Ever tried to teach an old dog new tricks? As evidenced by our attempts to teach a three-year-old French Bulldog how to do anything besides sit (he just stares at us like we asked him to speak German), this is one of those things your mom says that’s annoyingly true. The Mission restaurant Central Kitchen changed up their menu, apparently hoping to move away from their reputation as an upscale neighborhood American fine dining spot, and learn some share plates and affordability tricks. And while they’ve gotten the sharing thing down (just like Thor and his ability to sit), Central Kitchen can’t shake its pricey and fancy training.
Luckily, despite the changeups, Central Kitchen has kept a few of the things that we always liked about it: the location is prime, and the space is modern, but not in a cold minimalist way - there’s a big skylight, vines, and wood accents that make you feel like you’re eating outside. The menu is diverse and full of some of our favorite stuff to eat: burrata, avocado, pasta, pork. But we just wish there was more of it on the plate.
Come to Central Kitchen prepared to drop a good amount of money on many small plates. The vegetables and things that come under the “larder” section of the menu are definitely the best of the bunch - they’re really well executed and full of flavor. But the pastas aren't as good as we'd hoped, and the bigger plates were also a bit of a letdown. One trick Central Kitchen has mastered though is the f*cking fantastic fry bread. We’re very pleased they learned that one.
Ultimately, while Central Kitchen 1.0 was one of our favorite places to hang out, version 2.0 just doesn't feel the same. We’ll be back for drinks and a snack, but won’t be hitting Central on the regular for a full dinner unless the parents are paying or we start playing - and winning - online slots. Learning new things is hard.
The real pro move would be to show up at Central Kitchen, drink five to seven cocktails, order four rounds of this fry bread with burrata and call it night. The bread is like a savory donut and the burrata is phenomenal. Best thing on the menu, hands down.
Very peppery and very delicious. It also comes with some beef tendon chicharrones things which are addictive and 1000% terrible for you.
Sort of earthy and pretty good. Very soft roasted eggplant and crispy rice for some texture diversity. Not a must order but a nice vegetable dish if you’re looking to stay away from animals.
A Mediterranean take on a vegetable salad, there are peppers and za'atar and yogurt and lots of sesame seeds in this small plate. We just wish there were more of it. This is a theme at Central Kitchen.
Although the pork is spicy and good, the pasta is lackluster and the portion is quite small. This is fine, but not as hearty as we hoped.
With zucchini and fried almonds, this is a solid piece of fish. Not huge but a good few bites for everyone if you’re sharing. If you got this as an entree though, you’d be frantically trying to get the waiter’s attention to order an additional fry bread to fill you up.
While this sounds like something you could eat out of a freezer bag, it’s actually quite good. The berries are cold and come with seed crumble and whipped cream. Very refreshing and light.