You may have noticed lately that I’ve spent a lot less time talking about restaurants on the blog. That’s partly on purpose. After we bought the house, the Boy and I decided that while we loved going out to eat, one good way to cut back on excess spending costs was to eat in more. Which led us to trying more meal delivery kits (see: Plated and Blue Apron), eating a lot of quick and easy foods (see: soup made from stock), and if we were going out to see a play, instead of doing a pre-theater meal at a restaurant, we usually just got salads from Chop’t, which brings down the cost of the night out considerably while also being an order of magnitude faster than a restaurant meal with waiters.
But on a recent Friday, a date to which we had switched our Hamlet tickets, the Boy was working from home, and we could drive in to town without worry, begin our meal at a time that allowed for leisurely eating, and still make it over to the theater with time to spare. So the Boy poked around, and made reservations at Central Michel Richard – a restaurant he had never been to, and one I had not visited in years.
The last time I went was about five years ago for lunch with my sister and mom. We had a super tasty lunch (I seem to remember eating steak tartare, something that would not be an option this time around), and then went to see a movie at the E Street Cinema a block away. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, so I wasn’t too worried about how things would be this time around, and I was right to have high expectations and expecting them to be met.
Somehow, we had managed to make our reservations for dinner and theater during restaurant week. This meant we weren’t able to take advantage of the pre/post-theater prix-fixe dining menu (available 5-6:30pm or 9pm to close), but the restaurant week menu had what felt like more selection, and was actually $3 cheaper per person ($35 vs $38) if you’re watching your pennies. Not that the difference is enough to dissuade most diners. It also allowed us to not feel bad about our 6pm arrival time, and that we weren’t cutting it too close to the end of the prix-fixe time limit.
In any case we ended up ordering the same appetizer – a butternut squash soup that was seriously yummy. The Boy’s had a fried egg in it, and mine would have too but for two reasons 1) I’m pretty sure pregnant ladies aren’t supposed to have runny eggs and 2) I don’t like fried eggs anyways. But the soup! The soup was so good – creamy and delicious without being overwhelmingly squashy. It had little bits of bacon on the bottom that added just a little crunch to the soup without being too bacon-focused like many bacon dishes can be.
Our main courses were next, and were even better than expected. The Boy ordered Trout Almondine (basically, trout cooked with almonds), and he said it was very good, and gobbled it all up. I had the fried chicken breast that was served with a small arugula salad on top of mashed potatoes. It was a LOT of food. I was able to finish about 3/4 of the chicken and half the mashed potatoes (I was very good and ate all my greens), and was disappointed in not being able to take the leftovers home with me because it was so good! But bringing a doggy bag to the theater would probably not be a good choice, and we definitely didn’t have time to drop a box of food off in the car.
To top everything off was dessert – there were four choices, and they all looked really good, but we decided on the pistachio creme brulee, and chocolate lava cake. The creme brulee had a very mild pistachio flavor, which was terrific, and was tinged green (as one would expect) when you cracked into it. The lava cake was good, and even tastier with the ice cream that was included on the side. I only wish it had been slighly gooier in the middle and flowed out when cut into like lava. Oh well – it was still delicious, and I’m not going to complain about that.
Restaurant week is supposed to give you an idea of what a restaurant can do, what they are capable of, and a taste of things to come should you return. Central did an amazing job of giving you generous (but not enormous) portions of delicious food. The entrees didn’t feel to me like throw-aways that were created just to have something cheaper on the menu. It felt special and thoughtful. And it makes me want to return to Central for another meal again soon.