Proudly sporting a James Beard award and best new restaurant in Washington DC title, Central is a “tribute to great American cuisine” combing vibrant ingredients with ambitious culinary skills. Chef Gerard Bertholon lets us in on a recent visit to one of his favorite local eateries.
Michel Richard’s flagship restaurant, Central (pronounced /Sen – TRAL/), in downtown DC near Gallery Place is often described as an American brasserie with French flair. Reflecting rustic sophistication, the décor successfully blends natural sandalwood furniture with modern art and contemporary recessed lighting. The tables are without cloths however elegantly styled with full dining table settings and crisp linen napkins. A wall of wine bottles to the left side of the bar decoratively separates a casual gathering space from the more intimate dining area.
Tartar of Salmon. The salmon was exceptionally fresh with a firm texture. It was served on a bed of chunky savory guacamole with a light soy sauce dressing.
Soft Shell Crab Tempura. The soft shell crabs were stuffed with local Maryland jumbo lump crab meat and arranged on top of seasoned avocado, onions and tomatoes. This tempura was as good as you would find in an upscale Japanese restaurant; light and fluffy. The extra lump crab meat stuffing added depth and some sweetness to the dish. A plus for all crab lovers!
Crispy Scallops with English Pea and Radish. Excellent! The scallops were very crisp and crunchy on the outside and soft and slightly under cooked at the center for beautiful consistency. The peas and radish had the full fresh vegetable flavors of summer.
Chocolate Bar. Central’s signature dessert starts with a bottom made of crispy almond biscuit. Next is a layer of rich decadent dark chocolate ganache topped with crème anglaise sauce, vanilla icecream, and tuile made from almonds, pistachio, and hazelnuts. Believe it or not the taste resembles a Kit Kat bar!
Macaroons – (Top photo) These cookies brought back memories of enjoying freshly baked macaroons on the outside terrace of a pastry shop café on the main boulevard in Paris. Solid crust on the outside with a softer, sponge-like inside that holds together without crumbling when you bite into them. Central serves them in all the classical flavors – chocolate, vanilla, coffee, lemon, raspberry.
Between the fresh ingredients, attentive staff, and whimsical dessert inspirations, this French-American brasserie is a must-visit for every foodie passing through the nation’s capital.
1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004