Oh, Central…the things you do to me. I am walking with an added spring in my step this morning, a happy grin plastered all over my face. You did not let me down.
I’ve been trying to eat a proper meal at Central for months, especially since it won the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant this year. I have been for drinks and dessert, but the stars have never alligned for a proper visit. Last night, the Universe was on my side.
We showed up for our 8.30 reservation and they were running a tad behind. We were seated at 8.40 and they were appropriately apologetic. Our server promptly arrived at our table offering water. Wine orders were placed and the bread arrived. Warm and crusty, it was a perfect sourdough. The butter was soft and creamy, which thrilled me. Nothing annoys me more than ice cold butter. Things were looking promising.
Our appetizers were timed perfectly and they set the bar incredibly high for the rest of the meal. I had the chopped salad; it was perfectly dressed with a slightly tangy vinaigrette. The salami in the salad was salty and flavorful and the vegetables were crisp and fresh. My companion had the mushroom risotto and it was amazing. I wish I had a better word, but seriously…it was the perfect risotto. Creamy and perfectly seasoned, the taste of the mushrooms shined throughout the dish without being overpowering. I stole more than a few bites.
For my main course, I had the lamb shank. This was, without a moment of hesitation, the best lamb I have ever had in my life. It was falling off the bone it was so tender. It sat on a bed of creamy polenta which complimented the meat perfectly. A rich, hearty gravy covered the plate. My companion ordered the mussels which were tender and decadent, though he did say they were not the best he had ever had. I agree; Granville Moore’s does a better job, but these were still awesome. The fries that came with the mussels were crispy and not greasy…they would have been perfect except they were underseasoned. Not a huge deal to salt them ourselves, but this seemed like a bit of an oversight and a basic the kitchen should have down.
And desert? Oh God. We shared the banana split, but frankly, it could have fed a family…we didn’t come close to finishing it. The homemade ice creams were divine. The ultra rich dark choclate was so creamy it was almost like frozen mousse and the strawberry sorbet was perfectly sweet without being overpowering. My favorite one was the malted vanilla ice cream; it was sweet and a tad nutty at the same time and it made me want to be a better person. The sundae was covered with chocolate and caramel sauce, pineapples, whipped cream (which was a touch too thick), and MINI WHOPPERS. Oh my goodness, those mini malt balls were sinful and such a whimsical touch. We had to skip the nuts (allergies…), but I can imagine it would have made it even more decadent. I think I am glad we skipped the nuts; I can only take so much excitement.
The service throughout the night was attentive, but unobstrusive. The server gained my respect when he steered me away from one fo the dessert options; I really appreciate when folks are straight with me. The wine list was well priced and he had plenty of suggestions. He actually recommended a cheaper wine to us at one point; there is no better way to earn my trust then to make me feel like you have my best interests at heart. Central is not cheap, but last night was worth every single penny spent. Today, my heart and stomach are happy.