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When Columbus returned to Spain, he brought with him potatoes and spicy chilies, and these two nightshade family members were combined there to make the staple tapas, Patatas Bravas ($7 ***), which means spicy potatoes – hence also the name of the restaurant. The potato chunks are roasted and served in a tongue-tingling tomato sauce aided by a garlicky aioli.
A glass of 2010 Albarino from Rias Baixas is $8 and pairs beautifully with Mussel Escabeche ($9 ***), a small bowl of vinegary, marinated, poached mussels with a chili relish. As your evening hits full fun mode, don’t miss the Romano Beans with Sobrassada Sausage ($9 ***). This raw pork sausage from the Balearic Islands off the Spanish Coast (or from Catalonia on the mainland) has a wonderfully complex flavor. Pair it with the 2007 Izadi Reserva from Rioja for $9 a glass. The romano bean pods are braised in a tomato sauce and there’s a bit of manchego cheese to nail down the pleasure.
One of the most visually interesting tapas is Maitake Mushroom ($10 ***), a feathery fungus sautéed and dotted with fluffed-up fresh goat cheese. A trio of luscious Duck Meatballs ($8 ***) are served like mini burgers on slider buns, embellished with gastronomic fireworks provided by a tomato sofrito and olive puree. Octopus ($16 **) was the most expensive but least pleasing item on a recent night. The flesh was rubbery and accompanying potatoes, smoky paprika and olives spoke more of the earth than the sea.
On the other hand, Lavender Quail ($12 ***) with sherried grapes and honey made an exquisite end to the experience.
To sum up: Bravas goes all out to give customers a successfully authentic Spanish tapas bar experience.
Jeff Cox writes a weekly restaurant review column for the Sonoma Living section. You can reach him at email@example.com.
BRAVAS BAR DE TAPAS
Where: 420 Center St., Healdsburg
When: Open from 11:30 a.m. every day until 9:30 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, to 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and to 9 p.m. Sundays
Reservations: Call 433-7700
Price range: Individual snacks from $4 to $16, so the bill can vary from moderate to very expensive, depending on how much snacking you do
Wine list: **
*** Very good
* Not very good
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