El Mesón de la Cava. It doesn’t sound like your typical Caribbean dining choice. But, let’s break this down. It’s in a cave – sure. Interesting food selections (not to include jerk chicken – it’s not that kind of place). Why not? Put them together and you have a romantic atmosphere in the center of Santo Domingo, and an unexpected find for us that we’re glad to share.
The cave that houses the restaurant has a rich history. It is a natural limestone cave, carved out by the surf (when this spot was on the coastline) over a period of millions of years. The resulting cavern gave shelter to numerous groups including pirates, buccaneers and natives hiding from multiple attackers wanting pillage this splendid island. Currently, your only threat here is your appetite and potentially your wallet. The prices in the restaurant reflect the exotic interior – but that’s what you’d expect.
The exterior of El Mesón De La Cava resembles a shell situated in a small garden. Enter and you look out to sunny terrace bar area where you can also grab a drink and a meal (at about half the price as in the cavern).
Head down the spiral staircase and you are greeted by formal wait staff who will show you to your little romantic cove nook.
We chose to start with the octopus appetizer – grilled on wood embers and served over roasted potatoes. Not something we would normally order, but why not go a little exotic to make things more memorable. It turned out to be a really good choice. The octopus had a really mild flavor, similar to scallops, with a consistency not unlike a plump calamari. The flavor from grilling it over the wood embers was very slightly charred and really fantastic.
Then we went for the Chicken with Goat Cheese and Red Pepper sauce over mashed potatoes. The flavor was good but it was honestly slightly dry. Good excuse for that second glass of wine – yes, please.
We went early so we actually had the place to ourselves and the staff were very gracious in allowing us to snap pictures to our hearts content. What more can two bloggers want?
Overall it was a really memorable meal and an experience that I can recommend. Especially if you take along someone special. The restaurant promises and delivers a unique atmosphere, interesting food and great service. The romance, that’s up to you!