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Apr 20, 2009 02:07 PM

Going to Proof and Central: What to order?

We will be in Washington the weekend of May 2, and we have reservations at Proof and at Central. Everything on the restaurant's menus looks great, but does anyone have any specific recommendations on what to order at each of these restaurants?

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  1. At Proof, get a charcuterie plate and/or a cheese plate for an appetizer. Take advantage of the small pours to taste many different wines.

    Oh, and if you're a guy, make sure to check out the decor in the men's room. You can thank me later. (If you're a woman, please disregard and do not look at your man funny for making repeated trips).

    1. At central get the faux gras and duck rillettes.

      Everything else is good too.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ktmoomau

        I agree with this. They are served as a combo. A signature dish. If they have softshell crabs, then they are a definite.

        The only thing I would NOT order at Central is the Lobster Burger. Not because it's bad, but because it's disappointing compared to the the tuna burger.

        1. re: Steve

          I've got to disagree with you, Steve. I wasn't a huge fan of the Tuna burger. The lobster burger was delicious, but I think even that may pale in comparison to the regular beef burger.

      2. At Proof I really like their gnocchi appetizer. They change it seasonally but everytime I've had it, it's been delicious. The cheese plates are also really nice for an appetizer or dessert. The tuna tartar is good as well. I tend to think the appetizers are better then the main courses at Proof, so maybe sticking it a bunch of small plates and sharing would be a good idea.

        At Central, I have yet to have anything on the menu I didn't like. The short ribs are amazing. The lobster burger is really good but very, very rich. The faux gras and rillettes are my favorite item on the menu....beware it's very big! The kit kat bar for dessert is a classic and a lot of fun. Really, I don't think you can go wrong on the Central menu---it's all very good.

        Please make sure to report back :)

        4 Replies
        1. re: Elyssa

          Elyssa, when have you had the short ribs at Central? They're not on the menu. The first time I went to Central I seemed to remember having read a review that raved about the short ribs. But they were not on the menu. I asked about them and was told that they hadn't been on the menu since the early days of the restaurant. They were kind enough to prepare some for me that were part of a special dinner they'd done the night before and they were really fabulous. In my subsequent visits I haven't asked about them --maybe I should?

          1. re: Lauman

            I had it about a year it's been awhile. They were really interesting short ribs...unlike any I've ever had before. If I remember correctly they were cooked for a super long time---like 24 hours or something. Not on the bone. Not what I expected but they were excellent. They should put them back on the menu.

            1. re: Elyssa

              They were 72 hour short ribs, they had them last year at Easter time because we had them. But I have to say the beef cheeks are just as tender and soft. Also the lamb shank with polenta is great, the shank just melts with the polenta in your mouth, although if you get this get a green side as you may want for veggie, or start with a salad.

              I love those short ribs, I also love the rabbit with schnitzel, the mustard gravy is the best mustard gravy I have ever had, I just can't recreate it... yet. It isn't gloopy or too mustardy, it is very subtle. The rabbit is cooked perfectly, as well.

              The goat cheese salad is very good, they stuff the dressing inside the cut lettuce, can't be good for you at all, but very tasty if you like goat cheese, they make it into a creamy sauce. The chicken is good, but chicken. Fiance loves chicken so he really loves it, I am more into other meats. I love the lobster burger, the steak and frites are lovely, those fries are heaven, the lardon tart is very good, very thin, but the onions really balance the flavors so that it is a little sweet a little salty in a good savory way. The mussels are good, but I like Brasserie Beck's better.

              I don't really care for the gougeres (cheese puffs) compared to so many of the other things on the menu. To me they are just dry puffs of thin melted cheese... ok but not special.

              The hazelnut bar (aka kit kat) is good, the banana split is good but huge... enough for three.

              1. re: ktmoomau

                I think they use the same mustard gravy on their pig's feet, which are deboned, mixed with mushrooms, breaded and fried. Super filing and one fo the best deals on the menu at under $20.

        2. i love the pork loin and risotto at proof; also the meatballs and goat cheese agnolotti are great if you're a meatball person. the grilled cheese is AMAZING — i think they use like 16 different types of cheese in it — and the bavarian sandwich is pretty good if you're in the mood for a casual sandwichy type thing. the charcuterie plate there is very good, one of the best in the city IMO. everybody loves the tuna tartar, it is very good if you're a fan of that particular dish.

          1 Reply
          1. re: littlew1ng

            I did not know they had grilled cheese at Proof!! I want to try it!
            Proof- cheese plates and gnocchi.
            Central- cheese puffs and lobster burger.

          2. I've had...

            duck rillettes w/faux gras - excellent
            charcuterie plate - excellent
            gougeres - very good (kids like them)
            spinach and goat cheese torte - excellent

            corned beef sandwich - (lunch) excellent
            cheese burger - reason I first went; amazing I get it every other time I go
            lobster burger - very good, but the burger is amazing at 1/2 the price
            fish & chips - very good
            fried chicken - excellent
            pied de cochon - excellent
            lamb shank - excellent
            short ribs - excellent
            grilled sausages with mashed potatoes - very good
            cassoulet -- excellent
            ribeye - very good

            kitkat bar - excellent
            banana split - excellent (for at least 2 people)
            chocolate mousse - excellent
            apple pan dowdy - very good
            chocolate lava cake - excellent

            sides are all excellent: mashed potatoes, green salad, macaroni and cheese, fries

            The macaroni and cheese is something my kids will order as their meal. I can't imagine ordering it with something else because it's so rich.


            7 Replies
            1. re: dacfood

              Thanks for the wonderful recommendations. It appears that we will be happy ordering almost anything at Central - which is great. I'm looking forward to it. I need more advice about Proof, though. I was looking forward to the charcuterie plate, and I'm glad the hounds seem to approve. What else should we get? Any other recommendations for mains or desserts?

              1. re: tlubow

                Is it possible with all of the attention that it gets that the food at Proof is actually underrated? I think so.

                They have a ton of great appetizers and I have loved every entree I have ever had there. Here are my recs:

                Ahi Tuna Tartare - Really wonderful version with avocado and wasabi; excellent
                Gnocci- Changes frequently; always incredible
                Foie Gras - Seared with poached apples; excellent (although I've never met a foie gras dish I didn't like)

                The only thing I would stay away from is the Buffalo Sweetbread appetizer. Your waiter will recommend it as one of the most popular appetizers. That may be true, but it is not one of their best dishes. The buffalo sauce they cook the sweetbreads in is all you can taste. Not a fan of this dish at all.

                Miso Glazed Sablefish - very very very good. You can really taste the miso and the fish was cooked perfectly. Love this dish
                Pork Loin with Risotto - SO had this once and loved it although I never tried it
                Honey & Spice Glazed Pekin Duck Breast - My absolute favorite dish on the menu.

                Hope this helps! Happy eating.

                1. re: caphil07

                  That really helps, especially since I was really intrigued by the Honey & Spice Glazed Pekin Duck Breast. Now I may be sold.

                  1. re: tlubow

                    I had THE BEST duck at Dino the other night- extra fatty (in a good way) with crispy orange flavored skin-on the bone-served w/ braised cabbagae in pancetta and roasted potatoes. The duck at Proof is good, too- but you need to like it rare.
                    I prefer the Dino version, although I do love Proof, too!

                  2. re: caphil07

                    I have to disagree about the sweetbread appetizer at Proof. I found that to be the best appetizer we ordered that night - delicious in my opinion. The buffalo sauce was spicy, but not overpowering - I thought it blended quite well with the blue cheese and celery served with it.

                    Another thing proof does really well are the side dishes. The cauliflower with lemon tahini sauce is excellent.

                2. re: dacfood

                  This is all at Central I take it?

                  You've practically eaten half the menu---kudos! (And I'm jealous!)

                  1. re: dacfood

                    Adding to the list: for an entree, the beef cheeks are excellent too. Very tender and flavorful and I liked the preparation - served over linguine.