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“Fantastic food, impeccable service, um, interesting pairings...” 5 of 5 stars
Review of BRABO Restaurant

BRABO Restaurant
Lorien Hotel & Spa, 1600 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
703.894.3440
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Ranked #10 of 650 Restaurants in Alexandria
Price range: $31 - $50
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Restaurant details
Good for: Romance, Bar scene, Doing business, Special occasions, Entertaining clients
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Late Night, Dessert
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Harvard St
Transit: Metro one block, free trolley
Arlington, Virginia
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
“Fantastic food, impeccable service, um, interesting pairings...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2014

We did the tasting menu for four with my parentw, who had brought a couple of special bottles of wine which were accommodated for a reasonable corkage fee while I decided to try the chef/sommelier pairing.

The bison first course was incredibly flavorful, and the paired sparkling pinot was an interesting choice. The start of a theme for the evening, the pairing didn’t so much compliment the dish as it did stand on its own as an event unto itself. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on perspective, but I enjoyed the sparkling as much as I did the dish. The meat was meaty. So was the sparkling pinot.

Next came an English Pea Soup. And I’m just going to say it: Best. Pea. Soup. Ever. Whether it was the ricotta or the tarragon cream I can’t say, but the dish was delicious. The Italian pairing was, as I put it, ‘inoffensive,’ and did not get in the way of the incredible dish.

The grouper with globe artichoke was lovely and generous. The largest dish of the night, it was tender and flavorful, although my mother thought the dish would have worked better with a more flakey fish. I had no complaints. The paired Gemischter, with a tart start and sweetish finish continued the theme of the wine competing with, rather than complimenting, the dish.

Next was seared tuna au poivre with a Rhone Syrah. We called this the bacon course. Bacon under the tuna. Bacon wine. And, as we all know, everything is better with bacon. But is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? Both the dish and the wine were over the top. Together they were decadent. Again, not that I’m complaining.

The lamb course was the pairing of the evening. The Italian red had just enough acid to clear the palate of the cream under the lamb. I can’t recall the grapes, but the wine was called Iacco, and for the first time in the meal I felt like the chef and sommelier really hit a home run with the pairing.

Neither the rose opera cake nor the dessert wine was cloying, making them both gratifying.

Ultimately, the food was fantastic. The pairings…well, ran the gamut from a perfect complement to the food to overwhelming the food.

Beyond the food and pairings, the service was impeccable. The atmosphere is modern urban, but slightly form over function. The chairs, while lovely, are a little too low. There are rectangular four tops that are intimate but also circular four tops where diners are quite far away from each other. Because the restaurant is attached to a hotel, there was a mix of dressy locals (ourselves included) as well as tourists dressed in everything from ties to sweatshirt.

  • Visited April 2014
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Matty F, Manager at BRABO Restaurant, responded to this review, April 29, 2014
Hi,

Thank you so much for the kind and detailed review of your experience at Brabo! It sounds like you enjoyed the food very much. Our very talented Sommelier, Matthew Carroll, often avoids the "obvious" pairing in favor of choosing something a little more unique or off the beaten path. While we strive to find complimentary pairings that "work" in one way or another, that is a very subjective thing, as you know. The wine served with the lamb course, which you seemed to enjoy the most, is a Primitivo from a producer in Puglia, Italy, named Calosm.

We hope to see you again sometime soon!

Cheers,
Matty
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313 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
“Excellent is right word!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2014 via mobile

I took my husband here for his birthday and we had a wonderful time. The service was very good -- helpful but not intrusive. I wish I could remember the name of our waiter, who knowledge of the menu helped us make our decisions. Matthew, the sommelier offered great advice and we drank a really fine wine that added much to the meal. We look forward to our second visit in a couple of weeks to celebrate our daughter's college graduation.

Visited April 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Matty F, Manager at BRABO Restaurant, responded to this review, April 29, 2014
Patricia,

I'm so glad you and your husband enjoyed his birthday dinner at Brabo! I believe your server this past Saturday evening was Greg. I'll pass along your compliments to both him and to Matthew, our Sommelier. We look forward to helping you celebrate another wonderfully special occasion in a few weeks!

Cheers,
Matty
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wilmington, Delaware
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Great Food In A Relaxed Atmosphere”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2014

We don't normally eat at hotel restaurants but we were thrilled with Brabo. Wonderful relaxed service and tremendous food. We enjoyed the halibut and the sweetbreads particularly on the new spring menu. And when the wine we ordered from the wine list was out of stock, the waiter not only apologized but helped us find an even better alternative and then put a glass on the house due to the inconvenience!

Later in our visit we ate at Restaurant Eve down the street. While I would rate the food comparable, the service at Brabo was so much more relaxed (a very strong positive in our opinion). We'll definitely go back to Brabo when our travel takes us back to DC.

  • Visited April 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Matty F, Manager at BRABO Restaurant, responded to this review, April 23, 2014
Peter,

Thank you so much for the kind words about your recent visit to Brabo! I love that Halibut dish, and I'm so glad you enjoyed it as well. We look forward to seeing you next time you get back to Alexandria!

Cheers,
Matty
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Alexandria, Virginia
Top Contributor
63 reviews 63 reviews
35 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Top notch Old Town Restaurant”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2014

If you love mussels - you will not want to miss these! Great cocktails, delicious food and great service.
The dinning room is very pretty - and it does not get to loud in there - good place for a conversation.

  • Visited February 2014
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Matty F, Manager at BRABO Restaurant, responded to this review, April 18, 2014
Just a quick note to say "Thanks!" for the nice review of Brabo. I'm so glad you enjoyed the mussels and cocktails and were able to have a nice, relaxing conversation. We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Cheers,
Matty
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Alexandria, Virginia
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“High end and they know it”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2014

Brabo is a great resturant -- fantastic food and over the top service. Some of their menu items are unique for old town which makes them a good place to go. They can be a little snobby at times because they know they are that good. My advice is to put up with it because its a great place.

  • Visited December 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Matty F, Manager at BRABO Restaurant, responded to this review, April 18, 2014
Mark,

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback about your experience at Brabo. While I'm so glad you enjoyed the food, I'm disheartened to hear that you felt the service was "snobby." I look forward to sharing your review with our team as a reminder that we need to be "over the top" in a good way! It's important to be reminded sometimes not to take ourselves so seriously...thanks for the nudge! I hope we'll see you again soon...

Cheers,
Matty
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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