Cave Bar & Kitchen has a good chef at the helm and is heading in the right direction – but a touch comfier seats would be nice, writes Dave Lee.

Cafe Bar & Kitchen, South Cave
Drinks selection60%
70%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)

I never visited but lots of people spoke very highly of The Gallery, a cafe on Market Place in the under-celebrated Wolds village of South Cave. Apparently it was dependably high-standard, cosy, Italian-leaning and extremely popular with villagers and visiting regulars. That it closed suddenly last autumn came as a surprise to everyone.
Cut to June and the picture postcard building that once hosted The Gallery now hosts Cave Bar & Kitchen, a new venture from Hull’s Riverside Coffee Co. Gone is the Italian angle and gone is much of the cosy, to be replaced by relatively bum-numbing wooden benches and chairs and a menu offering everything from burgers and steaks to sea bass and scallops via pizzas and soups and sharing boards.

Pan roast pigeon breast

Cave bar (as seems to be the preferred moniker) is open all day long and I’ve visited both afternoon and evening to try to get an even measure of the place. It’s smaller than anticipated and a bit of a clatter of rooms, tables and chairs arranged to wind from front door to back. There’s no real centre point and you’d struggle to seat more than half-a-dozen in convivial order. Encouragingly, I discovered that the head chef is Dan Poole, who had previously done sterling work at 1884 Wine & Tapas in Hull. My hopes rose.

Pork wellington

On the first visit, after being handed a rather confusing and repetitive selection of three varying menus, I thought I’d try a selection of smaller dishes. Goat’s cheese bonbons with garlic aioli (£4) were OK. About what you’d expect – four ping-pong ball sized breadcrumbed cheesy spheres and a gloopy dip.
The soy, maple and ginger fried chicken wings (£6 for five) were also OK. Not much taste of soy – or maple or ginger, come to that. There was a sticky, dark pool of such ingredients in the bottom of the bowl that indicated they were involved at some point in the dish’s preparation, but I found only trace evidence on the actual chicken itself.
So far, so OK. I was far happier with the food on the second a la carte visit and it would appear that this is where Dan gets the chance to stretch himself a little more. Pan roast pigeon breast with roasted cauliflower puree, buttered spinach and bacon bits (£9) is an enjoyable starter. So easy to mess up but when the meat is juicy and purply-red it’s one of my favourites.
The braised lamb shank served with mustard mash, kale and Rioja juice is a hearty enough plateful for £17. Or should I say bowlful? As it’s all piled in a bowl, which makes for occasionally frustrating eating.
Best of the mains I’ve sampled, though, is the pork wellington (£15). With decent pastry wrapped around a perfectly-cooked tenderloin, and what I’m guessing is prosciutto or another dry-cured ham separating the two, it’s crispy, salty and juicy and accompanied by black pudding crumb for texture, truffle mash, more buttered kale and cider gravy. Just the sort of thing I’d love to be able to make at home if I wasn’t so awful with pastry. And so lazy.
Of the puds, I had a decent apple crumble and custard for £5.50 and an excellent New York cheesecake with chunks of honeycomb and salted caramel sauce for £6.
All-in-all, Cave Bar & Kitchen seems set fair. I’m not sure the total amount of food on offer across all menus isn’t a little ambitious for such a small venue but apparently the takeaway pizza side of the business is doing very well so perhaps the size of the menu isn’t just about the offering in the restaurant. I’d like to see rather more adventurous dishes available – and Dan is more than capable of creating them – but I don’t doubt that commercial pressures demand that perennial favourites rule the roost.
I’d definitely recommend going a la carte. Mainly because the food is better, partly because you get a more satisfying experience for your money. I would expect Cave Bar & Kitchen to flourish whatever happens. South Cave is a comparably affluent, large village and really needs a good restaurant that’s going to be around a while. I just hope they do well enough to upgrade the seats to something a bit comfier.
Cave Bar & Kitchen, 67 Market Place, South Cave, HU15 2AS. Tel: 01430 471204. Food served: Tuesday-Thursday, 10.30am to 11pm; Friday and Saturday, 9.30am to midnight; Sunday, 9.30am to 11pm.

About The Author

Dave Lee is TV producer and film-maker who also writes on food & drink, travel and culture for various publications. He is a regular contributor on BBC Radio 4 and the Yorkshire Post. Worryingly, he believes that the finest food on earth is the pattie butty.

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