For my gluten-free foodies out there, it’s not always easy to find inspiring new food choices, especially in a restaurant setting. Fret no more because Cavé, a Paleo-inspired restaurant in Avon-by-the-Sea, is here to rescue you from boring and tasteless dishes.
Doug Stehle, owner and head chef of Cavé, opened his doors in October 2013. His success and the growing popularity of innovative, healthy food allowed him to expand to the entire building in mid May. But before I get to the food, let me tell you how Stehle was able to open up a restaurant based on a “diet.”
Twenty years ago, Stehle graduated from Atlantic Community College, and went on to work at various restaurants, then as the campus catering chef for Princeton University, and finally as a chef at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, where he realized just how lousy he felt every day.
“Something had to change,” said Stehle. So he started training at his brother’s Avon gym and lost 35 pounds over a period of six months. Stehle, who claims he has added a few pounds on since then (I doubt it), now “feels awesome.”
Part of his success came from changing his diet to Paleo, also known as the “caveman diet.” The Paleo diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats while avoiding dairy, grains, processed food, sugars, legumes and starches. The belief is that you’re eating the way your body naturally wants to, not what the modern world wants you to eat, and this allows your body to perform optimally.
“I thought to myself, what can I do to turn this into something?” said Stehle, who wanted to share what he learned with others about conscious eating. He began cooking for his gym friends where he was able to use his friend’s kitchen for two weeks before moving into Cavé’s current Avon location.
“At that point, it was just the kitchen,” said Stehle. But that soon changed when he introduced Cavé. “I love trying to explain to people (about Paleo). They come in and say, ‘Wait, you’re telling me bacon is good for me? That it’s not the enemy?’” said Stehle. It’s not.
Cavé features fresh ingredients with lots—and lots—of flavor and absolutely no convenience foods except for Sriracha. All of the cooking is done on site from fresh, raw ingredients. Stehle serves grassfed New Zealand beef, Berkshire pork, pasture-fed lamb, and chicken from Griggstown Farm in Princeton. There’s no soda and if you ask for sugar and milk in your coffee you’re going to be pleasantly surprised with Cavé’s “Uncle Mike’s Next Level” coffee, which features butter and coconut oil.
My personal favorite is The Bison, The Duck, and The Egg burger which features a grass-fed bison burger, cooked in duck fat, and topped with avocado and—what else? A cage-free chicken egg. The burger is perfectly cooked. The perfect bite is juicy, crispy, creamy, and yolky. All my favorite texture components. Or try out the Fresh-Grilled Tuna salad “taco.” The lettuce “taco” is just the right vehicle to get all that tuna in your mouth.
Cavé is open Wednesday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The same menu is available all day, with the addition of dinner specials Wednesday through Friday, which include innovative dishes such as shredded lamb “tacos” and braised pork belly.
Where else can you go to eat a delicious burger and still be on a “diet?”
Cavé, A Paleo Eatery
515 Sylvania Avenue, Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ
Melissa Beveridge is a freelance journalist and editor, focusing on great food, healthy living, and wellness. Her passion for eating and living well embodies her writing. A lover of all things Jersey, she is also an avid traveler, always looking to discover those hidden culinary gems everywhere she goes. Her musings can be found on her blog mbeewell.wordpress.com.