Drinked and Dined: Central Kitchen, A New Favorite
My husband and I will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of our first date soon, so of course one of my favorite things to do these days is taunt him about the early days of our relationship. We met as all good high school sweethearts do: on the after school bus. He was a jock, more in personality than in practice because is track really counted as a sport? I was a dramatic pain in the ass- always landing the role of prostitute in the school play, loosing class President campaigns to the biggest pot dealer in the school (not fair!), and starting a student court because I’d deemed the Assistant Principal totally incompetent (ah, how things change yet also stay the same…). He probably thought I was crazy (long story short, a mishap at the local mall’s “day spa" had turned my hair bright red with dark purple stripes) and I thought he was black (he’s Indian), and not deterred by the fact he didn’t seem to know I exist I did what any woman scorned does: I made the moves on one of his friends until he noticed me. Ten years later and I’ve still got his attention.
So what does any of this have to do with food? Well, it seems to parallel my new found relationship with Central Kitchen in Central Square, Cambridge. I’ve lived in Boston going on five years (holy shit) and spent a considerable amount of time in Cambridge without ever once stepping foot in this cozy, rustic, Mediterranean style bistro and bar right on Mass Ave. Truth be told, I don’t really spend a lot of time in Central Square except to hit up Toscanini’s or the Middle East- most of the time I blew through on my way to somewhere else. On the way back I’d stumble in to Falafel Palace and call it a night. While Tosci’s Gus Rancatore has recently (and rightly) lamented that Central Square is going the way of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Central Kitchen has been doing the “better restaurant" thing for awhile (1998 to be exact). It’s a refuge from the craziness (it grows on you) of Central Square, and once seated at their blue tiled bar or copper covered tables you forget about the homeless couple who are fighting and making out in the Bank of America ATM vestibule across the street, or the jacked up MIT kid freaking out that the 7Eleven next door ran out of sausages.
The Husband and I ended up at Central Kitchen totally by chance late on a recent Thursday night. I’d heard little tidbits about the place here and there, and at the risk of sounding like a total egomaniac thought “If I haven’t been there if can’t be that good." Well, call me stupid- I was sooo wrong. Our bartender, Lux from Sao Paulo, is now one of my favorite people and the best bartender I’ve had in Boston. When asked whether Central Ward is the drink to get he replied, “It shows you that you can have bourbon and have it be refreshing." SOLD. Husband got their Pretty Things offering, the always wonderful Jack D’Or.
As for the food- wow. It’s everything I love in one place. Crusty loaves of french bread are stored in the bar’s built ins and served sliced on slate tiles with an awesome white bean, garlic, and olive oil dip. Everything is seasonal and as local as possible, because its better that way not because its trendy. The menu changes often, including their awesome (and best bar snack ever) deviled eggs. That night mine consisted of local mushrooms and pickled egg whites (!!). Maine shrimp and local oysters were on offer, but I couldn’t pass up their mussels. Bathed in a white wine and sauteed onion broth, they were topped with frites and some kind of garlic mayo magic sauce, and at $13 that dish might be the best friggin deal in Boston (it can feed two if your not too hungry).
Say hello when you check it out- after being back twice since I’ll likely be the one at the corner of the bar, sipping on a Central Ward and eating an un-ladylike amount of deviled eggs.
Central Kitchen is located at 567 Mass Avenue in Cambridge (MA). While Kait and I are more in to sharing our own experiences than “reviewing" a place, I will say its delightful and you need to go. Bring a date, bring yourself, just get there. And tell me what you had (@TheEsthete or via the “Ask" section).