I think it’s fair to say that Bravas, located on Cotham Hill, is one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of 2012. Owners Kieran and Imogen will already be familiar to those of you who have attended one of their fantastic supper clubs, at which their aim was to trial various tapas dishes that would then make their way onto their restaurant menu.
Over the last few months, it has been interesting to follow the pair’s progress via their blog, where they’ve been chronicling their conversion of the old Zorba’s Greek Taverna into something with a far more Spanish feel – including the use of fewer vine leaves(!). After ripping out the old interior, a great deal of time and care was spent creating their perfect venue – and they’ve done a hell of a lot of it themselves. The whole place has a very welcoming, homely feel to it: bare wooden tables, the old restaurant seats reupholstered with Extract Coffee sacks (courtesy of Imogen), and massive floor to ceiling shelves on one wall, crammed with cookbooks, large tins of chickpeas and tomatoes, bottles of wine and various Spanish curios.
At the opposite side, the bar sits in front of a beautiful exposed brick wall, and houses a range of spirits and a 100% Spanish wine list, along with Bristol Beer Factory beers to complement their Spanish range, and local cider. From here, those sitting at the bar can see through to the semi-open plan kitchen, which houses the plancha (flat top grill) which is chef Imogen’s pride and joy.
It’s just as well that we booked, as every table – in addition to all of the seats at the bar – was full, leading to a lively atmosphere. It was good to hear some Spanish being spoken by some of our fellow diners too.
The tapas menu itself is a simple one page affair, divided into nibbles, vegetables, fish/seafood, meats and sweets.
With prices per dish ranging from £1.95 to £6.75, the three of us dining on the evening managed to satiate our appetites for only around £10 each – an absolute bargain.
Of the selection we ordered, the tortilla was pronounced by one friend to be “the best she’d ever had”, lovely and moist compared with the majority of tortillas that we’ve been served in Spanish restaurants in England, and served with a beautifully pungent aioli. The pork was pink and juicy with a great chargrilled flavour from the plancha, and the chorizo in cider was a massive hit with our resident cider fan.
The only complaints were with the crab: not in terms of how it was cooked, but with the relative lack of meat and the fact that some of the claws could have done with being cracked a bit more (he used his teeth in the end…).
A small point, maybe, but I loved the fact that our patatas bravas were served with their accompanying tomato sauce in a separate dish, which saved the potatoes themselves from going soggy before we had a chance to finish them.
In terms of desserts, salted chocolate truffles are currently the only sweet option available. Described by one of my friends as “one of the nicest things I’ve ever eaten”, these were so good that we had to order a second portion. We did comment, though, that it would be good to see a few more simple Spanish dessert options available on the menu.
As I said before, the migration from supper club to restaurant has been long-awaited, and Kieran and Imogen have done a fantastic job. Great food, a great atmosphere and fantastic prices…what more could you want?
Find Bravas on the Bristol Bites Directory…