I was at a work-related dinner in downtown SF this past Wednesday night and popped into CAV afterwards for my fourth or fifth visit. It was excellent.
I had a glass of a sparkling rose from Burgundy and shared a bottle of 2003 Vacqueyras, Domaine la Monardiere with a friend who happened to be there. For those who haven't experienced the joys of good Vacqueyras (southern Rhone, grenache/syrah-based), they are many. As was the case at CAV, where it cost under 30 bucks, it's an affordable alternative to its neighbor, Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
I was in a cheese mood. We had three: Vento d'Estate (cow's milk, Italy); Sweet Grass Hopeful (cow/goat, Georgia, USA); and Serra da Estrela (sheep, Portugal). In addition to the cheeses being perfectly ripe and very tasty, each was completely different from the others. The accompanying garnishes - a tapenade flavored with orange rind, candied pistachios, and Javanese honey - were equally delicious.
The rest of the menu sounded great, too. I was simply going with the server's suggestions. The printed menu is in book form and encompasses both wine and food. It's very well thought out. On the subject of service, it was late and not terribly busy when I arrived, but nobody on the staff was standing around twiddling their thumbs. This sometimes happens in restaurants when the pace has slowed down.
I really like this place. Per the earlier thread regarding San Francisco wine bars, I think CAV is the real deal.
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