Monday, October 14, 2019

Kavana Social Kitchen

With the end of the year looming, there's some pressure on to finish up my 2019 To Dine Challenge list of restaurants. So, Mr. H and I headed to Kavana Social Kitchen in North Royalton on Friday.
Owned by two sisters, the restaurant is colorful, lively, and intended for you to settle in for a shareable meal over craft cocktails, wine and beer, and often live music. There's a patio out front and a deck off the back, with a dining room and then a separate room for the bar and slightly more casual seating too. But overall, it's an approachable spot for all ages.

With an expansive menu of small plates (and a few handhelds and larger dishes), you should be able to find something for every diner. My Cleveland Peach cocktail was quite enjoyable.
But, sometimes when a menu is too big that translates to the kitchen not really doing any dishes "well" in my opinion. Sadly, I think that's the case here.

The menu recomends 2-3 dishes per person. Many of the descriptions sounded great and the website boasts that local and seasonal ingredients are featured. I didn't see that one bit.

We started with the Spicy Crab Dip ($13) with Crab Meat, Red Pepper Flake, Asiago Cheese, and Toasted Naan. There was a pool of oil that was not appetizing to look at and the crab dip was a dull brown in color. The flavor was fine and the mini naan was fantastic (same used at Polpetta). Not a bad start, but underwelming. 
A dish that had immediately caught my eye was the Ahi Tuna Nachos ($12) with Sushi-grade Saku Block Ahi Tuna, Black & White Sesame Seeds, House Made Tortilla, Avocado Pulp, Hot & Sweet Pepper Relish, and Sriracha Hot Sauce. The house-made tortilla chips were done well, and overall it had good flavor. But the dish would eat much better if the tuna was diced and there was more of it per chip. You ended up eating a lot of bites of just chip. This probably was the best dish we had.
Then the meal took a nosedive. There were a few chicken wing options on the menu, and the Chipotle Lime Wings ($8) with Jumbo Wings, a Chipotle Dry Rub and Kiwi BBQ Drizzle with Corn Salsa stood out to me. Um...does that look like a "corn salsa" to you? Looks like canned corn, and it was so strange paired with wings and a mushy gross texture to boot. The "rub" was also flavorless and the sauce was more minimal than the picture below looks. These were probably the worst wings I've had in a long time, maybe ever.
Mr. H had really wanted to share the Grouper Bites ($14) with Tempura Battered Fresh Grouper, Sweet Chili Redux, Key Lime Aioli, Arugula Cabbage Slaw, and a Lime Wedge. Now, the flavor really mimicked General Tso's chicken and we both liked it. But that's where the good qualities stopped. The fish was complete mush, the salad was almost all bland cabbage and difficult to eat a bite on your fork, and where oh where is the key lime aioli promised? On the cabbage and greens? Didn't taste like it.
Mr. H also selected an order of their House Made Tots with Truffle Aioli ($5.50) to round out the meal. They were very large, almost closer to thick potato pancakes than tots. And we only had two left before the kitchen realized they never sent out the aioli. Those last two were infinitely better with it, but that just made me even more disappointed.
Now let's talk about service. The five dishes arrived almost rapid-fire. I get it that "small plate" restaurants often fire dishes and the order in which they arrive varies. But it still helps to course it out a bit and not fire everything at once when the dishes don't take that long to prepare. It's no fun feeling rushed and you don't enjoy the food as much when plates are piling up around you. Also, almost every food runner that came out to the deck delivered dishes to the wrong table. Almost every.single.time. It became quite comical, really. 

This restaurant left nothing to desire, and unless they trim their menu and perfect what's left, I don't see the quality changing. Which stinks, because there aren't a lot of restaurant option in the area, and this could be a real gem. The right elements are there, but we certainly won't be driving back from Cleveland for it. 

13570 Ridge Road
North Royalton, Ohio, OH 44133
(440) 628-8889


Kate @ said...

Man, what a bummer. All of these things SOUND really good - but it's so disappointing when creative or interesting ideas & flavor combos pan out so poorly.