The winning dishes for us were the foie gras soup and the lamb belly with broccoli and sesame granola. To make the lamb belly, Sbraga alternates lamb breast with fat in thin layers, cooked to perfection and served with the crunchy granola on top. It results in a striking combination of flavors and textures. Sort of like pork belly, but meatier and possibly more gratifying.
I wish we asked what goes into the foie gras soup broth because it was just divine. Distinct from any flavor we've had before. Literally stops you mid-slurp to ponder about how unique it is.
|Meatloaf (Jason Varney/Sbraga)|
The clams were also quite good, particularly the accompanying fennel sauce. If Sbraga offered baskets of bread there is no doubt every last drop of that sauce would have been gone. Though at the beginning of the meal you get a warm, flaky homemade popover, so consider asking for seconds. The clams come with orecchiette, which was a good in concept however my pasta came undercooked. It was the only food-related slip of the night but I got over it because I needed every bite of chewy pasta to soak up the sauce.
|Eggplant Terrine (Jason Varney/Sbraga)|
The Eggplant Terrine is a good choice for the first course. Sbraga layers eggplant, goat cheese and roasted tomato in a way that tastes great on its own, without the black garlic you see off to the side in this photo. I love garlic, but didn't care much for the black garlic here. Bradd tried the Fish and Chips for his second course. He really enjoyed its light flaky batter and the cauliflower remoulade.
Desserts at Sbraga are all made by Chef Sbraga's wife, Jesmary. The Hot Chocolate hit the spot, offering a warm moist chocolate cake and butter pecan ice cream. I could do without the cranberries at the bottom though - adding ice cream is cool, but otherwise I like to leave my chocolate as is. Bradd enjoyed the mascarpone with coffee granita.
A key tip, both for Sbraga and future diners: the menu needs some clarification. Ask your waiter to describe dishes that appeal to you because, for example, the menu doesn't say there's goat cheese in the eggplant so if you don't like or can't eat goat cheese, you wouldn't know. Also, the chicken entree is fried, which did NOT please a lady at a table near us. The dessert listings are more like ingredient lists, too. I like a little mystery, but it was helpful to ask for a few details before ordering.
Since it was the first week, I'll give Sbraga a break on some service kinks. It took while to even order drinks, let alone dinner. We were happily surprised, though, to realize our full meal lasted nearly two hours. They brought the food out at a good pace and didn't chase us out even though the bar was packed with people waiting to sit. The tables, however, are way too big - at least those along the windows. Bradd and I felt like we were a mile apart and had to speak loudly to make up for it. Others around us commented on the distance immediately upon sitting down, too. The restaurant is not that big, and traffic jams were quite common in the aisles. They'd be well served to chop off about 8 inches from each table.
|Chef Sbraga at work in the kitchen (center, without a hat). I took this one!|
The cocktail menu is coming and wine list growing. Sbraga had just recieved its liquor license before opening on Friday so the options were slim. That's no biggie to us however it was disappointing to get an awfully small pour for a $10 glass of wine. We paid the same at Meritage the weekend before and got much more wine in each glass. Same with Tria. What do you think - is it rude to speak up about such a small pour? It happened twice but I didn't say anything...
For the average diner, Sbraga's prix fixe menu is great for a nice night out. It's not ideal for large groups, children or if you're looking for a modestly priced, hefty dinner. If you're in the mood for a smaller well-executed meal, before the theatre perhaps, hit up the kitchen bar and pick two items off the a la carte menu. I warn you now it will be a tough choice!
440 South Broad Street