Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Central Kitchen--Casual and homey, with a dash of class

Casual and homey, with a dash of class. That’s what we Palateers thought of Central Kitchen in Central Square, Cambridge. Central Kitchen always seemed alluring, especially when we would gaze in from the cold street and see smiling people merrily drinking glasses of wine and laughing about jokes in which we wished we could be included :(

But then one night, we went to Central Kitchen, and we were those smiling people making the jokes :)

How the tables have turned. We love wine bars because we once had dreams of opening one. There is something magical about wine, overpriced food and bar stools. It’s like a recipe for restaurant success. Boston doesn’t have as many wine bars as other metropolitan areas, ie. our cousins down to the south. But the few wine bars Boston has seem to be of quality; no exception for Central Kitchen. The blending of unique meal options, quality wines, and a relaxing atmosphere is a Palateer likeability elixir.

On the atmosphere, we especially noticed and felt appropriate the wine bottle light fixtures above our table and the large wooden mantle above the bar. The menu was diverse and eclectic, and we were even more impressed to learn that it changes with the seasons or the whims and muses of the chef.

Of course, we started off our meal with wine. Our pleasant Cabernet Sauvignon and loveable sangria were served with crusty bread and a mysterious side spread. We made bets about whether it was butter or hummus. One Palateer has lasting bad memories of eating a whole slice of butter before realizing it wasn’t cheese. It turned out to be hummus, or a light chickpea spread. Either way, it was all consumed.

Our appetizer was a rabbit sausage ($7). It tasted like sausage, which means delicious. The sausage came with a Greek yogurt style sauce, which helped balance the spicy green peppers and sweet roasted red peppers.

Whats up doc?
Our second appetizer was a warm salad with duck confit ($12). The salad was a treasure hunt, or better put, an egg hunt. As one Palateer asked, “What type of cheese is this?” And then remarked, “It’s not cheese, it’s an egg!” Besides the poached egg, we also discovered on our hunt a walnut dressing, golden raisins and little chunks of bacon interwoven within the duck confit and lettuce.

Thats not cheese!
The main course was a saucy Ragout filled with large tomato halves, chunks of zucchini, Parmesan slivers and surprisingly flavor filled soaked celery ($21). In the middle sat a big ol’ hunk of polenta which helped to absorb all the linger juices.

A Plunk of Polenta
Although a bit on the expensive side, Central Kitchen lived up to the allure and is worth more than one visit from the cold.

Central Kitchen
567 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA‎
(617) 491-5599‎

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