Last weekend I had the pleasure of being taken out for dinner. My first choice was Muse, but they were booked solid - So I thought I'd give Brava a try.
First impressions - The ceiling is still unfinished, the artwork still has price tags, and the staff still look more like Banana Republic employees instead of wait staff. I know I sound a little harsh, but I think these are the things that keep Murrieta's and Brava's out of the Muse and Belvedere league. This is compounded by the American Express coatcheck ticket. Followed quickly by the Perrier water or TAP water question (I know this is a trend on the upswing, but I don't have to like it. When I have guests to my house, I serve them filtered water without charging for it). At this point, I have the leering feeling that every question posed to me this evening is going to have a price tag attached to it.
On to the food - as an appetizer, we order the lobster gnocchi. I asked about the dish, and was told the lobster mixed into the gnocchi, which was wrong. It actually is torn pieces mixed in with the gnocchi, which was quite soft, and the sauce was very flavourful.
My dining partner had the tenderloin, which I believe had mashed potatoes with it. I had lamb that came with an smashingly good polenta (grainy, with flavour throughout, and toasted nicely). The lamb was decent, but had a vaguely metallic taste which Ive found again and again with lamb in Calgary. The shank had a small dab of an exceptionally overpowering herb mixture - which had a taste volume off the charts with the rest of the dish. I had some of the beef as well, which was perfectly cooked - and the beef was of the highest quality.
We ended up skipping out on desert at Brava and went to Divino's to finish up. I continue to find things at Brava that are really really well done, the Gnocchi and the Polenta come to mind. Some of the staff there are really knowledgeable, some not so much. I was suprised to see no duck, rabbit, elk or bison entries on the menu. There are some excellent things to build on, but I don't really feel like they are consistent enough to be competitive with similarly priced restaurants in this city.