Main Location: St. Paul
“The joy of the wildly successful trend of mobile food trucks, is that it’s like having a totally different restaurant outside your door each day.” The very first thing written on Cave’s Menu page, it just so happens to be the exact thoughts that cross my mind whenever I think of them.
An “Afro-Italiano” fusion Truck, Cave offers a selection of both plated and handheld dishes, including Wraps and Steak Sandwiches. Their main offerings centre around Rice dishes, such as Curries, including a certain dish known as “Tibsie.” This dish basically consists of vegetables and (sometimes) meat sautéed and mixed together with rice and seasonings; served with homemade Flatbread. Lamb is the most popular item, and will at times be offered in Special daily items along with Goat.
They also serve a few breakfast items, though the only one seeming even slightly African is something called “Foule:” fava bean and vegetable puree, topped with garlic and served with French bread. On that same topic of “non-African” items, they also serve a regular Hamburger.
I don’t really quite understand why they claim to be an “Italian-fusion” either. The only things reminiscent being the fact that one has the option for pesto in wraps and sandwiches. Oh, plus the Chicken Salad has an “Italian dressing.” Salad flavours itself are really more on the Greek side of things.
Very tempted to say a few sandwiches are less African-inspired as well, but they do use French Bread, a part of their Culture developed from French invasions and travels into the Continent.
I imagine the steak sandwich, wraps, and curry are all very flavorful and tasty within their own right. I, myself, grabbed the Beef Tibsie. Though only had the chance to enjoy half of it cuz it was a “Food Truck Sample Day” and I was getting full.
The ingredients were all nice separately, and the spiced tomato sauce had a little zing and richness to it. Overall the entire thing tasted like something your parents tried cooking up with leftover vegetables when you were a kid. It all felt random and somewhat muddled together, the only real appeal I found being that “Hmmm, I could probably reheat this easily at home.”
My favorite part, actually, was the slices of hot Flatbread they wrapped in foil and served alongside it. So soft, oily and flavorful, I could just eat those with butter and a spread all day; I wish they had given me more.
Rice and Breakfast dishes are all served in a giant styrofoam box with plastic utensils and the bread, which is what one is encouraged to use for scooping. Very awkward to eat with on the go, especially since the flatbread is still so hot to handle, one really needs to find a table or bench for full enjoyment.
They do have sandwiches and wraps, but served in a basket with chips, leading to more dependence on both hands (especially since Steak Sandwiches don’t have the best reputation for holding together easily).
Range of $6-$9, with all Main Rice dishes staying on that higher end, Lamb and Goat specials getting into the double digits.
A noticeable wait to have them cook up any meats and vegetables, even when no one else is ordering.
The TOE: 5
I love and admire the idea of bringing an African Truck to the streets. However, the menu they chose is really not suitable to a Food Truck at all; any items that ARE suitable on it aren’t African OR Italian. When you visit, it doesn’t feel like you’re going to a Truck; more like a Restaurant that you have to stand outside for… I guess that explains their quote.
There are a lot of little things that I wish they would do to really change themselves into a better Beacon of their Culture. They could make smaller versions of the Tibsie and Curry (they do give you a lot), then shove them inside of a roll with toppings. All these regular sandwiches, wraps, and burgers need to go, replaced with ACTUAL Italian and African-styled fillings. Most of all, they need to make something with that PITA bread they make; it’s SO good, it should have a dish centered around itself. That’s not something I normally say; personally, I rarely even understand Truck dishes like tortillas-n-guac, pita chips-n-hummus. This, however, would work.
They have a great start with flavors and Tradition, but adjustments need to be made if Street Food is really where they want to go.
Currently, Cave Café is mostly suited for those looking for a bigger sit-down lunch or something that they can reheat later for dinner. There are possibilities for those looking to walk around and eat, but the ones that seem really worth it and indicative of their “culinary focus” are limited.
Steak Sandwich and Lamb Gyro Wrap should be one’s main goals for the “Street Food” category. If one still wants to visit and buy a Main dish, I would stick to the Curries; always a good, flavorful option to get for lunch. Also, look on their Specials, little stickers or writings on the side of the Truck of options they might have that day. If you see any Goat or Lamb dishes, inquire; they’re always a good fun option to try if you haven’t had it yet.
For those still wanting to try Tibsie, Lamb is the only one that still intrigues me. Just know that this, along with any Lamb/Goat specials, are going to be in the low double digits of price. As such, not suited for those conscious of space in their wallet.