BRAVA By Brad Kilgore Redefines the Classics

BRAVA by Brad Kilgore
Photo Credit: Justin Namon

Brad Kilgore needs no introduction. The widely acclaimed chef has been earning awards and accolades left and right — and deservedly so. He’s helped put Miami’s dining scene on the radar and then some.

Now, he’s taken his talents to Downtown Miami and turned theater food on its head with BRAVA By Brad Kilgore, the signature restaurant of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

At first glance, the menu reveals a selection of classic items you’d expect from a traditional fine-dining establishment: a Caesar salad, an heirloom tomato appetizer, lobster, ribeye, etc. But this isn’t your traditional fine-dining establishment. It’s led by a two-time James Beard-semifinalist — one whose creativity and vision has had a resounding impact on the local culinary community.

So throw everything you know about the classics out of the window. “This is something out of an episode of Chef’s Table,” we both said during dinner. That description couldn’t be more appropriate. After scarfing down some delicious rosemary focaccia, Chef Kilgore took us on a journey that had us eating with our eyes and mouths.

Start with the heirloom tomato and never look back. It might sound boring on paper, but it’s magical on plate. The compressed watermelon brightened our palates with unexpected sweetness that was cut perfectly by saltiness from the cheese. What happens when you mix braised beef, ricotta and ravioli? Perfection AKA ricotta raviolo. You will leave nothing on the plate — guaranteed.

Feeling adventurous? The wahoo poke bursts with thai flavors and comes with a “bird’s nest” that’s as tasty as it is fascinating. Our main entrees were no less memorable. The three-day beef rib and the poulet rouge had us arguing over who had the better dish. The beef was flawless with a beautiful char. We liked how the mushrooms and cabbage received just as much attention as the meat and were not mere afterthoughts — seasoning and all. It felt like a complete dish.

Chicken gets a bad rap for being “vanilla,” but the poulet rouge is anything but. Two words: popcorn hollandaise. It sounds strange, but go with it; it’s an experience. Again, the accompaniments are every bit as good as the main attraction on the plate. The acid and tartness from the lemon verbena on the asparagus brings out so much flavor.

It’s all good, but pace yourself. Pastry chef Soraya Caraccioli-Kilgore — Brad’s wife — has three mind-blowing creations for you to enjoy: a chèvre cheesecake, a key lime cube and an araguani ganache. These physics-defying selections will have your senses tingling. Our favorite was the key lime cube, which wasn’t overly tart but just right; eating the meringue with our hands was a lot of fun. #dontjudge

The BRAVA menu is a performance, and you’ll want front row seats to this show. The restaurant deserves a standing ovation for changing our mind about theater food. We definitely won’t be going down the street for dinner anymore.

BRAVA By Brad Kilgore is located at 1300 Biscayne Blvd inside the Ziff Ballet Opera House in Downtown. For hours of operation and more information, visit their official website or call 305-949-6722.