Opening Night: Brava by Brad Kilgore and Miami City Ballet
As a supporter of Miami City Ballet, I have always lamented the lack of dining options near the Adrienne Arsht Center. Somehow a burger and fries just didn’t seem to do justice to the increasing creative and upscale arts scene in the Performing Arts district. And even the close by favorites like, Mignonette and Fooq’s still required separate parking or Uber rides usually resulting in a rush to get to curtain by 8 pm.
When James Beard semi-finalist and one of Food & Wine Magazine's Best New Chefs, 2016, Bradley Kilgore, announced he was taking the helm at the former Barton G restaurant inside the Arsht Center, renamed Brava by Brad Kilgore, I held my breath as I could only hope that his talent and creativity would be embraced on the second floor of the home to the young and energetic Miami City Ballet.
As a fan of Alter, where Chef Brad still reigns in the kitchen, I knew he had an eye for artistic detail and an upscale taste level for creative and delicious food. His dishes seem to embody that balance of food and art.
We chose Opening Night at Miami City Ballet’s classic, Giselle, to dine pre-ballet at Brava.
Not surprising, the space itself has been freshly renovated with the dark, over the top décor replaced with a lighter, yet still elegant touch. Walls of white orchids and large monochromatic graphics add an edgy touch. The heavy theatrical curtains covering the ceiling to floor windows are opened to let in the light from outside.
But it is the food that presents the most dramatic change, as Chef Brad and Chef de Cuisine, Jeff Maxfield tackle pleasing the pre-theatre and post-curtain crowd. Impressive were the freshly made olive oil and rosemary bread served with an airy olive puree butter and starters like the delicately plated Ricotta Raviolo with braised beef and garlic scape pesto.
The Whipped Clam Chowder with truffle butter, Floridian clams and potato puree is one of those dishes not easily forgotten. It is the first dish I have had that rivals Brad’s Soft Egg with Scallop Espuma at Alter. Coincidentally, both dishes offer an optional dollop of osetra caviar. I will only say three words… Go For It.
Main dishes included a 3 Day Beef Rib with maitake mushroom, toasted shallot dashi, smoked horseradish, Alaskan halibut
and our choices, a poached Miami Lobster tail with acorn squash custard, harissa anglaise, banana pepper, tiny corn, and a deliciously seasoned Organic Chicken Breast Poulet Rouge with rosemary and herbs and topped with a popcorn hollandaise.
Both were flavorful and cooked perfectly and the lobster dish was presented tableside with server gently pouring the harrissa sauce over the top.
Brad’s wife, Soraya, an accomplished pastry chef in her own right, has taken the enviable task of creating desserts to match Brad’s menu and they do not disappoint. The Chevre Cheesecake dome with black cherry, almond and coconut crumb was creamy and light.
and the Key Lime Cube had just the right amount of tartness, topped with passion fruit puree, it was complemented by toasted meringue slices surrounding the key lime cube.
Now, this is a “wall” I can support.
The service was also a pleasure, as our waiter and servers described each dish and presented with passion and enthusiasm in a knowledgeable way. A rare experience in Miami.
As our dinner ended, we were graciously escorted to a side door that led us directly onto the second tier of the theatre, where we settled into our seats just as the curtain went up for Miami City Ballet’s ethereal and beautifully staged and danced, Giselle.
As I watched Giselle and The Wilis float effortlessly across the stage to the classical music, I couldn’t help but feel that our dinner at Brava was indeed the "Overture" for the evening. The dishes felt designed to be as ethereal and delicate as the dancers before me on the stage.
A Standing Ovation to Brava.
Arsht Center for the Arts /Ziff Ballet Opera House
1300 Biscayne Blvd.