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Jul 10, 2010 08:31 AM

Brava Bistro Disappoints

My sister was in town from Boston last week and we decided to go to dinner. I thought Brava Bistro would suit us both – interesting menu, good food, nice wine selections. We loved our waiter, a sommelier in training, and his wine suggestions. With a little bubbly and a lot of red wine in hand we turned our attention to the menu. We were considering appetizers and a salad to share. My sister and I both have a strong aversion to goat cheese and one of the salads sounded tempting but had the dreaded goat cheese. Our waiter assured us that it could be omitted.

We ordered the mussels with pommes frites and the spicy prawn appetizer but kept our menus. The mussels were delicious, the sun was out and the wine was flowing. The spicy prawns arrived and with our first bite our eyes locked and we froze. Goat cheese!!! Quick – wine, water, bread, pommes frites – anything to remove the taste. The waiter apologized and immediately removed the dish.

We consulted the menu and it did say feta but we had just discussed – in detail – our shared hatred of all cheeses goat. He couldn’t have forgotten. He returned with a new plate – or so we thought – of spicy prawns. It looked small – like it was missing two prawns. It was. It also had some small remaining sprinkles of goat cheese. We couldn’t believe it. The kitchen had not made us a new dish – they had picked the goat cheese – or most of it – off of the food. If I had simply wanted the goat cheese picked off I would have done it myself. Absolutely ridiculous!

Why is it that you can go to a restaurant half a dozen times and get good food and good service but the second you extol their virtues to an out of town guest they embarrass and disappoint?

Needless to say, we left. We headed to Farm and had a spectacular meal. Details to come.

Brava Bistro
723 17th Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2S 0B6, CA

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  1. I thought feta was made with sheep's milk. I agree it does taste a little like goat cheese but I'm not sure I would have blamed the server.

    4 Replies
    1. re: hsk

      Feta is made from sheep, goat and even cow milk. That is why we asked the waiter before ordering. When he confirmed that the feta was goat feta we asked if our meal could be made without it because we don't care for goat feta. I am sorry that you misunderstood - I thought that part was clear.

      Our issue with the restaurant wasn't the waiter as much as the kitchen staff. Perhaps the waiter didn't explain the situation to them but to "pick off" the goat cheese and send it back out strikes me as unprofessional and well, a bit cheap.

      We were just disappointed and didn't feel like we wanted to stay for dinner so we left. We didn't storm out, we paid our bill, tipped our waiter and chose to eat dinner somewhere else.

      1. re: higgika

        To just pick off the cheese and return your original dish to you is very unfortunate. To risk offending a diner for the cost of a few shrimp is unbelievable. Diners have a lot of choices in Calgary. One bad experience like this can cause a restaurant valuable business. More importantly, it damages their reputation which is the hardest thing to build and maintain.

        1. re: higgika

          Sorry, I got the impression that you expected the waiter to know that feta was made from goats milk and you didn't notice the feta until you consulted the menu after tasting it. My mistake.

          I've seen cheap feta made from cow's milk but I'd always thought expensive feta (i.e. the stuff at Kalamata grocery on 11 St SW in the barrels that I absolutely love) was sheep's milk, I'd never encountered goat's milk feta. But googling it, I see you're right.

          1. re: hsk

            You're right that traditional made-in-Greece feta uses sheep's milk—in fact, technically it can't use more than 30% goat's milk and still be called Feta. The cheaper stuff is made with more goat's milk and the really, ick, cheap stuff uses cow's milk (which I don't think is ever done in Greece). Feta cheese also has to be aged for at least 3 months.

      2. brava has been off my list for a long time now - never really impressed with the food and definitely not impressed with the service

        1 Reply
        1. re: pants

          I have found the service to be uneven, as well. Sometimes spectacular, other times quite slow and inadequate.

        2. Higgika - it sounded like you were having a stellar time, until the goat cheese arrived. I am like you guys, I DESPISE goat anything. That pastey, stong after tastes just spoils my meal. 9 times out of 10 feta=goat. I don't even order feta anymore. It's disappointing to hear how it was handled. I wonder if the waiter forgot to tell the kitchen and just tried to scrape it off himself? I've even gone as far as to tell the waiter I'm dealthy allergic, just so they will take me seriously!
          There are tonnes of great restos in that area. Situations like yours are how they lose business even when the food and service is awesome. It's the little things that people remember!

          1 Reply
          1. re: TSAW

            Reviving and old thread....I was at Brava last weekend with a 10 person birthday party. The service was great, the drinks were good and the lobster poutine and scallop/pork belly starters were quite delicious.

            I just wanted to warn fellow chowhounders not go anywhere near their burger unless you like to stink of raw garlic for the next 4 hours! The patty was dense, dry and literally had so much raw garlic that it was spicy. The bun is a thick, dry wheat ciabatta that is similar in texture to a crusty old kitchen sponge. The waxy tasteless cheddar on top adds absolutely nothing and there's not a single vegetable to be seen aside from some crispy fried shallots (which are actually quite good and the only redeeming component of this disaster!)

            Coming from a restaurant that recieves so many accolades, i find it crazy that this burger is so bad in almost every respect. Avoid at all cost!