If you’re doing brunch right, it should feel like vacation: a slow wake-up, leisurely 11am arrival, and enough food and drink to carry you through breakfast, lunch…maybe even dinner. Off the beaten path in Providence’s Jewelry District, CAV is the perfect staycation destination to check all these boxes.
Arriving via Bassett Street, you’ll get a sneak peak inside the windows of the ornate lamps, cheeky sculptures, and flickering lanterns filling the interior. Circling around the corner onto Imperial Place, you’ll find a stone courtyard, the patio adorned with trees, plants, and string lights, even in chillier weather. The entrance is marked by a three-foot-tall metal tiger and reads “CAV: Restaurant, Antiques.”
CAV was opened in 1989 by Sylvia Moubayed. Born in Egypt, Moubayed was a world-traveler and antique collector. To culminate her passions, Moubayed opened a restaurant and coffee house where she could also sell and share her love for antiques with patrons. Seeing the loft space for the first time with its tall ceilings and brick walls, Moubayed almost named the business Cavè, an ode to the caves she once visited in France. Instead, she chose “CAV,” an acronym for cocktails, antiques, victuals. Today, five years after her passing, the restaurant is run by her son, John Moubayed.
A friend and I visited CAV on a Sunday for a mid-morning brunch. We were seated in the corner next to a display case full of textiles, with a beautifully beaded bull on the wall behind us, beneath a series of glass orbs and chandeliers. We delighted in the full cafe menu, ordering a latte and cappuccino to start. Soon after, we indulged in pomegranate mimosas from their full bar.
Exploring the rest of the restaurant, we glimpsed gatherings ranging from intimate tables of two to lively parties of 14, each tucked away into their own bohemian, maximalist backdrops. Everywhere you look there are beautiful antique carpets, windowed paneling, and large hanging glass mirrors.
At our waiter Vinny’s recommendation, we ordered the omelet, crab cake, and French toast, all to share. The omelet was prepared with fresh, sauteed spinach, balsamic caramelized onions, goat cheese, and tomatoes. On the side was herb-roasted, red bliss potatoes and French bread. For two people with a craving for sweet and salty, this was the perfect dish. The sweetness of the caramelized onion and goat cheese popped alongside the savory eggs and potatoes.
While crab isn’t my typical go-to for brunch, it’s the dish that’s been on my mind since we left. The Maryland jumbo super lump crab cake was encrusted with pistachio and served alongside a perfectly poached egg. The kicker? The zesty sriracha aioli. The dish was full of flavor and texture.
Last, but certainly not least, was the brioche French toast “a la CAV,” which was a classic French toast topped with sauteed apples, raisins, and walnuts. There was no need to add butter or syrup, as it was paired with a perfectly sweet and complementary butterscotch maple sauce.
As we closed our meal, Vinny, who has been working at CAV for 22 years, shared a few memories about Sylvia, who he said always made people feel welcome and at home. After just a few hours of dining, it’s obvious Sylvia’s legacy lives on.
14 Imperial Place • 751-9164 • CAVRestaurant.com
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