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Brasserie Zentral

Went to the Zentral soft opening tonight. Truly exceeded expctations. The space is intimate, comfortable and classic. The food was superb and inspired. The open kitchen is full of joy and precision. The wines are hors classe and work seamlessly with the food. The staff polished, mature and kind. Just loved the experience.

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  1. Can't wait to try it!

    1. Glad to hear it. I had a disappointly average experience at Meritage recently, primarily due to what I perceived to be taking shortcuts with details. I'll post something in a Meritage thread.

      1. I walked by just about and hour ago and it looks like they're open (staff prepping in the kitchen, tables all set, etc.). yet their sign says they're not taking reservations earlier than April 21st (next Monday). Aare they open or? Oh, and how does one find one's self on an invitation list for soft openings?

        4 Replies
          1. re: Vito1

            Usually if you are a regular guest at an existing restaurant, member of their email club or rewards program you will get an invite to a soft opening.
            Vendors and reps from the various food and beverage companies.
            Family and friends of staff.
            Industry insiders like local restaurant owners, restaurant reviewers, media insiders, etc. Anyone that will help spread the word about the new place.

            1. re: run2eat

              Hmmm. I'm a e-mail recipient (don't think ther is a "club"). Received no e-mail.

          2. I went this evening and also had a wonderful experience. There were four of us and Zentral offers a number of small plates, so we were able to try a good variety. Don't know if they will all remain on the menu next week when they open, but I can highly recommend the outstanding white asparagus & hazelnut cream soup, whole halibut tail, gnocchi (light, billowy, among the best I've ever had), ravioli stuffed with nettle and served with spring peas, spaetzle with roasted rabbit and mushrooms, the whole roasted chicken stuffed with foie gras and an inspired foie gras sampler that I personally can't report on but my dining companions loved. We also had an artichoke gratin that was very good, altho richer than I would prefer for a side dish. The menu is fascinating; offerings that are fresh, intriguing, and unlike anything else here in the cities.

            There's a vast wine list, including wines from Croatia and Hungary. I'd report in detail on our delicious cocktails if only I could remember what was in them... our favorites were the Lawnmower and something-something Lena. Be warned--the Lena packs a real punch.

            Deserts all round were excellent, in particular a tangy black current sorbet and an incredibly delicious, clean and fresh tasting pear sorbet.

            The environment is lovely but relaxed, and service was excellent. The train runs right outside its windows, or if you prefer to drive, parking is easy, with lots in the building and across the street on the other side of 5th ($4 for the entire evening). I'm very excited about this new venture, and looking forward to many more dinners there. And lunches, because lucky me, it's just two blocks from where I work.

            1. Nice reference from Heavy Table this morning, Clepro.


              1 Reply
              1. We went last Saturday night and like the other reports, it was divine! My husband recently lost over 100 pounds, so this was his celebration meal and a great one at that!

                Chef Klein was in the kitchen and Desta was keeping tabs on everything as well. I recognized a few waitstaff from Meritage, so it's not like they've got a bunch of greenhorns. Our waitress was very nice, albeit a little too much on the chatty side. Sometimes you need to know when to stop talking and just let people eat. I think she was relatively new, so hopefully she'll get the hang of that soon. But water glasses were constantly kept full and dishes cleared at appropriate times.

                But I'm sure what you really want to know about is the food. :) We ordered a small portion of the quark spaetzle - spaetzle with rabbit, gruyere, chanterelles and peas. Like the most amazing mac and cheese I've ever had.

                For entrees I ordered the halibut strudel and hubby ordered the NY strip. My halibut strudel was amazing and served on a bed of fresh spring vegetables with morel mushrooms and the most amazing red ver jus sauce ever. The veggies were lightly cooked so they still had a nice crunch - absolutely delightful. The portions are quite large, so I took about half home and was still tasting different flavors (mustard in the ver jus!) the second day. Hubby's NY strip was served simply with fried onion shoestrings on top and a gherkin sauce that wasn't very gherkiny. :) In other words, it didn't taste at all like pickles. It was a delicious almost red wine sauce and the steak was cooked to perfection - his favorite - rare plus. We also got a side of the kasha varnishkas which I can describe only as farfelle pasta and some other sort of grain. It sounds weird, but it, too, was yummy! Hubby also got a couple glasses of wine and was quite happy with the wine list. Because we were celebrating, we did share the kaffehouse caramel, which was a sampling of an earl gray macaron, shortbread, wafflecone and coffee caramel pot de creme. Nice and light after all that food.

                My one criticism is that the food is a bit on the spendy side. My halibut was $35 and the NY strip was $40. I'm not sure how many people will be able to make that a repeat place. It may just be more of a special event restaurant for people. That said, the portions are generous. We both got a second meal out of our entrees, so I guess when you look at it that way, the spend isn't quite as bad. Regardless, we'll definitely go back. In just one trip, it's become one of our MSP faves.

                1. The pork cheek was very tasy, imo. I went to the soft opening too. Prices are a little high but the quality at my table was good. Some better than others (my wife's beef dish was just ok)...but overall a nice experience. Just not cheap.

                  1. Took 2 clients for lunch a few weeks ago. Paid $90 with tip. Incl three main dishes, soda and a latte.

                    We must not have ordered well.... None ordered pasta - Had salads and sandwiches. All three were underwhelmed. Will try again