We don’t eat out at restaurants very often. Both Michelle and I like to cook and, unless it’s a special occasion, we can often make something just as good and healthier (never mind cheaper) at home. We’ll sometimes cave to convenience, but I’d guess we only eat out as a family about 2-3 times a month.
When we do go to a restaurant, especially if it’s for lunch, we like to find something quick, tasty, and healthy-ish. Cava, a new fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant that recently opened in Dedham appeared to fit that bill.
When we are out shopping near Legacy Place in Dedham, we usually get something a la carte from Whole Foods or hit up B.Good. B.Good, in addition to having good food, has a great loyalty rewards program so we almost always have free sides or drinks waiting, plus their kid’s meals don’t make us guess about what we might be feeding to them.
On a recent trip, we noticed a new restaurant a few doors down from B.Good and we decided to check it out.
Cava is a DC-based, Mediterranean fast-casual chain that plans to open 4 locations in the Boston area in the next year. If you are in the city, one opened near Fenway in January. The Dedham location is their second.
They have about 40 other locations through the US, mostly on the East coast at this point. You might have also come across their branded dips and spreads in Whole Foods.
The easiest short-hand is Chipotle for Mediterranean food. I mean that in the best possible Chipotle way, not the gritty queso, stomach churning way.
Like other restaurants in the fast-casual space, Cava’s customizable menu features a base that comes with assorted toppings, proteins, spreads and a dressing.
We happened to stop in on their first official day, but I also swung by a second time a few weeks later to see if all the cheer and enthusiasm had waned. I was happy to find it hadn’t.
The dining area is bright and airy with light tones and lots of blonde wood. Decor-wise, it feels like the restaurant Ikea might open. The kitchen and prep area are open and visible. It will likely get crowded and tight during peak lunch hour, but on both our trips we had a few tables to choose from.
Back to the food, you start by picking your base: salad, grains, pita, or a mix of greens and grains. The grains were rice, brown rice or lentils. The greens were arugula, spinach, romaine or mixed greens.
Note: the menu options proved a little too adventurous for our kids (5 and 8). We ducked next door and got them the B.Good kids meals.
Once you have your base, you move to the dips and spreads. You can choose three. And I’ll note, unlike some other places, when they mark something spicy here, they mean it. The harissa had a good kick.
After dips, come the protein options like like falafel, meatballs, lamb or veggies. You could mix and match a little here, as well. I tried the falafel (a little dry the first visit, but better the second) and grilled veggies.
Next come an assortment of veggies. You can go unlimited here. If they didn’t have a customer for life yet, unlimited veggies did it for me. I tried a scoop of everything but the radishes. Again, the banana peppers were not shy!
Finally, you have the dressing options. Both that I tried, the sriracha greek and the yogurt dill, had nice flavor.
So, healthy, spicy, unlimited veggies then you’re going to throw a tumeric tonic at me? Now you’re just gilding the lily, my friend. The soda fountain options were unique (they had more traditional sodas, too) and varied.
Like B.Good they prominently play up their local and regional food partners.
Overall, I was very impressed both times that I visited. The staff was friendly and helpful. The portions for the salad bowl were generous and more than a match for the price of the meal. I’m happy to have another healthier option in the area when we do decide to eat out. I’ll definitely be back for more at Cava.