Spanish tapas at Bravo - Sheraton Hotel, Abu Dhabi

 As I walk in to Bravo, the Spanish tapas restaurant at the Sheraton Hotel on the corniche in Abu Dhabi, it is the size of the restaurant that immediately makes an impression. Seating around 44 diners indoors, Bravo has a charm about it. I immediately think how perfect it is for a couple or a large group of friends who you are out for a relaxed and casual evening indulging in Spanish tapas. 

My guest and try the Plato de queso y cortes, the Cold cuts. It is a generous portion at a fantastic price. Two Spanish cheeses as well as 2 kinds of Spanish pork, chorizo and jamon serrano.  While I am here for dinner, I could see myself enjoying this cold cut platter with a few glasses of wine. 

Also placed on the table are the Patatas Bravas, which are crispy potatoes. I particularly like the garlic aioli, adding great flavour to the potatoes. Another staple Spanish tapas is the Pan con Tomate, bread rubbed with tomato, garlic and olive oil. Both dishes serve to reinforce the idea of a  super relaxed evening perfect with a glass of wine or a pitcher of sangria. My guest does in fact have the sangria. To my disappointment there is no cava on the drinks list and the alternative, an Australian sparkling does not evoke any excitement, so in the end I choose one of the Spanish red wines on the menu, a 2012 Sangre de Torro from Catalonia. It is a deep rich and spicy red wine that gives me the fullness I am seeking from a red. 

The atmosphere and ambience all complement the laid back feeling in the restaurant. Lighting and of course the Paraguayan guitarist-vocalist add a romantic twist to the evening. But it is not a staid or stiff atmosphere. There is banter, laughter and the sound of cutlery and plates. Nice.

The great thing about the tapas concept at Bravo for those who have not tried it, is that the dishes are superbly priced and as a result you can order quite a few. We also have the Sardinas a la planca. The fresh grilled sardines in lemon sauce have a delicious saltiness about them, but somewhat balanced by the lemon. At the same time, we are also served the Salteado de Setas, or sautéed wild mushrooms. This is probably my favourite dish of the night. The mushrooms just retain so much of their texture and are not overwhelmed by the manchego cheese. 

What is a night out at a Spanish restaurant without paella? So despite feeling quite full, I feel I need to see what Executive sous chef Naoki Katori and his team have done. I try it and I am not disappointed. It is a hearty dish, with the shrimp especially a stand out thanks to its moisture and subtle flavour. None of the elements over power the dish. 

The evening ends with dessert. We have the  Spanish Catalana, or creme brûlée, and it does not quite hit the right note for me because of the consistency, but the Churros con Chocolate especiado, highlighted by the crispy texture of the churros save the dessert side of things - a simple but pleasing dessert.

Bravo is a really a great way to spend an evening. Restaurants in the city are expensive in my mind, and Bravo presents great value for money. Also, it is so nice to move off the beaten track and try something different as there are not many Spanish-influenced options in the city. While the restaurant is showing its age a bit, there is a charm about the place. Bravo is intimate and compact, making for a romantic but lively evening if you excuse the contradiction. 

The Sheraton Abu Dhabi
971 2 677 3333

Tapas and appetisers 17-75 AED
Hot tapas 35-63 AED
Paellas 140-155 AED
Desserts 30-35 AED

Brandon Stoltenkamp
Disclaimer: I consult at restaurants and hotels in an attempt to look at the entire product to take service levels to where they should be. I visited Bravo courtesy of the hotel.