By MADOLINE MARKHAM
What exactly is a rotisserie grill? It’s flavorful. It’s fast. It’s family friendly. It’s affordable. Perhaps best of all, it’s real food that’s good for you.
It’s slow-cooked chicken so moist, tender and full of subtle Mediterranean flavor that people come in and order it by itself. It’s lean pork loin and grilled shrimp flavored with the same seasonings as the chicken. It’s the option to get any of these meats on a plate, in a salad or on a sandwich with unbelievably fresh and flavorful sides.
The smell of rotisserie chicken cooking fresh all day long has lured people into Brava Rotisserie Grill’s location in Valleydale Village shopping center a few doors to the right of Publix.
The restaurant’s equally delicious chicken salad is filled with raisins, celery and almonds. With the flavor of the pulled rotisserie chicken as its base, the taste and texture is unlike any of Birmingham’s well-known chicken salad places I’ve tried. The Shrimp Caesar Wrap is also popular.
The taste of the meat leaves no need for sauce. However, the house-made spicy Brava mayo, garlic sauce and romesco sauce are worth the extra calories. The Brava mayo is also the perfect creamy finish to their sandwiches and dipping sauce for the fries.
High schoolers drop by regularly for an after-school snack of their addictive thin-cut fries. “High school kids come in and ask what goes with the fries,” said Barry O’Hare, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Lanier. The fries are tossed in Mediterranean herbs and sprinkled with melted manchego cheese.
Other sides include grilled seasonal veggies fresh from the farmers market, Brava potatoes tossed with herbs, fruit, thick and crisp house-fried chips and salad.
Brava also features a different soup each day. The flavor rotation includes lobster bisque, shrimp and corn chowder, Baja chicken enchilada and white cheddar poblano pepper.
The inspiration for the restaurant came when owners Barry and Lanier O’Hare visited a simple rotisserie restaurant in Costa Brava, Spain (hence, the namesake) years ago for Barry’s brother’s wedding. After owning Subway franchises, they decided to Americanize the rotisserie concept and open it in the family-friendly location in March.
Likewise, the Brava menu is kid-approved, as O’Hares’ third-grade daughter, Maggie, is quick to point out as she eats an after school snack of chicken salad and churros, a type of doughnut tossed in cinnamon sugar. “We have four kids,” O’Hare said. “We knew if we didn’t put food for kids on the menu, we wouldn’t get their parents to come in.” The kids menu includes a chicken wrap, drumstick plate and grilled cheese. Each item comes with a drink and side for $3.
For the adults, Brava also serves house-made sangria, reasonably priced Spanish and Chilean wines sourced by Birmingham-based Grass Roots Wines and a beer selection that includes IPA, Good People, Blue Moon and Sweetwater.
Family-style dinners have quickly become popular. A meal includes a meat, Brava salad and side of the customer’s choosing ($19.99 for four, $24.95 for six). You can stop to request one at any time or call ahead to order it. They also sell chicken salad by the pound ($8.25 per pound).
O’Hare is just as quick to point out the quickness and affordability of the restaurant as he is the unbeatable flavor and healthiness of their food. “With our price point, you can come in for dinner three times a week,” he said, noting that one family of four in the area does just that. The food often makes it to the table before customers have filled their fountain drinks.
For dessert, try a Spanish treat of churros, or for a classic American confection, a slightly lemony yellow birthday cake is topped with fluffy white frosting and rainbow sprinkles. “Because it’s always someone’s birthday,” O’Hare said.
What’s next? The owners are taking catering orders and making plans to expand the patio and add tilapia and wings to the menu. Most of all, though, the overarching goal remains to serve fresh, fast, affordable food for families in the area. “Just come in once and you’ll like it,” O’Hare said.
Brava Rotisserie Grill
5184 Caldwell Mill Road, Suite 205
Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.