Central Bistro Starts Off Right Down the Middle
Central Bistro's desserts come courtesy of pastry chef Kristen Salinas. And the menu suggests that if you can't decide which one to order you can "get the whole damn dessert menu for $45" -- a curious offer given that if you purchased each dessert separately, the total for all six would be only $44.
I opted for the Floating Island ($8), an old-school French dessert featuring mounds of meringue floating on crème anglaise (a vanilla custard). Its bites of crunchy meringue soaked in a not-too-sweet smooth vanilla custard were wonderfully sumptuous. And the Riesling-soaked strawberries were a nice, slightly boozy touch.
With large windows that let in the fall air, a lounge-worthy bar/patio area, and a glass-walled exhibition kitchen, Central Bistro has done a stellar job in making its new digs a decidedly roomy and pleasant place. And decor materials such as wood, brick, leather, and white marble make it a clean and contemporary one as well. The service seems to match the atmosphere: a kind of refined casualness that never gets too informal.
But atmosphere alone won't be enough if Central Bistro is to stay competitive in this neighborhood of noteworthy upscale restaurants. With the chef Claudio Urciuoli-led Noca located in the same shopping center and the award-winning Tarbell's just across Camelback, diners in the area can afford to be choosy with their dollars -- even if it means spending a few more of them -- for an exceptional meal. Central Bistro will need to bring its cuisine from good to great in a hurry to be considered a contender.