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Story and photos by Lynn Rosen   June 1, 2012

  Bellevue, The Bravern shops  
  As the Brinks truck swings in to pick up its cargo, Valet parking at The Bravern is easy and elegant at the West and North Arrival Courts  
  Mmmmm. A stunning list of “The Shops at The Bravern,”—Neiman Marcus, Jimmy Choo, Salvatore Ferragamo, Hermes, Kreiss, Tory Burch, Brooks Brothers...OK, you get the picture. It was definitely going to be an adventure. I was prepared to be thoroughly intimidated on my first visit to this upscale Bellevue shopping center. It was with a bit of trepidation that I did the hair and makeup thing, dressed UP, took some deep breaths and walked the lovely walk from The Westin to one of the two elegant arrival courts. If I’d driven, valet drivers would’ve safely stowed my car for a nominal fee. Or I could’ve self-parked on one of the seven levels of 36 acres of color-coded parking. (The Bravern provides courtesy golf cart service to your self-parked car...especially helpful when you can’t remember where you parked!)  
  Bellevue WA, The Bravern shops, bottled water   On first glance, The Bravern screams “bring your checkbook, gird your loins.” But you know what? This shopping center couldn’t be more friendly, service-oriented and customer-centered. Their focus from the top down is comfort and courtesy.
Nice note: As you walk through the outdoor European-styled corridors, might you need some hydration? The Bravern offers complimentary bottles of water scattered throughout.
  Thirsty? Just grab a bottle, courtesy of The Bravern      
  Louis Vuitton window display  
  Artistic, eye-catching window displays of Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo seduce shoppers to come inside and take a closer look  
  Jimmy Choo window display  

We see slick ads in the glossies, admire the fabulous images and are hungry to join their throngs. But actually walking into those stores could be daunting.

Don’t be daunted! The entire staff of The Bravern and all its stores are geared for customer-friendly service and that attitude starts from the top.

The concierge service, located on the second floor lobby just outside John Howie Steak, is staffed by three veterans from the hotel concierge scene: exquisitely trained women, all with many years of service in the hotel concierge business. They know how to solve problems and do it with the grace and smooth courtesy that will make every customer feel special and valued. They help visitors with everything from gift ideas, storing packages, hotel and restaurant recommendations and travel assistance.

  Neiman Marcus Butterflies   BravernLobby  
  The Butterfly is the Neiman Marcus logo. They hang in profusion in the store’s atrium. This snugly fireplace lobby is where kids gather for stories, songs and (later) cupcakes from The Trophy Cupcake store  
  Many visitors come to The Bravern for the day as a destination adventure—six hours of free parking, no purchase necessary. They may have lunch at Neiman’s Mariposa while their kids do The Bookworm thing in the nearby fireplace lobby. Mariposa also has a smashing afternoon tea for $23, an especially fun treat for mother-daughter special occasions. (Pre-order one day ahead.)

For shoppers with kids in tow, The Bravern has a number of activities that will give both parents and kids a break. Little Bookworms, a story-telling program, gathers the little guys in the second-level fireplace lounge for stories, songs and snacks, including Trophy cupcakes and a bookmark. Every Wednesday from 11-noon.
  The Neiman Marcus cosmetics department has aestheticians on staff seven days a week and offers complimentary facials/make-overs (by appointment or not) in hopes, of course, that you’ll buy some product. But what a service!   Neiman Marcus Cosmetics  
      Trained aestheticians are on site for every major product line. Make an appointment, or just walk in, for a complimentary facial.  
  More services offered by The Bravern and its knowledgeable concierges include:  
  *On site tours
*Complimentary airline web check-in
*Parking and valet coordination (free 6 hour parking with no purchase necessary)
*Golf cart service to your self-parked car
*Courier service
*Lost and found
*Resource guide for local services
*Wheelchair and stroller service
*Spa reservations
*Special events and theatre tickets
*Tourism information
*Postal services
*Floral services
*Personal shopper recommendations and appointments
Microsoft Quantum Man
Quantum Man out side the Microsoft offices is just one of many art works throughout The Bravern. Concierges are happy to take you on a walking tour of all the art.
  Microsoft is a huge corporate presence at The Bravern, but the major retail anchor is Neiman-Marcus. Other high-end anchors—Jimmy Choo, Hermes, Salvatore Ferragamo also bring many savvy shoppers from north of the border. Vancouver is a large international target market for The Bravern. Many local shoppers do their shopping by phone with personal shoppers in most every store. In fact, the personal aspect of The Bravern is its trademark.

An anecdote demonstrating the attitude that permeates the entire Bravern staff involves a young couple who was celebrating an anniversary by having a special dinner at John Howie Steak. After their meal, they were planning another special treat—dessert at Trophy Cupcakes. Known for its early-morning, baked-fresh-every-day, delicious, work-of-art cupcakes, Trophy is a destination for the cognoscenti. But Trophy closes at 8PM.

A maintenance worker on his evening shift noticed these two lovebirds, staring longingly and sadly at the Cupcake window. He asked if he could help in any way. Long story short, The Trophy, after closing every evening, takes its left-over goodies to the maintenance staff room. After snaking their way through the backstage corridors of The Bravern with Mr. Maintenance, two very happy lovebirds enjoyed delicious desserts and had a great story to share.

After Dark at the Bravern
  Blue Martini Bar, people       Blue Martini Bar, people  
  Blue Martini, projected logo on dance floo   Blue Martini Waitress  
  Blue Martini-ers dance and drink at THE place to see and be seen: The Blue Martini at The Bravern in Bellevue  

After dark at The Bravern is a hoot.

Visit the recently-opened Blue Martini for live music, dancing and any flavor of martini you can dream. It’s a “see and be seen” for sure.

Blue Martini always hosts lots of events that bring in fund-raisers, high-end models, holiday-related parties and just plain fun. Check their event schedule for details at

  John Howie Ira, waiter   John Howie Bacon  

If at all possible, ask for Ira, zee best waitstaff, bar none.


One of John Howie’s signature treats—Tempura fried Kurobuta Bacon with maple sambal ponzu sauce  
  John Howie Flaming Desert   John Howie Steaks  

Table side Bananas Foster—always a flaming huge hit.





Everything STEAK! filet mignon, top sirloin, porterhouse, delmonico, rib-eye, New York strip. Pick your cut or ask for a chef’s sampling. Done exactly to your request.  

John Howie Steak specializes in every kind of steak you could imagine, aged 28, 35 and 42-days. You choose. The variety is overwhelming. Ira chose a flight of steaks for our tasting which, by the way, blew everyone away.

Management and staff at John Howie Steak have a collective pedigree that would pass muster for Queen Elizabeth and President Obama. Hard to compete with the staff, but the food is the real star here. More info and (drool) menus at


BTW—dinner is spectacular, but lunch is just as delish and a bit easier on the budget.


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