April 20, 2014
What upscale restaurant occupies the northwest corner of Camelback Road and 32nd street? Here’s a hint: It’s housed in a shopping plaza next to a Mexican fast-food place and a popular hamburger hangout and screams ‘aphrodisiac” waiting to be savored and shared with a lover.
If you guessed Central Bistro, you are correct. Its unique features include large windows overlooking a decked patio and an inside design combination of red brick surrounded by lush wood accents. This bistro arouses the senses beginning with elegant tempered glass doors that lead into a sleek bar and lounge; the perfect place for you and your date to sip on Limoncello Sours before dinner. The candlelight atmosphere enhances your romantic tete-a-tete and after the second drink, anything is possible.
The lure of this eatery isn’t just its décor and intimacy, but also the cuisine—an Italian French fusion. Servers assist you with wine paring with a choice of more than 250 labels to choose from.
We chose to dine at Central Bistro on Easter Sunday, but not because of any religious connection. We were two couples who hadn’t seen each other for a while and we wanted to carry on a conversation without the backlash of a full house. Only six tables were occupied, so we didn’t have to scream across the table at one another. Our server, Shelby, was polite and friendly. While we looked over the menu, she came by the table offering an assortment of lemon, orange, or grapefruit slices to flavor our filtered water. Unfortunately we were unable to taste the added fruit and ended up ordering a bottle of Pellegrino sparkling water.
Each time we answered her questions, she replied with an affirmative “excellent” a word that seems to be popular with all food servers. We offered her an alternative response, so she used our word, ‘trendy’ for the rest of the evening.
We started with a ‘trendy’ appetizer, a tower of Avocado and citrus aioli. It offered sizable lumps of crab and wontons which seemed to be the perfect starter dish for spring, not overpowering, just light and crisp. Our friends ordered an arugula and wedge salad and couldn’t stop raving about their choices. For a main course we decided to split the veal chop served with whipped potatoes, grilled asparagus in a bed of burgundy wine sauce. We both cut into the chop and disagreed as to whether or not it was cooked medium or rare. My boyfriend loved it and I rated it ‘mediocre.’ The buttery potatoes melted in our mouths and the grilled asparagus disappeared within three minutes. Our friends split the sea bass served on a bed of artichoke hearts with fingerling potatoes and garnished with arugula and lemon vinaigrette. Their main course didn’t last long on the plate. We didn’t taste it, but since they were unanimous in their opinions, we gave it a thumbs up.
Dessert consisted of a lemon mascarpone cheesecake and an ‘on the house’ vanilla panna cotta. The cheesecake melted in my mouth. I took a small spoonful of the brulee and inhaled scrapings of the vanilla bean which made me cough like crazy, but no one noticed. They were too busy finishing off the scrumptious desserts.