Centro on an expense account...what should I have?
Tis the season when Bay Street fetes their clients, and I'm lucky enough to be taken along to a meal with my boss on Monday night. Being Monday, there is not much to choose from, and so we are being feted at Centro.
Never been there, and don't know much about it. And not much activity on this board that I could find. Indeed, what was there was not that positive (or negative): so, any recommendations/comments?
Keep in mind that if you are of the opinion that I should "save my money", I already am! If it's not good, what's the best path through?
No idea about Centro, but if in doubt I order things that are hard to mess up - raw oysters, steak.
I was at Centro at the beginning of November for a special occasion meal - it was not free but it was worth every penny. We started with the "perfect oysters" as an appetizer, my partner had the rack of lamb and I had the beef tenderloin.
The setting, service and food were truly first class.
I was recently (Dec 2nd) treated to Centro for my husband's office Christmas party.
There were only ten of us in the party. We were seated in the main floor immediately upon arrival. I found the seating to be very comfortable, however, every time someone opened the front door I would feel a blast of cold air on my back.
A note aside from the food - although I generally like the decor, I found the neutrals and beiges in the room cast an unflattering light on the diners. I think I'm the only one who noticed it though.
The bread baskets were nicely presented, but the actual bread and butter was a little boring. The flat bread with herbs and garlic was ok on its own, but would have been better with some sort of accompaniment.
Next we received an amuse bouche - a single rice roll with raw fish. I had to pass because I'm pregnant, so they sent what appeared to be a small portion of the buffalo milk, heirloom tomato and balsamic dressing appetizer as a replacement. It was very good.
The drinks and appetizers were fairly fast to arrive after this. I ordered the baked goats cheese with roasted bell peppers and pesto and was not disappointed. My husband ordered the foie gras and he was quite pleased with his choice - it was indeed very flavourful and melt-in-your-mouth. Almost everyone else at the table ordered the black tiger shrimp tempura and there were no complaints.
The timing between the appetizers and mains seemed long to me, however, I think the smokers in our group appreciated having some time to take a break outside.
For my main I ordered the pan-roasted beef tenderloin, porto bello mushroom and black truffle jus. It was cooked to a perfect medium rare and the accompanying jus was very good. My husband ordered the roasted venison loin, celeriac puree cherry chutney with balsamic. He thought it was "okay", but nothing "spectacular".
He may have been put off by what happened with the side dishes. He was a bit surprised when his side dish was placed at the other end of the table and he instead wound up with onion rings, which he had not ordered. The waitress later explained that we were supposed to share. Do most people going to Centro know this in advance? It was news to us. If it was posted in the menu I did not see it.
In any case, I have no problem with sharing - in fact, it's a great way to sample more than just one or two sides. However, it would have been nice if I could have "sampled" what I ordered. I never did get a chance to try my second side dish choice - the wild mushrooms.
For the first time I went with a cheese dish for dessert. I was hoping to try as many of the cheeses as I could, so I asked if they could serve half portions. Nope. This may be typical of most restaurants - I've never ordered cheese for dessert before. I decided on the Artisan Trio of cheeses. I'm not the best judge of cheeses, but these seemed quite good to me.
My husband had the chocolate lovers trio and was a tad disappointed with it (he wished he had ordered the trio of brulees).
Overall presentation of dishes was quite appealing, the food itself well prepared although the portions were on the small side for my taste. The service was professional and courteous.
That said, when a friend of mine asked me what I thought of Centro I had to work hard to remember what I had ordered! Nothing really stood out as spectacular. I guess I was biased walking in there - I've only ever heard good things about Centro and I had nothing but the highest expectations.
A friend of mine happened to go to Centro two days before I did. She was there with 6 others to celebrate a friend's birthday.
Her table was closer to the door than mine was, so one of her first comments was about the draft. She also mentioned that the portions for her pasta dish (sorry, I can't remember which one) seemed small for the money.
One of the waiters spilled jus on the birthday boy's shirt as he was clearing the table. The waiter didn't notice the error and when the birthday boy mentioned it they wound up in a heated disagreement. As a result of the error, the party were offered a "special dessert". While they awaited the dessert, the group requested to speak with the manager and wound up in yet another heated exchange. The party left without waiting for dessert. Centro comped them a bottle of wine, but they left with a very sour taste in their mouths. Needless to say my friend will not be returning.
At the end of the day I'm not sure I would want to spend that kind of money on food that is anything less than spectacular. Centro meets but does not exceed expectations in any one category. Therefore I would not return there any time soon (unless someone else were paying).