DC at night is a strange creature. It becomes particularly so with the blustery weather we’ve been having lately. As I walked to the Metro from the restaurant, I noted that compared to the day, the city is remarkably empty and lends itself to a bit of romantic musing.
Falling quite in line with such weather, the bar at Central is a good place to continue or begin such musings. Unlike the Ikea-esque dining room, it lends itself to a lone person sitting at the bar to people-watch undetected via the angled, mounted mirror above.
The hearty food I consumed during the meal was certainly sufficient padding to protect against the recent winds or perhaps a French Mistral (though a cassoulet would abet that cause even further).
The meal started with a variety of charcuterie as well as some grougeres. Prosciutto, soppresetta, another type of sausage, foie gras, cornichons, tomatoes, and pearl onions. When presented with such beautiful animal products, I tend not to think too hard about it because the only thing going through my mind is “meat, good meat.” Although looking back, I might have enjoyed some cracked pepper on the prosciutto, since that is the way my Swiss uncle tends to serve it. But other than that I can’t comment except to say that it was rich and delicious. The meat is sourced from various places in Europe, since Central has not been open long enough to properly age their own.
The grougeres, fresh and warm, were less cheesy than I had initially expected. They were delicious nonetheless, light, delicate and buttery they melded nicely with the gentleness of the cheese.
For entree was the 72-hour short ribs with what was identified by others as polenta (but I believe they were mashed potatoes), creamed spinach and mac and cheese. The ribs though tender, felt a bit too slippery to me. I’m not sure if that is a result of the sous vide. The flavors (to this Asian palate) seemed a bit faded, with the predominant flavor being bland fat. The polenta/potatoes were good, but nothing magical. The creamed spinach and mac and cheese, on the other hand, were excellent. The spinach was creamed with gruyere, or rather… the gruyere was filled with spinach. The mac and cheese had a nice crumby crust on top with a perfect balance of cheesy saltyness.
The dessert was the chocolate kit kat bar. A dense layer of feuilletine flavored with hazelnut and chocolate, topped with a layer of chocolate mousse served alongside vanilla ice cream. The mousse was too airy to match the crispy and tasty feuilletine. Perhaps if it had a fudgier and denser texture it could have stood up to the rest of the dessert. I also found the chocolate to be overwhelming and needed to match it with the ice cream (which I suppose is the intent). But the feuilletine layer makes this dessert worth ordering, especially for Nutella lovers.
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience, and if you ever find yourself wandering the Penn Quarter late at night you can dream a little and eat some food that will keep you warm.
Other Central images
1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, Dc 20004