Bravas Bar De Tapas: Man of La Plancha

Bravas Bar De Tapas

Bravas Bar De Tapas

Bravas Bar De Tapas: We’ve all gotten a bit to comfortable with the term tapas. Spanish for “cover”, it originally referred to slices of bread, meat and cheese served atop a glass of wine or sherry to keep the flies out of your cocktail (or so the legend goes).

What its turned into is anything served on a saucer-sized plate — from sushi to nachos. And folks, that ain’t tapas. After a recent trip to Spain, restaurateurs Mark and Terri Stark decided to bring the concept of true Spanish tapas to Sonoma County, opening Bravas bar de Tapas in late 2012.

What that looks like: Sangria, cider and wine with served with bites of paper-thin Iberico ham and Manchego cheese; “boqueronnes” or fresh anchovy filets with olive oil; roasted leeks with Romesco sauce; marinated mussels with chili relish; creamy chicken croquettes, cider braised chorizo or slices of tomato and garlic-rubbed toast. Along with the hot and cold tapas are heartier dishes cooked on a flat griddle called a plancha that include local sardines, Monterey calamari, skirt steak with red onion marmalade or quail with lavender. Dishes are between $8 and about $12 each (Iberico ham and steak are a bit higher but worth it).

It’s a menu filled with brassy, bold flavors that do the cha-cha through your mouth and leave no question that you’ll need a breath mint or two before getting familiar with friends or co-workers.  It’s a departure from the usual Wine Country lineup, but the basic building blocks of the menu (shrimp, pig ears, fried duck eggs, Dungeness crab, sardines, skirt steak, seafood ceviche) are ingredients the Starks have a proven track record of cooking to perfection at their other restaurants (Willi’s Wine Bar, Willi’s Seafood, Monti’s, Stark’s Steakhouse).

Inside, the former Ravenous space has been transformed but is also familiar. The signature orange walls remain, given a modern update with dark gray accents and swirling, psychedelic posters from the San Francisco’s Fillmore that nod to Spanish painters like Picasso or Miro — which are bound to be extra groovy after a few glasses of Cava.

Outdoors, a revamped patio and bar are ready for year-round use. Just look for the neon sign beckoning you with the glowing words, Jamon In.

Bravas Bar de Tapas, 420 Center St., Healdsburg, 707-433-7700.

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Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, BiteClubEats.com is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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14 Comments

  1. A group of 9 of us went to celebrate a birthday a couple of weeks ago. The new look is fabulous and I for one will hanging out back there come next spring/summer. Service by Katy (?) was excellent and attentive. We tried a couple of gin cocktails which were excellent! We ordered so many dishes I can’t quite keep them straight but loved everyone of them!! Crispy Pig Ears, Anchovy Vinaigrette (ask for the vinaigrette on the side if you aren’t a fan) but don’t miss trying them,Octopus, Fingerlings, Smoked Paprika, Olives, Creamy Chicken Croquetas, Cider Braised Chorizo, Padron Peppers were just some of my favorites. Yes, the servings are small but not that small that you can’t share! Loved it!

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  2. My mom and I had the pleasure of going here for their soft opening on Halloween evening. The staff was great. Our waitress was informative, fun, and gave us the perfect amount of time to enjoy our plates before checking on us inbetween. We tried almost every cocktail on their menu and each was unique, tasty, paired beautifully with their plates, and wasn’t overbearingly strong. Food is such an individual taste, I’m not going to try to sell anyone on anything. I personally enjoy spanish cuisine and Bravas hit the spot. The pan tomate was my personal favorite! Enjoy!

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  3. Giant hoofed ham on the backbar, guy in a hat with a knife going to town on it, his shirt says ham boner… Cuz that’s what he’s doing.

    I think the place will be around a while, several people were braving the forty-five degree weather under heaters on the patio last night to make sure they got some crispy pig ears.

    I’ll be honest it’s a bit of a culture shock food wise, it’s almost like being in Spain. Try the octopus!

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  4. Rent is expensive in Healdsburg, but while I’ll freely admit I enjoy the Stark’s various restaurants, we rarely go to any of them because we all think they are wildly overpriced.
    Their Steakhouse in Santa Rosa, is the best deal overall.

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  5. hahahahahahahahahhahaahahahah

    Dishes are between 8-12$ although they might not want to serve nachos and big plates, do they really think anyone that enjoys “tapas” considers a plate that is expensive and small to be tapas? Tapas are intended to be something available, something seasonal, something local and something one can enjoy as a snack on the way home or something to put in your belly before you have some drinks.

    Jamon Iberico is very expensive, and there is no way I’d pay that much unless I could see the ham with the black hoof attached–you know what I’m talking about.

    Prediction:Within six months, they’ll start selling some sort of nacho, prociutto instead of Jamon Iberico.

    Best of luck Bravas, I’ll be by for Jamon, but I have a full ham on order, ordered 7 months ago, of my very own black hoofed snack. You best not be using a Hobart to slice that ham….cause the experts use razor sharp knives to get that paper thin mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

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    • Glad someone else said it first! Overpriced, for starters And uninspiring dishes. Tapas should be two bites and two dollars. Ten bucks for a grilled sardine, not even filleted? Not a bad place for drinks but plan on picking up take away on your way home.

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    • Unoriginal. Come up with some new material Stephen.

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    • I predict that in six months Stephen will still be alone carving on his imaginary black hoofed snack

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  6. Yes, the old Ravenous space but that is where the sameness stops! This place is fun, the back bar (one of two) is sooooo much fun and the food is creative and incredibly tasty. My new place to meet folks for a fun night out.
    No, I don’t work for the company, I just love this place.

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  7. Looks like the former Ravenous location by the pictures.
    Opens today huh? Going to tell us where it is?

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    • Yes. This is the old Ravenous location

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      • Gotta leave a little mystery. But yes, old Ravenous.

  8. Had the luck to try it out today. The Starks have done it again! Innovative, delicious, fun.

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