Centro opened in the mid 1980's with great fanfare. I never went. Free parking is impossible in their neighbourhood. Today I saw a coupon, $59 for $140, Monday to Friday, $120 on the weekend.. So I thought, what the heck, maybe I'll spring for parking. Then I looked at the menu, extracts below.
Summer Vegetable Salad
beet stained poached egg, carrot puree
fried taro and beet chips
Quinoa, pearl barley, beet, olive
cherry tomato with brown butter-yogurt
Confit artichoke, crushed potato, aspiration
lemongrass ginder beurre blanc
Like, trout is $5.00 a lb whole. The whole plate has less than $2.50 worth of ingredients. I thought , what do they do to the fish to have it cost so much?
Then I saw below that vegetables are extra- $8 a side.
Potato Gratin | 8
Broccolini | 8
Fingerling potatoes | 8
Sauteed swiss chard| 8
They are not even appelation controlled organic, albeit they are comfort food.. I gasped- literally- in wonder and surprise that they were extra and at the price. And this was before I even thought of tax and tip. (According to the group menu, I am expected to tip 18% pre-tax.)
I did see in their group menu #1 that the lettuce presentation has been hand picked.
What gives? Is it simply that I have had a Rip van Winkle experience and this is how it is now- a -days?
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VVM, I was excited to eat there when I first went and I was very underwhelmed. it's overpriced food that seems to survive on the low standards and high incomes of the neighbourhood. How else do you explain North44? I really like MM's food at Bymark and One, but I don't get North44. It's the least adventurous of the three, yet the prices are astronomical. Whoopee, the service is good...does that justify $45 entrees? $14 for tropical fruit and berries?
As far as bang for your buck, Centro does not deliver. The food is good but not great, service though is excellent. The mains come as a complete dish, the vegetable sides are something extra to share with the table. I can't say I agree that their pricing is competitive unless you compare it with other overpriced options like Harbour 60. If there is a coupon so that you can try it at a lesser price, then maybe it's worth checking out. Summer is probably a slow time for them.
It seems to me that restaurants resort to half-price coupons when they can't find enough diners who'll sit still for their regular prices. Coupons are a gentile, face-saving alternative to baldly admitting that they've overpriced their product. I don't know anyone who goes to Centro who isn't on an expense account. The food is good there, no doubt, but of the dishes mentioned by VVM, there are similar dishes at half the price at nearby restos within a 10-15-minute drive. (With easier parking, too.) Mind, the service and surroundings may not be quite as polished as it is at Centro, but you have to decide for yourself whether that's worth paying Centro's regular price for. At half price, however, it seems like an acceptable deal for a special occasion, though I have a hunch that whatever savings you make on the food will be pretty well wiped out by the pricing of the wine list.
With a composed plate either the vegetable sides are needed or they are not, and at $39 for trout they should not be needed. It is not that the plate is extended with something special - potatoes in a cheese sauce, swiss chard , plain potatoes, etc!
Pricing separately vegetable sides is good for a steak house where you set out to gorge on a large piece of meat, a burger joint or a cafeteria, but at a place which carries on - and prices itself out - as the best place in town? The separate vegetable sides are insulting.
I do not recall this practice in any restaurant I have been to in France, and the French are pretty good at food.
re: Vinnie Vidimangi
i have no issue with the practice, as long as the offerings are unique and well executed. if it's seasonal vegetables and mashed potatoes then keep it for over-priced steak houses. Bymark (first place that came to mind) is another target for criticism about price, but their sides are usually interesting and at the end of the day, completely optional.
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