A few weeks ago, I listed a restaurant on my “NJ Health Food” post, and said it was on my list to try next time I was there. Well, I did–twice actually! Today is my birthday and I wish I could be there, but I’m grateful for the meals I did enjoy there.
Cave (I believe it is intended to be pronounced “ka-vay”) is a restaurant in Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ. It is also described as “the first paleo restaurant”. Those of you who follow my blog might remember a previous review of Hu Kitchen, a paleo cafeteria-style eatery in NYC, but Cave is a totally different experience.
My first visit was with my mom and grandmother. My grandmother is a Red Lobster devotee, so I wasn’t sure how she would respond to a restaurant where there was no bread. My mom and I are paleo practitioners so we already knew what to expect (and we were eager to try this restaurant).
The inside of the restaurant is airy and relaxed; the white walls are lined with photos of the beach, and there are big front windows that let in lots of light. I was starving after our journey so I ordered chili (seasoned with cinnamon according to the menu) to split with my mom and a burger called “The Duck, the Chicken, & the Egg”. The burgers are bun-less as they should be to qualify as “paleo”, and are served with sweet potato salad. The burger was bison meat with duck fat, topped with a fried egg, avocado, and sriracha sauce, and was served sitting on a bed of sweet potato hash (this might sound like too much sweet potato, but it sounded good to me!). Served on a square plate and arranged with the slices of avocado perched atop the burger and egg and drizzed with sriarcha, it smelled amazing and I knew I wouldn’t be hungry for long.
My mom ordered the lettuce tacos with grilled tuna, and I believe she ordered a sweet potato salad side as well. The lettuce was perfectly cool and crispy despite the hot tuna inside. In other restaurants, the lettuce tends to be soggy and the meat either overcooked or undercooked–here, that wasn’t the case. I tried some and enjoyed the refreshing taste of the lettuce paired with the perfectly cooked tuna.
My grandmother ordered the Pan Seared Baby Romaine salad. The presentation was beautiful, with the leaves arranged to look like a flower, and topped with bacon, pickled red onion, and mustard-shallot vinaigrette. Although she was initially thrown by the braising (she is, after all, used to the pile of romaine served at Red Lobster and other chains) she appreciated the flavors and took half back to home to have for lunch the next day.
Even though I was pretty full I had to try the chocolate dessert, a mocha bacon chocolate cake. They had me at mocha, but I was convinced by the combo of bacon and chocolate. If you can imagine chocolate mousse frozen, topped with bacon and with a texture somewhere between mousse and cheesecake, that would be the best description. It was very rich (not complaining!) so I took the other half home.
The meal was so good, we came back a few days later and I had the same thing, except I tried the daily special soup, asparagus, and my mom chose the chicken soup. Both soups were amazing, but I was especially impressed by the chicken soup, which was incredibly flavorful considering the simplicity of the ingredients. We also shared a salad, and shared the burger and dessert.
The location is convenient too; just several blocks up from the beach, my mom and I elected to park near the beach and walk to the restaurant the second time. It took us about ten minutes and it was a nice way to soak up the local ambience while getting a bit of exercise.
I hope to visit again for dinner, and will post a review (and more photos hopefully).
All in all, this is my new favorite restaurant. My mom and I had given up on eating out years ago after “going paleo” (and due to various food intolerances) but it’s good to know that there is now a restaurant catering to paleo guests. I highly recommend you stop by for a meal and enjoy a day at the beach while you’re there!