There is a new restaurant by acclaimed Chef Brad Kilgore at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, called Brava, at 1300 Biscayne Blvd. It is on the second floor of the Ziff Ballet Opera House, run by Executive Chef Jeff Maxfield, originally from Michigan. He worked at Toscana Divino on Brickell for 4 1/2 years before being asked by Brad to oversee this project.
Taking over the space that was priorly the restaurant Prelude by Barton G., the design is upscale, with elegant interiors and a sophisticated ambiance. There’s plush seating, an orchid wall, high ceilings, white table cloths, beautiful silverware, abstract lighting fixtures, draping, and a beautiful soundtrack playing in the background. It is so refreshing to be able to dress up for a nice dinner in a contemporary and refined dining experience like this. It makes me nostalgic for the days of yore. How convenient and appealing for guests to only have to park once to enjoy an elegant dinner and see a ballet, broadway show or concert. I suggest valet parking as this is not the safest part of town.
Brad Kilgore turned Miami on its ear when he opened Alter. Many people consider him a culinary genius. He has already won many accolades, including Food & Wine’s Best New Chef 2016 and Best New Restaurant by the Miami Herald in 2015. What a coup for the Adrienne Arsht center and their parent company, Comcast, to acquire his talents! They have deep pockets and it shows.
The restaurant holds 96 people, and it can get quite busy and hectic before the curtain rises. They have to get everyone in and out in an orderly fashion. That is why we decided to come in after the curtain went up. We could relax and dine. We were all alone on a Wednesday night. More people should take advantage and come after 8pm on a show night. For now the restaurant is open Thursday through Saturday as well as any evening there is a show on. The restaurant also opens sometimes for lunch if there is a matinee. Make sure you call to check beforehand.
The menu is concise because of time constraints and changes according to seasons. There are five apps and six entrees. The menu might read simply but the dishes are complex. Not everything was a winner. For instance, the wahoo poke included Thai flavours, a toasted peanut emulsion, with green papaya and Fresno chili. The presentation is stunning, but the dish tasted fishy. The heirloom tomato salad with chili vinegar compressed watermelon, and a wonderful creamy stracciatella cheese (from today’s milk) is another highly artistic presentation, but a pet peeve of mine is when tomatoes come ice cold from the fridge. Obviously this was not made a la minute but was prepared ahead and refrigerated. This is totally understandable because guests have to catch the curtain, but how are they able to do it in New York before going to a Broadway show?
The whipped clam chowder is one of the signature dishes. The light as air consistency with black truffle butter, potato purée, Florida clams and celery root is rich and silky smooth. They bring freshly baked bread to the table with two types of butter. One is a regular butter and the other is a fragrant olive butter. For our mains, my gently cooked Alaskan halibut was a visual joy, with a vibrant and frothy green spinach nage, golden potatoes, zucchini, pistachio relish and lemon verbena. The Poulet Rouge is cooked sous vide in rosemary and preserved lemon with white and green asparagus in a popcorn hollandaise sauce. It’s exciting how modern and playful the dishes are. The braised lamb shank bourguignon is fall off the bone tender. It comes with a black garlic glaze, crispy gremolata and root vegetables. The portions seem to be on the small side, but once you have an appetizer, main and dessert you will be totally satisfied. There are a couple of steaks and a bouillabaisse on the list as well. The wine list is excellent and you can even get things like Kistler or Dom Perignon by the glass. What an wonderful idea! Louie, my favourite sommelier from Corsair, and the St. Regis has moved to Brava, so I know why the list is so well curated.
Finishing with dessert, I thought the artful presentation outweighed the quality of some of the dishes. The Key Lime Cube is an innovative and creative looking dessert, with four citruses, toasted meringue and African basil. It had a nice tart citrus flavour but the filling was too thick and gelatinous for me. I preferred the Chèvre Cheesecake, with a morello cherry and tarragon sorbet. And the plate looks like an abstract painting.
A few people came in after the performance for a dessert, coffee or glass of champagne.
I am sure things will only improve, they have only done 36 dinners as of this review. I also hope they will get patrons to come and dine who are not just there because they are going to a show.
Every dish is like a work of art, and the chef is clearly striving to make a success of Brava. The menu is unique and authentic with elevated presentations. I wish him the best of luck.