By Anne Santos, Food Correspondent
UNION, NJ — I have never had Mediterranean cuisine, but several months ago a new restaurant opened in Union which served this type of food. So, my food companion and I, always looking for an adventure and always interested in broadening our food horizons, decided to visit Kava.
The restaurant has tables and umbrellas outside for dining alfresco — weather permitting. Large windows line the front of the building, which make the inside a people-watchers dream. The inside of the restaurant is decorated in a trendy New York style — black and red. Large-screen televisions adorn the wall showing all the major sporting events. In fact, Kava appears to be the soccer headquarters to many in northern New Jersey.
The restaurant is really split into two sections — the bar/restaurant area and an adjoining cozy room which also could be part of the restaurant or used as a private party room. Hand-drawn artistry symbolizing the Mediterranean bedecks the walls, and the party room is nicely adorned with canvas prints of ‘50s and ‘60s nostalgia. Patrons will notice immediately the soft contemporary music in the background which only adds to the ambiance.
We chose to sit in the intimate, cozy dining room. Lei, our server, immediately filled our water glasses and brought us pita chips which were accompanied by extra virgin olive oil and the menus. As we began to look at our menus, we were immediately impressed with the variety of interesting selections to choose from. We also liked the fact that Kava had a large selection of craft beers.
With guidance from Lei we chose beef short ribs, crab cakes and the rack of lamb to share. As a side, we chose the french fries. We didn’t have to wait long before the food arrived and we got started with the ribs. The ribs were black angus short ribs slowly cooked in a light red wine-based spicy herb sauce. The tender beef fell off the bone, and the gravy was so rich and tempting. This dish was superb, and we loved the side of coleslaw that accompanied it.
Next up were the crab cakes which were made with delicious jumbo Maryland crab meat, roasted red peppers and arugula served with spicy aioli. The aioli was five stars, and it complemented the crab cakes perfectly. The last of the main course choices was the rack of lamb. The lamb was served lollipop style and it was grilled and seasoned to perfection. The french fries worked with all of it and I highly recommend them as a side dish.
Now for dessert. We selected the creme brulee and the Greek yogurt. For drinks we each decided to sample the Greek iced coffee. The coffee was the best coffee I have ever had. A huge glass filled with Greek coffee, milk and ice. There was an exceptionally strong coffee flavor, but not bitter at all, and it went down super smooth. The coffee was the perfect complement to the brulee which was excellent.
The yogurt came next, and that was something to see. The bottom layer was made with maple walnuts and vanilla Greek yogurt. It was topped with maraschino cherries and honey — all nicely served in a goblet. Oh my … what a dessert! Bravo to Kava for having such a talented chef who gets to put his culinary skills to excellent use.
Kava is the perfect place for holiday parties. The owners of Kava, who are very accommodating, suggest booking now while they still have the best selection for your party. There are many packages from which to choose.
The welcoming atmosphere at Kava seems perfect for just about any occasion. I highly recommend it for lunch or dinner and the servers definitely make you feel right at home.
In fact, I can’t wait to go back and try many of the other food selections.