Saturday, April 14, 2007

CENTRAL by Michel Richard -a busy and bustling bistro

Well after yesterday's huge Chinese lunch I thought I wouldn't at another bite, but I did. I joined a dear friend I haven't seen in a while and we opted for the new hopping bistro CENTRAL by Michel Richard (of Citronelle fame) at 1001 Pennsylvania Ave, NW. My first thought upon entering was NOISE. The levels are high, and we actually sometimes had trouble hearing each other across the intimate table for two. It is a pretty destination with blond tables and tall and long windows looking out to 11th Street as well as a huge tilted mirror so those facing it can see the whole bar (which is heaving as well).

We perused the menu and due to the wet and cold and dreary evening decided on a LONGVIEW 2005 Yakka (named for the local grass) SHIRAZ "Single Vineyard" from the Adelaide Hills in Australia that had a huge fruity and spicy nose and was similar on the palate with lots of plummy overtones..YUM YUM!

We split appetizers and entrees and started with the DUCK RILETTES and FAUX GRAS which is a mini-tureen of creamy rich chicken liver pate that could easily pass for duck and this simply decadent. It comes with two slices or crispy bread, just perfect for this--although we did wonder why no regular bread arrived at the table by this time. There was a small almost negligible spoonful of superb rilettes; I wished for more, and a small bowl of intensely pickled onions and tasty gherkins. The CRABCAKE with LEEK TARTAR SAUCE is a crunchy on the outside cake full of chunks of meat and superbly prepared on a monstrous bed of leek tartar sauce which is rich and tasty, served with flash fried carrot frizzles on top.

While our waiter steered us to his favorite seafood appetizer, his favorite seafood entree was less enjoyable. The TIGER PRAWNS with SNOW PEAS came five huge shrimp with heads on over a bed of deliciously cooked snow peas, and while well seasoned and lemony, seemed a bit of an unexciting version of a traditional Asian dish. teh 72HOUR SHORT RIBS with CENTRAL STEAK SAUCE are a hit and come sliced off the bone and as tender and tasty as could be. Sadly the accompanying mashed potatoes while creamy and delicious had wimpy shoestring fries piled on top that were lukewarm. A small salad of greens was on the side and was most welcome, but the vinaigrette really was too vinegary!

Needless to say we were too full to contemplate dessert. I would like to return to CENTRAL to try many more of the dishes, but it won't be on a busy Saturday night for sure!