient and knowledgeable bartender (we sat at the bar) steered me towards a very yummy amontillado instead. Also, the small plates we shared were exquisitely presented, like little works of art, and delicious (and very fairly priced, I thought). The wine menu is a little on the high side, for my purse, but the experience was really enjoyable and very low-key. I'll definitely be going back for the occasional treat.
Great night out. The only tough part is no reservations. But what a great time we had. Four of us came on a Friday night after the Symphony (about 9:00pm). We waited about 15-20 minutes for seating. What impressed me the whole night was the level of service and attitudes of the wait staff. We did small plates and large and lots of wine. The wine suggestions were right on and one of our group knew her wine. We even flagged down the owner (who was very present and very approachable. The food was first rate.
Stylish wine bar amps up the Civic Center dining and drinking scene..
A long, zinc-topped bar slinks along the narrow space while test tube-shaped lights hang above. Vibrant red walls and petite votive candles warm up this otherwise ultra-minimalist boite. A well-dressed crowd fills bar stools and high and low tables. Friendly, wine-savvy staff are happy to chat up customers and give spot-on recommendations from the list of more than 300 bottles, 40 which come by the glass.
The sophisticated, reasonably priced small-plates menu is highlighted by charcuterie and crudo, and spans New American to Middle Eastern influences. Fine artisanal cheeses, such as manchego and cheddar soaked in cabernet sauvignon, make for wine-friendly bites, but it's easy to assemble a full meal from the fine tapas picks. Standouts include crispy fried anchovies, cider-glazed sugarcane shrimp with celery root ginger remoulade, and silky butternut squash gratin. Poppyseed crepes arrive stuffed with honey-infused marscapone cheese and topped with fresh whipped cream and berries.
Wine hide out. You will feel like you entered a secret club when you walk in the door because the entrance is so discreet. Once inside you will feel like it is your own secret club because the service is excellent without being overbearing. This is the perfect hide away for meeting with friends for fun, wine and food. No matter your sophistication level concerning wine or food there is something here for everyone. If you are with a large group and you want to sample the great flavor palate the menu has to offer order several small plates to share. The wine... Ask the expert staff to direct you if you need inspiration; otherwise the list is fun to explore because there are so many wines to try by the glass. CAV is a fun approachable place to spend the evening, to start it or to finish it.
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