Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Central Makes me Happy to Live in DC

(Loaves of crusty French bread stacked high in the window at Central)

After another immensely satisfying experience, I can confidently assert that Central remains one of DC’s best restaurant choices. Like its haute parent, Central boasts creative Americanized twists of French bistro fare. I also really appreciate the reasonable variety of wines available by the glass, from which you can find a suitable pairing for any of the menu items. And the seasonal creative cocktails have never disappointed. If you can get over eating while being watched over by a larger than life, fuchsia portrait of Michel Richard, you are no doubt in for dining that lives up to the accolades.

While scoring a table between September through May usually requires advanced planning, with the summer fast approaching, it is much easier to snag a last minute reservation or even a walk-in table. And of course the odds are better at the beginning of the week as B and I experienced Monday night. When the crowds are thinner, the service is also far less rushed.

To start, we enjoyed a leisurely glass of wine (Chardonnay for B, and a Brut Rose for me) along with a pushing-the-season but sill delicious selection of Wellfleet, Prince Edward Island, and West Coast oysters. Their delightful bread (pictured above), baked fresh by a local wholesaler, is the closest thing you can get to the real French stuff in the Washington metro area.

The one issue of the evening was that while our entrees arrived, our wine selections did not and there was about a five minute delay. This is a pet peeve of mine, and it has happened once before here, which is a shame given the likelihood for diners to pair wines depending on their chosen course from the extensive by-the-glass list. But as soon as my wine arrived I quickly got over it.

The salmon I ate is a menu mainstay, but the sides change by the season. The filet, prepared medium, with an almost-caramelized crust was this time set atop barley in a spring onion and cauliflower cream. The subtle texture and flavor contrast worked well. And it reminded me that we have a long way to go as home cooks, since our salmon never comes close; but this a good excuse to come back soon (like we need one!)

B opted for a new choice, the short ribs over al dente and tasting-like (though not sure) homemade papardelle with spring peas and carrots. The short ribs were plentiful and fork tender in a syrah wine reduction. Again, the flavors and textures here complimented each other and made for a satisfying entrée.

This picture says almost everything you need to know about dessert at Central; all choices are good for sharing and the presentations are not subtle. The execution of the food is absolutely flawless.

And a huge, airy, bowl of mousse does not disappoint with a rich chocolate favor, texture provided by the crunchies atop, and a surprise tartness of raspberry sauce (not pictured) on the bottom.

Dinner for two with a half dozen oysters, two entrees, shared dessert, four glasses of wine (one of which was champagne), and one glass of port, tax and tip, was $155.

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