Central Kitchen, opened about 5 months ago by the Ne Timeas Restaurant Group, is located only a block away from its established sister restaurant, Flour + Water (click to view post). Sharing the same executive chef, Thomas McNaughton, the menu is focused more on upscale, local Californian cuisine. The decor can best be described as minimalist and industrial, with wood tables setup in a mostly concrete space. With a curated song list (available at the hostess stand), we were serenaded by Depeche Mode most of the evening that we dined there.
With only a beer and wine license available, they do a good job of offering some aperitivos to help get the digestive fluids going. We started with a glass of the slightly bitter Vergano Americano Aperitif (Chinato-style vermouth from Piemonte) served with soda water and the smoky-tasting El Maestro Sierra Fino Sherry:
We ordered the fried hen with bitter greens from the small bites section. It was served with aioli and cured egg yolk which was prepared soft-boiled, dehydrated then grated on top. The only complaint we had about this dish was that it was not available as a larger entrée option:
The bread service was a rye and caraway seed house-made roll with butter:
We decided to go with an all seafood meal from this point, so we opted for a very reasonably priced Grillo from Sicily:
The local sardines were served lightly fried. The filets were buried under barley, shaved fennel, and broccoli rabe. The meyer lemon aioli added some nice acidity and balance:
The seared squid was served with fresh shelling beans, red jalapeño slices, black olives and squid ink:
The squid ink was so thick it easily coated the beans. The squid was soft and perfectly cooked:
For the entrée course, we went with the bass served with hay roasted potato, nettles & sauce vierge (herb, oil and lemon sauce). The roasted potatoes were soft and tasty, as was the rest of the dish:
Reservations at its older sister restaurant Flour + Water are much harder to get. It’s unclear if the opening of Central Kitchen will ever help alleviate the crowds at Flour + Water since the menus are very different. But it does provide another reason to visit this part of the Mission on 20th Street.