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Central First Timer!

Hey Hounds,

I am FINALLY getting a chance to try out Central this Saturday. I made the reservation over a month ago and still the latest reservation I could get was 6:30pm. Oh well...not complaining because I'm super excited as is my bf who is coming all the way from Detroit for this meal (plus a conference...but that's clearly besides the point).

I also have my $20 Opentable gift certificate to use, so that should help out on the check (btw, does anyone know if I really need to call the restaurant ahead of time to let them know I'm using the gift certificate? Seems silly).

So on to the menu. I have looked at this menu a million times. I know I should get the gourges for an appetizer. Has anyone ever had the crabcake? I'm a little obsessed with leeks lately so that sounded appealing.

My bf will probably get the lobster burger.

I was thinking about the beef cheeks with tagliatelle. Has anyone had it before? Thoughts? Good choice?

Also what is pied de cochon...I'm unfamilar with this dish.

I've never had beef cheeks before but if I remember correctly they are suppose to be a very soft, tender piece of meat correct? Is the sauce made with beef cheek, almost like shredded meat? What is the preperation like? I'm sure I could ask the waiter all of this but I of course need to get the Hounds in put as well. :)

Do they have nightly specials at Central?

Thanks for your help! I'm super excited for this meal and will of course report back.

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  1. I wasn't actually crazy about the cheese puffs... they were the weakest of all the starters we have had. The soft shell crab, onion tart were both better and I think the favorite which was rich and decadent but good was the rillettes and faux gras, which I had to order again next time I went. But it can be a little heavy.

    Beef cheeks are very soft tender. Pied de cochon should be pigs feet which is what it means, but who knows with Richard he is big on faux. The Rabbit with spaetzle is really good, it was much better than my 72 hour shortribs (not on the menu now replaced by beef cheeks), although I was extremely happy it was like mine was awesome, but that was even better. I love the lobster burger... other people haven't liked it as much, I would re-order it in a heartbeat. So that's my 2 cents.

    They do have specials sometimes...

    17 Replies
    1. re: ktmoomau

      This is very helpful. I really want to try the rillettes and faux gras but I'm not sure if I can talk my bf into it. I'm much more into "odds and ends" then he is.

      Your right the short ribs isn't on the menu. I guess its more of a wintery meal...which is too bad because they sounded good.

      1. re: Elyssa

        You might think about the onion tart, it was lighter, but very good, like really thin flatbread with carmelized onions, not bad oniony, it was really good, it makes a good starter. Oh and they bread they start you out with is really good, which I think was another downfall for the gougeres, if you really like bread (french heritage it is in my blood) then the cheese puffs where more meh.

        1. re: ktmoomau

          the menu you see online probably wont be the same menu you get when you go. I would say its about 85-90% the same. i agree the cheese puffs are overrated, and the onion tart was great. The scallops were one of my favorited dishes i have had there and i wouldnt reccomend the tuna burger. enjoy!

          1. re: elegantelliot

            Oh I like the tuna burger--that's one of my favorite things on the menu.

            We were just there for dinner Sunday night with my in-laws and the short ribs are still on the menu. My husband had those and they weren't traditional short ribs. I think he was upset that he didn't order the rabbit again (he loved it last time), but at least he got a couple of bites of his father's rabbit. My mother in law got the loup de mer which was a light fish option. I liked the two bites I had but she also wished she got the rabbit. I enjoyed my tuna burger (mayo on the side) with a side salad.

            To start we got the gougers (I agree that they're not necessary but a nice starter if you're a larger group--I would say avoid them if you're a party of 2), and my FIL got a salad with pecans and goat cheese. He really enjoyed it. Both my husband and MIL got the onion soup which was to die for--both agreed that it was better than at Bistro Francais. I highly recommend it too (from the few bites they let me have). I also like the onion tart but didn't need my own app when we were there most recently. Oh, and I tried the duck appetizer at Taste of the Nation and look forward to getting that when I return to Central.

            We skipped dessert since we were full but in the past I've enjoyed the warm apple cobbler (forget what they call it but it's really yummy) and my husband likes the kit kat bar (I'm not a huge fan of hazelnut).

            Honestly, I didn't think the lobster burger lived up to its hype. It's $32 and not worth it, IMO.

            1. re: KWynn

              Ok so gourges are out. But how about the crab cake? Anyone had it before. I imagine Michel Richard would never allow too much filler :)

              1. re: Elyssa

                I doubt they hand pick fresh crabs to make their crab cakes... that is what really makes a good crab cake, wait to go to somewhere that uses fresh MD Blue Crab for that. Although that might be something you get less often with our crab populations...

                1. re: ktmoomau

                  I know...I saw that on the morning news about the blue crabs being limited this year. All I could see where raising prices and dollar signs.

                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    > I doubt they hand pick fresh crabs to make their crab cakes... that is what really makes a good crab cake

                    I'm not a defender of Michel Richard (I had a disappointing meal at Citronelle), but I have to say that *no* restaurant is going to hand pick fresh crabs to make their crab cakes, even here in Maryland. The good restaurants will buy crab meat that was hand picked by reputable suppliers.

                    1. re: Hal Laurent

                      A place by where I went to school in Westminster hand picks their crab daily for crab cakes actually, I forget the name will try to think of it, think it was Frisco Family Pub. I know he gets crab all year long for his soft shells they are never off the menu, I am not even sure if he uses Bay Blue Crabs... anyone know? I haven't eaten there crab cake just their soft shell... But I meant you want it picked fresh and want it to be local Blues if possible for freshness really is key which I believe you would agree with?

                2. re: KWynn

                  have you had the lobster burger?? i probably would have liked the tuna burger more if i hadnt had that once before. it was SOOO much better :)

                  1. re: elegantelliot

                    I think this Q was targeted at me...?
                    I've had the lobster burger and was unimpressed. I really prefer their tuna burger, and have yet to try the shrimp burger.

                    1. re: KWynn

                      i think i will try the shrimo burger next time I go. I guess i really prefer my tuna raw, thats probably why i didnt love it.

                  2. re: KWynn

                    While someof the items look fairly priced, there appear to be some serious anomalies on their menu:

                    $12 for ICEBERG lettuce?
                    $16 for a hamburger?
                    $18 for mussels?
                    $21 for a crabcake that may not even be fresh?
                    To top it off: $32 for a lobsterburger? The second most expensive item on the menu?
                    Somebody has got to be kidding.
                    (And though I can't see $2 per oyster, I can't argue either - good oysters are hard to come by.)

                    1. re: foodcheck

                      Just so you guys know, the lobster burger is $33 now. And the iceberg lettuce I believe includes blue cheese. In your opinion it still might now be worth $12 but its certainly not just a plain plate of lettuce. They charge similar amounts at many steakhouses.

                3. re: ktmoomau

                  The onion tart is certainly a possibility. Sounds delicious. Also I wasn't aware that they gave you bread as well. The cheese puffs almost sound redundant at that point.

                  I had heard that they originally just offered the gourges as a bread basket type thing and then put it on the menu as an appetizer.

                  1. re: Elyssa

                    They make their own bread and cut it right there in the dining room on a little bread cutter machine. Maybe they just couldn't turn out enough quality gougeres or realized they could make money on them? I went pretty early on my first time they were on the menu then, but I can't remember if they had the bread, I think they did because you need the bread in the bread basket if your order the faux gras and rillettes.

            2. I went on March 14 and also reserved a table through opentable a month in advance. We requested a table with a view of the kitchen and it was wonderful. Watching the chef work definitely increased my appetite.

              We had the fried oysters for our appetizer and it was delicious. Came drizzled with a magnificent tartar sauce.

              The boyfriend had 72 hour short ribs which started out very good but got too heavy and fatty towards the end of the meal. The meat was very tender. I still don't fully understand how they can cook it for so long but still maintain its pink, medium center. Delicious. Fries also came with it which were only average, nothing magnificent.

              I had the fried chicken which came with mashed potatoes and a side salad. The fried chicken was probably the best and healthiest fried chicken I have ever had. It wasn't too greasy and perfect amount crispiness and juiciness. The portion was enormous as it had both white meat and dark meat. It also came with a tangy mustard sauce which was delicious. The mashed potatoes were phenomenal. Fluffy, buttery, and garlicky, just like they should be. I think this was actually my favorite part of the meal. Salad was only ok, the bottom leaves were kind of soggy because I think it was sitting under a heating lamp for a few minutes.

              The kit kat bar is obviously a must. We got this hazelnut ice cream on the side that comes with the kit kat bar, which was the best ending to our delicious meal.

              We didn't have any wine or cocktails, but all the surrounding tables had some type of beverage, whether it be a bottle of wine or bottled water or drinks from the bar.

              Enjoy your meal there, I certainly did :)

              2 Replies
              1. re: mh1188

                Good call on asking for a table with a view of the kitchen. Hopefully we can still get that...I just sent a note to the restaurant.

                And we will most certainly be getting the kit kat! I loved the one a Cordoroy so I of course have to compare :)

                1. re: Elyssa

                  Definitely consider the pied de cochon - deconstructed pig "trotters" that you will love. The server will give you a good description. Had it for lunch and although I thought I could not finish it, I could not stop. Salads are a little expensive in my oponion, as is the lobster burger. Breads and desserts are good. I will go back. Many tables in the back have a view of the kitchen.

              2. Re: Your OT certificate question- I used one about two weeks ago at Proof, and didn't tell them anything in advance, just put the OT certificate + the credit card in the sleeve once our check came. I think it would be the same if you had an AmEx gift card, a traveler's check, etc. - meaning you don't have to tell them ahead of time, they should accept it as they would any other form of payment. I will say though, that our server came back and asked me to sign the back of the check - which seemed weird because usually the person receiving a check signs the back to endorse it...? So, just something to keep in mind- if they come back with the gift certificate- don't panic! It might just be the same thing happens to you, haha.

                I agree that the gougeres aren't all that, especially if you don't eat them fast enough (there are a lot in the cone) because they get cold very quickly, in my opinion. I think when I went we got the hangar steak and the fried chicken, both of which tasted great.

                OH! If you're a fan of chocolate at all, get the Kit Kat dessert!!! Some friends have said it's too sweet/rich, but in my opinion, a fun and tasty way to end the night :o)

                Have fun!

                1. Elyssa, everyone on here knows i'm not a Central fan but the food isn't the #1 reason i'm not a fan. Having said that, you should know that the beef cheeks are VERY fatty...i'm told by folks who eat meat more than i do that any type of 'cheeks' have marbled fat in them. However i asked about it ahead of time (waitress) and was told they were not fatty; but they most certainly WERE. So know that going into it. IT was inherent in the meat fibers so you coudn't even eat around it. The tagliatelle wasn't very good either. But the wine sauce was yummy. My hubby's steak and frites were much better than what i got. And the cheese puffs were cold.
                  So yeah, i guess the food WAS one of the reasons i'm not a fan. But the din in there is the biggest reason.
                  I'm glad you are finally getting to try it though. Will be interested in your review afterward.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: DCDOLL

                    Always beware of beef or veal "cheeks" anywhere - usually fatty. Unless that's what you want.

                    1. re: foodcheck

                      Good to know. I certainly don't want fatty beef. So I probably will get something else.

                      1. re: Elyssa

                        Get the rabbit, if you like rabbit, of course we got it the night before Easter and then we had no Easter baskets, (shock) I guess we assumed the risk, or consumed it :)

                    2. re: DCDOLL

                      I did not find the beef cheeks fatty actually. I would describe then more as very very tender and extremely flavorful. The tagliatelle was very good as well and the sauce to die for. That being said, they are more fatty than say a filet mignon, and if that is your favorite cut of steak you may not like the beef cheeks. But IMO they were the best entree I've had there.

                    3. I have pretty much liked everything- some favorite have included the crab cake (devine, little filler and soooo tasty), the salmon and tuna carpaccio (this simple yet flavorful dish was a big hit even amongst the non-sushi eaters at the table), the mushroom cous cous "risotto" (it is an app. but we get it as a side to share). For mains, I had the salmon last week and it was wonderful. The shortribs are another favorite. My boyfriend has had the beef cheeks and really liked them (so much that I never got a taste). My boyfriend's mom got the scallops she RAVED about them while his grandmother got the soft shell crab special, which she gave high marks as well (so yes, they do have specials).

                      For dessert, do not miss the kit kat bar; the apple pan dowdy is also a favorite, as is the banana split. The only miss I have ever had was a caramel creme brulee- the texture just wasn't right for me.

                      P.S.- Make sure you try one of Justin's amazing cocktails- he is one of my favorite mixologists and I really don't think anyone does it better :)

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: JAC13

                        I agree about the caramel creme brulee - it was the only thing I've ordered that was not excellent. It was more the flavor than the texture for me though - it tasted burnt all the way through.

                        1. re: JAC13

                          If you think he is the best mixologist ever, you have never been to the bar at Eve or PX, oh my...

                          1. re: ktmoomau

                            Re-read my post- my language wasn't quite as strong as that. I said "one of my favorites." I have been to both Eve and PX and I think Todd Thrasher is a genuis and obviously no one in the area is as well-known or celebrated as Thrasher is where mixology is concerned.

                            That being said, I believe Justin is someone to watch. His drinks are so creative and he finds and uses really cool, off-beat ingrediants (last time, for example, he had creme de ginger). Also, his knowledge of and passion for spirits is incredibly impressive- I always get an education....