Their dinner menu is short and sweet and easy to read. Their wine list is not overwhelming at all. The dining area is hip but not noisy. Service is very friendly. This restaurant is easily one of our favorites!
When I took Mijo out for his birthday dinner, I asked him to choose from three restaurants. Central Kitchen was one of them and I included it in my list with the hope that he would pick it. We all know that he chose another restaurant for his birthday dinner. This made me decide to take matters into my own hands and made the reservation at Central Kitchen at a later time. Mijo and I finally went on Thursday and it was a beautiful spring evening.
Since neither Mijo nor I have been there and the address says 3000 20th St, we marched directly through the door that is marked 3000 20th St thinking that we were in the right place. We were in the right restaurant but it felt like we went to the wrong address because the place looked more like a big dining room with chef looking folks rather than a restaurant. Maybe they were hosting a private dinner party that night? Anyway, we were immediately directed next door. The main dining room is industrial, rustic with lots of natural light (there was still light when we got there) and high ceilings.
First, they served the freebies. However, these are not your ordinary freebies because the bread was warm to the touch and the butter was creamy. It was so creamy that Mijo and I looked at each other right after we tasted it. We both thought of Australia - where we had the best tasting butter during our trip there a couple of years ago. Anyway, we were told by our server that the butter is cultured in the restaurant's kitchen.
This is a radish salad. I think the other greens may have been cucumbers or figs? I'm not so sure. The tastes are simple yet unforgettable. The combination of the crunchy greens, the butter and fleur de lys are wonderful. It somehow reminded me of the jicama snacks my dad used to make when we were little. We also decided to get two glasses of North Coast red wine blend by Skylark.
Next is the liver mousse with pickled mustard seed and verjus. We saw the table next to us ordered this so we sort of had an idea what this item on the menu looks like. The mousse came in this cute spice jar with clamp lids. The mousse tasted like it had hints of orange which balanced the flavor. It also has this smooth consistently very much like a creamy peanut butter. We absolutely loved this! We asked for extra toasts.
Next is this halibut ceviche with rhubarb. It was super tasty. I tasted hints of either kaffir lime, ginger or lemongrass. It came served on a long shell plates. We were told that shells are washed for reuse.
Now for the main entree. I ordered this halibut with artichoke, beans, olive crumb & mussel soffritto. It wasn't a lot but it was good. The fish was heavy but moist and the other ingredients added more flavors into the fish. They also used this crunchy crumb as garnish. I am not sure if it is the olive crumb but it added extra texture and semi bitter flavor into the dish.
Mijo ordered this pressed duck confit with mushroom, fava, ramp & soubise. It was so flavorful without the taste of the duck fats overwhelming the entire dish. I know this because half way through the dinner, Mijo and I discretely switched plates.
For dessert, Mijo and I shared this caramelized honey custard with lavender shortbread & strawberry. It was also served in a cute spice jar with clamp lid. This custard was not sweet at all which allowed us to taste the rest of the flavors. Delicious!
Earlier that evening after our server asked our orders, Mijo went to the bathroom to wash his hands. I noticed this scene of busy chefs working quietly in the kitchen. It makes romanticizing my dining experience easier when I see chefs working in their kitchen. It is like watching a live music performance over just listening to the cd or radio.
Mijo and I really enjoyed this restaurant. We'll probably be back to try their brunch next time. Central Kitchen is on 20th St. between Florida and Bryant Sts. in the city's Mission district.