Braven's prime rib will make meat-lovers think they have died and gone to heaven. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUN

JW Marriott Hotel, Edmonton ICE District
10344-102 St.

No listed delivery

Hours:  Mon. to Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 pm., 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Sat. and Sun. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tip and taxes: Basic, $60; loaded, $150

Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns
Service: 4 of 5 Suns


Braven, to our great relief, is all it’s cracked up to be.

The more formal of the lobby-level restaurants in the new, exciting JW Marriott Hotel, Braven is doing an extraordinarily good job of having something for everybody, of offering top-notch quality and dining satisfaction within the “something”.


Its traditional steakhouse selections – the five-to-14-ounce steaks, roast beef, lamb, 14 oz. pork chop, salmon and tuna entrees – are first-rate.  The 12-ounce prime rib is the best in the city.

But there’s also an array of interesting starters, mixing the traditional (steak tartare, artichoke and parmesan) with the adventurous (foie gras French toast, fried squid) with comfort (cornbread, mushroom soup).

Braven creatively offers its selection of raw or cooled seafood starters under an umbrella “ice bar” listing. Ice District. Get it?

The oysters arrived with the most garlicky dipping sauce ever. But good!!!

You can dig into the monster meats for your main, or be more restrained with interesting, non-threatening (and less expensive) entrees such as salmon, jumbo shrimp, a pasta Bolognese with chopped bison and beef. Of course, there’s the obligatory burger and a vegetarian dish.

Prices are closer to a high-end downtown steakhouse than Joey’s, as is to be expected in the formal dining room of a four-star hotel, the restaurant run by one of Canada’s top restaurant groups – Oliver & Bonacini.

That said, the  full-meal-deal options are competitive. Forty-nine dollars will get you the 12 oz. cut of prime rib with veggies, baked potato and a salad/soup starter.  For the same fixed price, $49, you can have a three-course evening, with a choice of appetizer, main and dessert.

Our party of four, after long discussion,  settled on sharing hot and ice bar starters and an ice wedge salad, plus individual entrees of a monster meat (the prime rib), Braven’s already-famous black cod filet, and a jumbo shrimp entrée. A yummy battered/deep-fried cheesecake dessert, smothered in berry compote, was shared by all.

Screetch, maple and sumac transform B.C. black cod into fish fantasy.

The kitchen did not let us down. The coastal oysters were crisp, cool, ringing with freshness and paired with an unbelievably garlicky sauce, yet the garlic was so darned addictive that we just kept on dipping.

The Hamachi sashimi tuna slices were delicate yet lively, having been frypan charred for a matter of seconds, cooled and delivered to our table in the same frypan.

The crab, shrimp and haddock cake is drawn from Braven executive chef Jeremy Korten’s comfort recipes,  yielding a familiar yet delicious crunchy warmth with a spritely dill-pickle tartar sauce like gramma used to make.  Familiar? Yes. Delicious? You bet.

About the luscious, medium-rare, one-inch thick, deeply marbled, hot (i.e. not buffet lukewarm) roast beef, taking up over half its plate, what more can be said but welcome to meat-eaters’ heaven, especially accompanied as it was by an elegant gravy (and leavened in the mouth by a robust Italian red wine).

The accompanying stuffed potato – creamed, buttered, mashed and broiler browned – couldn’t be better. The honey-glazed roasted carrots turned the tolerable into super-tasty morsels.

The maple syrup/screech/B.C. cod filets are not only pure Canadiana, but arguably the tastiest fish filets in town – only Sabor’s fish is as good. The Newfoundland screech with sumac spice is magical,  transforming the maple into a new, rich, savoury sauce that works wonders with this particular fish. The B.C. cod is super expensive ($46) but I’d be hard-pressed not to order it again and again.

The only disappointment was the blanketing of the plate under four tasty garlicky grilled jumbo shrimp with nothing but baby potatoes. The bites of escargot, carefully extracted from the potato field, worked well with the shrimp.

Too many ‘tatters under the jumbo shrimp.

On a Monday night, with no hockey game or concert in the next-door Rogers Place, Braven was still a good two-thirds full.  Defying the notion that young professionals are shunning meat, many tables were composed of young, well-dressed professionals – more women than men –  eating meat to beat the band.

A sweet – in this case deep-fried cheesecake with a berry compote – is necessary to complete a fine dinner.

Braven is expensive, but a drink-avoiding couple on a budget – judiciously sharing two starters and a main – could eat for $60 or $70. Plus the service and ambience are top-drawer.

Braven is a satisfying replacement for the late, great Hardware Grill.

High praise indeed!