Brava Bistro (Calgary)

I was recently on a trip home visiting my family and took them out for dinner.  The restaurant scene has evolved to a whole new level in Calgary so when I Google, “best restaurants in Calgary”….a ton of amazing places show up.  One of the places that came up was Brava Bistro.  The menu looked good.  So why not dive in?

To start, we tried three appetizers.  The first was the Lobster Gnocchi, a potato and egg gnocchi with peas, carrots, and a shellfish butter sauce.

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The gnocchi was light and pillowy.  It had a nice texture: chewy and soft.  The gnocchi was nicely contrasted by the firm but well cooked veggies and the sauce was nice, light and tasty.  Light and tasty don’t always go together but as an app, this really worked.  Next we tried the mussels with leeks that was topped with a white wine and cream sauce, pomme frites and, aioli.
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I think was the unanimous favourite amongst the apps.  The sauce was rich but relatively light.  How can you pack so much flavour with such a light sauce?  The mussels were fresh and meaty.  The fries were perfectly crisped and the aioli was like a super-rich-garlic-mayo.  The contrast between the super rich aioli and crisp fries was a great contrast to the soft mussels and velvety sauce.  Next were the Seared Scallops served with spinach, crispy leeks, warm truffle vichyssoise, and chives.
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The scallops were a little on small side but they simply seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked nicely.  Nothing to rave about but well executed.  The spinach and truffle were good.  Again, nothing to rave about but well executed.
The first main was the Spicy Bacon Rigatoni the had bacon, garlic, jalapeño, tomato, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan and parsley.
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The pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente.  The sauce had a nice heat from the spice and the tomatoes weren’t overly tart or saucy.  As far as pastas go, some would say it was on the dry side due to the lack of sauce but it was so rich with flavour from the bacon and jalapeño, it didn’t need it.  The parsley added a nice freshness but it kind of got lost in the richness of the other ingredients.
Next we tried the Crispy Cracklin Chicken.  The chicken was pan roasted with scallion mashed potatoes, buttered carrots, and white wine chicken jus.
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The chicken was juicy and perfectly cooked.  The skin was crispy and spiced to perfection.  The mash was nice but what really grabbed my attention was the jus.  Mixed with the chicken…awesome!  The jus had a nice very spice blend to it.  It had some five spice, my mother said some nutmeg, but at the end of the day, whatever it was, it was unique and great.  The chicken was crispy on the outside and moist in the white meat.  The mash soaked up the very tasty sauce.  All taken together, one of the better chickens I’ve had at a fancy bistro.
Next we tried the BBQ pork shoulder.  It was Guinness-braised, covered with BBQ sauce and topped over perogies and savoy cabbage.
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The outside was rich and nicely spiced.  Wow!  Welcome to flavour country.  The perogies were crisp on the outside and nicely potato-ey on the inside.  It all mixed really well together.  Execution, once again, very well done.
The last main we had was the Spring Creek Ranch Beef Short Rib served with roasted garlic cheese curd mash potatoes, spinach topped with a cabernet jus.
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The short rib was super tender and the vegetables were cooked a perfect al dente.  The gravy was nice.  The meat was fatty and full of beefy goodness.  The greens added a nice balance but really, no amount of greens could overpower the beef…sweet sweet beef.
We could barely fit in dessert but we tried the Salted Caramel Panna Cotta with apple crumble and fresh apples.
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What a great combination.  Salty, sweet, crunchy buttery crumble, smooth soft panna cotta and fresh apples.  Other than saying it all melded perfectly together I think the words speak for themselves.
So the website I read ranked this restaurant in the top 10 in Calgary.  Now I know there are a lot of new places in town but from the places I’ve eaten in town over the past several decades, I would have to agree.  This place is place is pretty damn good.
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~ by jlowjlow on August 18, 2013.

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