Arriving just a couple of minutes before our 6:00pm reservation, I checked in with the hostess. From the nearby doors, I could hear the jazzy sounds of piano keys coming off the speakers and setting the mood. I peeked inside and loved what I saw. The dining room beamed with an oasis of white-tableclothed tables. I felt a certain New York City or Chicago chic vibe not often found in South Florida. Dressed to the nines, diners sipped wine while the staff scurried here and there. Back outside, I had a brief moment of panic when my name couldn’t be found on the reservation sheet. After diligently looking several more times, I showed the hostess my Resy app along with the reminder/confirmation texts I’d received as well. Rumour has it, I happened to be one of about five diners whose reservations disappeared on the Resy system that night. It took a bit of scrambling and an additional fifteen minute wait to finally be seated.
As the clock ticked, we set fire to the (initial) rain and studied the wine menu. The first wine off the list we requested wasn’t available (Silver Oak) and neither was the second (Jordan). Because of this, our waiter suggested another wine -and long time favorite- from the same region (Caymus) but at a higher cost. After some back and forth, we were ultimately offered the Caymus bottle at the cost of the Jordan. Done. After ironing out the wine situation and placing our orders, our party finally exhaled and began to enjoy our night.
Water and bread service began. Not just any bread: warm and wholesome Rosemary Focaccia by Chef Soraya Kilgore complemented by a duo of dreamy butters (olive oil & sea salt). Oh I how I loved thee.
What I tried:
HIT: The multidimensional Ricotta Agnoletti, presented simply and beautifully, wasn’t officially my dish. My gracious girlfriend allowed me more than one bite; I just had to understand the flavor a little better with each one. Listing roasted miso, garlic scape, and braised beef as key ingredients, the agnoletti surprised with every (hearty and pillowy) bite. This is one I could easily double order as an entree in the future.
The Whipped Clam Chowder (black truffle butter, potato puree, Florida clams, and celery root) and Whipped Potatoes (accompanying the Dry Aged Ribeye) brought the term “whip up something in the kitchen” to fruition: fragrant, buttery, and silky smooth. Wearing fancy heels or curled up on my favorite sofa spot in pajamas, I would blissfully choose these time and time again.
MISS: Besides the initial reservation and wine issues upon arrival, the many food standing-ovation moments seemed to be overshadowed at times by additional service hiccups. Brava ran out of the Alaskan Halibut shortly after our arrival and a second bottle of wine was ultimately charged at full price…without disclosure. In addition (and to our astonishment), the wine bottle was repeatedly wiped with the waiter’s bare hand. Ultimately, we chose to pour our own for the rest of the night. Our appetizers were held back so that they would “all be served at the same time.” Still, they arrived in random order. Despite more than half of the tables emptying out by 7:00pm and leaving the mad rush behind, our main courses took a while to arrive. The Dry Aged Ribeye for Two was presented table side with the rest of the entrees, but then took a seemingly long time to be brought back out (after they took it away for slicing and replating). Of course, this meant we had to dissappointedly skip dessert. Time simply ran out.
Overall, I’m excited about the addition of Brava to the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts: mostly because I’m a fan of Chef Kilgore (as I’ve posted before here, here, and here). But also, Miami’s culinary landscape definitively needs more “real” upscale dining. We simply do not have enough. What about a return visit after some of the mishaps I experienced? Should I give up? Or should I just keep chasin’ pavements? At this time, I don’t feel comfortable returning for dinner if pressed for time. Even though pre-show dinners are the driving concept behind the restaurant, it seems Brava’s not quite there yet. With additional attention to detail and time management, it will be. My next visit will be on a day when I can sip and taste at my leisure and hopefully enjoy the full experience. I don’t think fine-dining is meant to be rushed, anyway. Until then, I’ll be waiting…