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Central or Brasserie Beck or Proof?

hamster Jan 16, 2010 08:55 AM

I have a big birthday dinner coming up in a few weeks, and I'm trying to decide where to splurge. These are all places I've wondered about for a while. Any thoughts on this decision or particular menu rec's?

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    reiflame RE: hamster Jan 16, 2010 10:33 AM

    I haven't been to Proof, but I'd go with Central over Beck as my last meal at Beck the sauce on my rabbit was incredibly salty. Like, as soon as I took a bite I had to drink water salty.

    I've been to Central a half a dozen times and the food has never been less than stellar. Really though, either is great. I'd just give Central a minute edge over Beck.

    1 Reply
    1. re: reiflame
      chicken kabob RE: reiflame Jan 16, 2010 11:47 AM

      I think all 3 are very good. You cannot go wrong!

    2. DanielK RE: hamster Jan 16, 2010 12:52 PM

      Note that the dining areas of Central and Beck are much much louder than Proof. So if that matters to you, then Proof is the choice.

      Otherwise, they all are great choices. Central for modern cuisine from Michel Richard on a budget, Beck for Belgian classics with a spectacular beer list, and Proof for great modern American cuisine and a fabulous wine list.

      1. e
        Elyssa RE: hamster Jan 16, 2010 02:45 PM

        You pretty much can't go wrong with any of these places, I guess it just depends on what type of celebration you want to have. Personally I would go to Central....but you will have a great meal regardless of where you go.

        1. m
          mjhals RE: hamster Jan 16, 2010 02:52 PM

          Like everyone else said, I don't think you can go wrong between Beck and Central (haven't been to Proof), and Central has one of the single best dishes I've ever had (faux gras). When making your decision I would consider your guest count. If it's just you and your significant other, I'd pick Central as it's a bit smaller and jewelbox-like (although no too much so). If a larger party, Beck is better able to accommodate that and the space is just bigger and I wouldn't feel as uncomfortable getting a bit raucous with a bigger group at Beck.

          1. h
            hamster RE: hamster Jan 16, 2010 06:11 PM

            Thanks everyone for your input!

            1. b
              Bigcitywine RE: hamster Jan 19, 2010 07:52 AM

              Proof is the best food and experience in that group. It's not as loud as the other two but it's not slow by any means. Becks over priced and shouldnt be in the same league as Proof and Central.

              1. r
                Raids RE: hamster Jan 19, 2010 09:42 AM

                Proof is currently my favorite restaurant in DC, and it would be perfect for a group, large or small. The food can easily be shared amongst the table or ordered separately, or both, since the menu is equally divided up into large and small plates. The staff is also very pleasant and accommodating, and full of excellent wine suggestions. You can get wine by the glass in tasting portions, so it's easy to try 4-6 wines over the evening, which is nice.

                I haven't been to Central, but I was not impressed with Brasserie Beck (service was somewhat absent, not particularly helpful, and a little, well, snobby), and it would, IMO, be a less fun, more traditional restaurant experience.

                1. j
                  jaydreb RE: hamster Jan 19, 2010 11:42 AM

                  I've never been to Beck.

                  Central is very good, but I found Proof to be outstanding. My favorite of the 2.

                  1. h
                    hamster RE: hamster Feb 4, 2010 04:45 AM

                    So we ended up choosing Central and thoroughly enjoyed our meal last night.
                    Crusty bread - yum.
                    French onion soup - yum. This won over my boyfriend, who had never tried this dish before anywhere.
                    Sea bass served with mushrooms and arugula - yum. Though some citrus or a sauce would have been nice. The serving was HUGE - I took half of it home with me.
                    Lemon burger - double yum.
                    Chocolate bar dessert - yum.

                    It was indeed quite loud, but we found it a little less obnoxiously so than at Rasika, perhaps because we got a seat in the center of the restaurant rather than along the sides crowded with other diners.

                    I was particularly happy because I think the food was simple enough and there were enough approachable dishes to not freak out my slightly-less-adventurous boyfriend. (This is ultimately why I decided against Proof.) I see why Central is recommended so often.

                    Next time, I hope to try the lamb shank, fried chicken, burger, or mac and cheese.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: hamster
                      reiflame RE: hamster Feb 4, 2010 05:13 AM

                      Glad you liked it! My own complaint with Central is that the prices of the entrees and the prices of the appetizers run into each other. Call me old fashioned, but I think there's something wrong with paying more for an appetizer than an entree.

                      Their portions are gigantic - I once ordered the skate and they brought me 2 full wings.

                      1. re: hamster
                        Steve RE: hamster Feb 4, 2010 05:49 AM

                        The combination appetizer of faux gras and rillettes are really and truly a MUST. It is rich, so this is defintely for at least two people. I come from a family with a lot of 'food fears,' but they were still won over. This is almost certainly a good dish if your BF wants to dip his toe in the water.

                        1. re: Steve
                          hamster RE: Steve Feb 4, 2010 09:57 AM

                          Yeah, he turned up his nose at my description of that dish. Maybe next time I'll be able to convince him...

                        2. re: hamster
                          a1234 RE: hamster Feb 5, 2010 08:36 AM

                          Apparently a good choice. Beck's is bad.

                          1. re: a1234
                            sweth RE: a1234 Feb 5, 2010 01:51 PM

                            a1234 has made a separate post about his beefs w/ Beck, but for those who don't want to wade through it: he went there once (despite apparently not thinking that relatively uncommon imported Belgian beers could ever be worth the amount that they tend to sell for), felt he was unfairly directed to the bar because he was a singleton, felt the bartender was rude and may have overcharged him for what he viewed as an already-overpriced product, and sneers at the clientele.

                            Others have had different experiences there. I've been there I think 4 times since they opened, and have been content with it every time: it's not cheap, but it's perfectly in line with similar establishments both in terms of price point for the location and price point for the product; the moules and frites are both fine; the staff has always been friendly to me, even once when I was there with friends who brought a small child (which most waitstaff find at least as trying as seating a singleton); and they have a very good selection of beer if you do in fact like Belgian beer.

                            1. re: sweth
                              Steve RE: sweth Feb 5, 2010 03:20 PM

                              I'd just like to add that you can eat quite cheaply at Brasserie Beck. A side of potato gratin with pork belly is $12 and is filling enough for an entire meal. If someone is looking to 'cheap out' in downtown DC, this is a great choice without compromising quality.

                              1. re: sweth
                                DanielK RE: sweth Feb 5, 2010 05:24 PM

                                And not only is it a great beer list, but half price drafts from 5p-7p? Awesome.

                                1. re: DanielK
                                  a1234 RE: DanielK Feb 9, 2010 07:18 AM

                                  This is what I mean - they list a beer for $10, you pay $5 at happy hour and think it's a bargain.
                                  As far as a dinner of pork belly (yuk) and potato au gratin go, $12 sounds about right. It certainly would be filling, as in "I had enough".
                                  Finally, I KNOW I was directed to the bar because I was a singleton, since it was at dinner opening, the seats were completely empty and most tellingly, they were about to seat me until I told them I was alone.

                                  1. re: a1234
                                    reiflame RE: a1234 Feb 9, 2010 08:47 AM

                                    Because for the quality of the beer $5 IS a bargain? It's not Miller Lite, you know.

                                    Who doesn't like pork belly? That's like the most delicious part of the pig.

                              2. re: a1234
                                jkosnett RE: a1234 Feb 6, 2010 07:17 AM

                                I've been a singleton at the bar in Beck's and had great service and decent conversation. It;s one of my favorite places in DC regardless of whether you have a small or large group and if you just want a beer and a snack or the full menu.

                                1. re: jkosnett
                                  woodleyparkhound RE: jkosnett Feb 6, 2010 12:04 PM

                                  I too have had great service and pleasant conversation at the bar at Beck's when I was there alone. On that occasion, I got their delicious sausage and lentils, which made an inexpensive (for that area) and delicious dinner.

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