Bravo at the MFA 7/11 Report
I didn’t realize it, but Tim Partridge is the new Exec Chef at the MFA. I don’t know who he replaced or how Bravo was under that or previous chefs. We had dinner there twice in the last 2 weeks, during the French Film Festival.
The room- is one of my favs ever. A wall of glass looks out on a balcony and the restful treed courtyard. It is more spacious than any restaurant I’ve been in, which allows for intimate conversations and a sense of luxurious comfort and privacy. The dominant color is a rich warm salmon, offset by linen beige. Banquettes are large and plush. It is peaceful and quiet.
Service is fine but nothing special and not very informed; there has apparently been a great deal of recent turnover “ because it’s summer.”
The food , Mediterranean in leanings, is generally very tasty and nicely presented but seasoning missteps are frequent (over-peppered soup, a dessert-sweet onion marmalade accompanying roast salmon, a grossly undersalted risotto). We enjoyed our food but both dinners were pervaded by the feeling of stinginess on the part of the kitchen. Said plate of salmon with beet gnocchi held THREE gnocchi the size of a half malt ball. A lovely trout sat on a luscious jerusalem artichoke puree of perhaps 3 Tablespoons. Greens were not on the plates. And these entrees were in the $26-$28 range. Desserts were good but not special. Bread was Iggy’s Francese.
In summary, for us Bravo is a uniquely beautiful, luxuriant and comfortable place to meet friends for drinks. After an exhausting day of art experiencing, it offers just the perfect calm and quiet needed for recharging oneself. And for small elegant people with small appetites, the dinners will satisfy many.
It's a pity this place in any incarnation tries to be more than it should. (BTW, why is it called Bravo when that's more appropriate for a concert hall restaurant?)
When I'm visiting museums, the museum restaurant is often a reasonably price place to eat well thought out, generally well prepared food. Two examples around here pop to mind: the PEM in Salem and Worcester's art museum. The MFA acts as though they need to do more. Why?
you know what barley? BINGO. i think you is right. and i also think there are just not enough fine art appreciators who want to shell out for a fine meal as part of the fine art experience. hence the short hours and the stinginess. Imagine the frustration for the MFA. Man I wish Boston had the same blood that NYC has- supporting all those great cuiltural institutions and fine dining restaurants. But then again, i don't want to live in NYC.
the cafeteria downstairs...downright nasty. My son calls it the worst pizza he's ever tried to taste...the salad bar has raw vegs that I wonder about...then there was the middle choice, the cafe outside the gift shop....the most overpriced for what you got than even Bravo.
they need to do a real middle...some reasonably priced small plates. I haven't tried the new cafe in the America's wing...has anyone?
If my husband and I are going to enjoy a meal at the MFA it will be at Bravo. We've had good food and good service throughout the years.
There are a few factors that have not been mentioned in this conversation. First Bravo is discounted 15% for for those who support the MFA by becoming members. That drops those entrees to the $22-$23.50 range. The MFA is an institution that provides a lot to the city and if visitors don't support it with membership, they should help support it by paying a bit more when they use the services.
The serene, calm setting is exactly what I need after seeing a great exhibition or spending time visiting old friends from the art world around the MFA. I tried the new dining venue in the courtyard and found it anything but relaxing.
Bravo also tends to be less attractive to families who visit the museum. It give adult visitors the option of enjoying a meal with fewer children behaving the way children do when they are overtired and over-stimluated. Another reason I avoid the other dining options at the Museum.
With all the recent changes at the MFA and more to come this fall, what would you like to see them add as food and wine options?
I'd love a quiet bar with a great wine-by-the-glass program for me, a good program for those who love craft cocktails, and a menu of small plates designed by Boston's most gifted food people. The sort of thing Parish Cafe does with sandwiches. This would be a venue where I would stop every time I visited. It might even be something they could try at the bar inside Bravo.
I had brunch yesterday (7.31.11) at Bravo with four other dining companions. The brunch was $33 for two courses or $39 for three. Among the dishes that we had which we thought were really well done was a crabcake appetizer that came with nicely dressed small salad, and main dishes which included salmon with crispy skin, pork loin and roasted chicken. The size of the dishes were not stingy IMO. There was live music (piano and bass players), a relaxing environment and nice service.
We looked at the basement cafeteria (food did not look very good) and middle range option on the first floor (very crowded, loud and a long line) before deciding on Bravo. As museum members, we received a 15 percent discount on the bill and thought that the brunch as a decent value.
When we received our bill, however, it came with a note that the restaurant would be closing soon (early August) for remodeling of both the room and the menu and would re-open sometime in September. If you're planning to go, I would suggest you call ahead and make sure it will be open when you plan to visit the museum.