Last I gave Central Bistro & Bar some love, Lance Barto was heading up the kitchen; now Gerard Strong’s at the helm, & the CIA-trained Hudson Valley native is looking every bit as sharp as his predecessor. I had ample opportunity to arrive at that conclusion: the media preview of the lunch menu, which is now being served Wed.-Fri., included a sample of every. single. dish thereon (with the exception of the ice-cream sampler). Two days hence, I think I’m about halfway done digesting the 16-course meal.
Among them, there were only a couple items I could’ve taken or left—most made my eyes shiny & wide. Here’s a look-see, with my very very favorites in bold:
Dungeness crab salad with pomelo, avocado & housemade herbed yogurt
Caesar salad with a sprinkling of prosciutto bits; save some croutons for dipping into
the preserved tomato soup, the depth of whose concentration goes way beyond the bottom of the bowl
Beautifully nuanced cream of asparagus soup with green garlic & chives
Duck-fat chicken-salad sandwich on sourdough with a touch of apple & petal-delicate seasoned potato chips (they’re cut on the meat slicer)
More of those incredible chips alongside the roasted pork sandwich with charred onion, pickled red jalapeños & garlic aioli—the shaved meat is so impressively tender & gently seasoned—& the boxcar burger, easily as good as any of its kind (paired with fries, aioli & ketchup)
Central tartine with mushroom ragu, white cheddar, sunnyside egg—a beauty, eh?
The ubiquitous chicken & waffle with sausage gravy
Crab mac & cheese, unusually sprightly with mascarpone & pepper relish
Steak frites: grilled bavette steak marinated in soy, sherry vinegar & green garlic, topped with oyster mushrooms & accompanied by fries daubed with blue cheese
Seasonal vegetarian selection, currently hand-cut pappardelle with maitake mushrooms, asparagus, kale, green garlic & parsley in a white wine-butter sauce
The signature Nutella waffle with banana butterscotch & pretzel ice cream
And the surprisingly light & springy sweet-potato cheesecake with spiced-crumb topping, pecans & whipped cream.
The bar’s doing some nifty things too, offering half-pours of all wines by the glass & lower-alcohol cocktails so you can keep your wits about you midday—including the gin-based, agave-sweetened Blueberry Lemon Light:
Do it to it, kids.