When I am travelling on my own I prefer to eat at lunch times and leave the evenings free for reading and relaxing. So, recently whilst in Calgary Alberta, it was suggested I visit Brava Bistro for luncheon. After some initial research I must confess to being apprehensive - Avenue Magazine described Brava as being the "bearer for contemporary cool in Calgary.". Hmm, Contemporary and cool. Not two words I would associate with Calgary (but then I am not a fan of the city).
Brava Bistro is situated at 723 17th Avenue Calgary. Parking can be very tricky (and extremely expensive) in this area, but I found a spot on a side road. I arrived for my 1 pm luncheon reservation to find the restaurant almost deserted (apparently Calgarians like to eat luncheon between 11 am and 12.30pm - I rarely finish breakfast before 9.00 am, so eating luncheon 2 hours later at 11 am would not work for me!). My server was very polite and allowed me to select any table I liked. This unobtrusive behaviour continued delightfully. Soft jazz music played in the background, it was calm and peaceful, and I was allowed plenty of time to study the menu.
The luncheon choices average $15 and are focused around three main areas - salads, pasta/pizza and 'Mains' (another strange piece of terminology). Brava describes itself as "modern fusion style into traditional Mediterranean cuisine - the salads all looked very tempting and avoided the usual Calgary reliance upon Ceasar salad (Arugula, Prawn & Avocado, Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese, Lebanese, Pear & Blue Cheese). The pasta and pizza choices followed the Mediterranean theme. However, I would hasten to suggest the 'Mains' of Beef Rib Sandwich, Flat Iron Steak, Shrimp Curry, Hamburger are not likely to be found on a lunch time menu in the Mediterranean!
I selected the Grape and Blue Cheese Flatbread, served with caramalized onions, grapes, blue cheese, mozzarella and chives for $15.
The meal was simply superb. Not too much blue cheese (it was was just 'dropped' in small clumps onto the dish), the red grapes were crisp and fresh and added a wonderful texture to the dish, the red onions (although the first two bites I sensed were burnt) completed the balance of an excellent plate. The flatbread was 10 inches in diameter and the perfect size for a lunchtime portion.
I was also delighted to find non-alcoholic beer on the menu - so I was able to enjoy a cool glass of Becks ($5.25).
Thanks to the faultless service I was able to arrive, be seated, order, and finish my meal within 30 minutes. Because I was not in a hurry I spent another 15 minutes finishing my meal with a coffee, which although tasty, came in a mug - another mild hatred of mine. A simple demi-tase cup is all I need after luncheon!
Brava Bistro won the Avenue Magazine award in 2012 for Best Overall Restaurant and Best Service. It is easy to see why (if you avoid the non-Mediterranean 'Mains!). Perhaps this is a small piece of 'cool' in Calgary after all?