Central Kitchen – San Francisco

I have always been curious about Flour + Water for quite some time now, and A knows it too. So when she read about the Chef Thomas McNaughton’s Central Kitchen, she pinged me and we made plans to dine there. We got a reso for 6.30 pm on a nice sunny Saturday.

It was easy to miss since the restaurant doesn’t have super obvious signs. It sits comfortably around the corner right next to Salumeria.  There is A, looking all stylish and walking into the restaurant! ^_^

I loved everything about the restaurant; open space, open kitchen and just so bright and welcoming.

Menu is nice, with just enough choices per course:

Wine list is not extensively but definitely still lots of choices.

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We ordered:

Ham, greens and herbs, marinated bread, white cheddar $14

Our server definitely hyped up this dish as she points to this giant hunk of ham in the kitchen, so we just HAD to order it. I am glad we did because it was delicious. The ham was nothing like the store bought ham, because it still tasted fresh (if that is possible); tender, moist and salty. The freens were tossed in some kinds of vinaigrette; tangy and well balanced. Best part was the crispy marinated bread – crouton style.
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Poached artichokes, white beans and salted true cod $16

I am not a huge fan of foam because of the texture so I was not too cray about this dish. The crispy artichokes were delicious and so was the bits of salted cod. Maybe it just didn’t cut it for me because the white beans were just beans and the foam was a distraction for me.
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Charred onions, pork belly, honey vinegar and fromage blanc $15

By the time this dish was served, I already knew not the expect chunks of pork belly. The appetizers were very much light, fresh vegetables with hints of protein to bring it to another level. I honestly did not think this would be one of the favourite dishes of the day. Everything about this dish was delicious; the onions were so sweet and firm, yet smoky. The pork belly bits were crispy and salty and the cheese was just the highlight tying everything together.
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2 orders of Petrale sole, spring vegetables, lemon, almond $25 each

It was good but nothing too exciting. Nice crusted sole, cooked really well and flaked nicely. The greens were sauteed and seasoned very simply with salt and pepper. The dish had nice clean flavours.
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2 order Roasted hen, young potatoes, creme fraiche, dill and scallions $25 each

This has got to be the most juicy, tender piece of chicken I have ever had! It was fantastic, and for the first time I did not miss the dark meat! The texture was nothing like any roast chicken so I suspect it is sous vided and pan fried to get the skin browned. The creme fraiche was velvety, adding some sweetness and sauce to the dish as whole. Everything about the dish was just like elevated comfort food or should I say, this is simple at its best.
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Strawberry, smoked milk ice cream, balsamic vinegar, shortbread $10

The milk ice cream was freaking awesome! So smooth and creamy, almost like nitrogen made ice cream. The strawberry sorbet was tangy and sweet.  The short bread was strange because it was like a cross between chalky white chocolate and underbaked shortbread. I was very confused with that. The other elements were very refreshing.
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Chocolate financier, caramel meringue, chicory syrup $10

My favourite of the day! The chocolate financier was very much like a moist, airy flourless cake and pretty awesome on it own but what took it home was the ice cream. It was malty and chocolate-y, and I wish I had a tub of it. I find both ice creams in the desserts to be the stars! The meringue added a crunchy element to the dessert.
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Extras:
Fentimans Curiosity Cola
$5 – this was strange and very herb-y. Even with three coke lovers at the table, none of us liked it.
2 Abita Root Beers $8 – Very good root beer!
French Pressed Coffee $4 – Pretty good coffee.

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Total Damage: $250 (including tax & tip)

Personal Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Very Good)

The meal was excellent. Nothing fell short but there was nothing mindblowing either. For the price paid, it was definitely worth it but none of us felt like we would spend the money to dine the same menu. We might once the menu changes but there are just so many choices in the Bay Area to warrant another visit anytime soon. I also noticed that the Tasting menu is a fabulous deal for $79 and 5 courses, as the courses are pretty similar in size to the ala carte options.

Service was really slow. It took forever to order and quite some time in between courses. Even after getting the dessert menu, we couldn’t get our order in until a good ten minutes or more later.

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Central Kitchen

3000 20th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 826 7004

Central Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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