Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Central Kitchen

Central Kitchen in The Mission opened a year ago but has been a local cause célèbre of late, thanks to the power of a recent San Francisco Chronicle review. The review's glowing take on the food was drowned out by the reviewer's ballistic rant on the blaring loud music.

As chance would have it I happen to be at Central Kitchen the night before the SF Chron review came out. The music was indeed loud but never distracting and unsurprising for the vibe of the place. The resto attracts a young, hipster, Mission grazing crowd drawn to this kind of scene. If there was any issue with the music, it would be the poor acoustics of the building (an old sausage factory). To be honest, crowd noise bothers me a lot more, alas, that seems to escape restaurant critics. Suffice it to say our group of four didn't have a problem conversing till midnight without resorting to shouting, unlike at places like A16 or Nopa where crowd noise is deafening.

As soon as I saw Wind Gap's Trousseau Gris on the list by the glass I didn't hesitate. Sharp and crisp, almost like a fino, it's a mouthwatering, bracing start.

Someone in the group pointed to a dish that must be ordered. Indeed, I would come back to Central Kitchen just to have another plate of the snap peas, chickpeas and chorizo. Rustic yet also a refined balance of flavors and textures.

I guess we where behaving goodly because the chef sent out a complimentary dish of an ethereal potato stew that showed the more ambitious refined tendencies of the kitchen.

I brought along a bottle of 2009 Cos Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico which was warmly received by the staff. Made in Sicily by the great Giusto Occhipinti, the rich and elegant character of this Nero d'Avola and Frappato blend was a versatile match with the dishes. I got raves from everyone for bringing the bottle.

At the other end of the building the music and the energy was thumping even more at Trick Dog, an attached bar which like the restaurant has an industrial, early 20th century look to it. The cocktails are killer. I had a drink after leaving Central Kitchen, I think it was Pennies from Heaven, which was very good.

The sconces at Trick Dog are part of the old factory look. Nice touch.

Serving as decor above the bar, cast-iron Trick Dog mechanical banks, a vintage Americana that's apparently the bar's inspiration. You insert a coin in the dog's mouth, press a button and the dog leaps through the hoop held by the clown and deposits the coin into the barrel. Cool.

Central Kitchen (Trick Dog is next door)
3000 20th Street
San Francisco, CA

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