Central Food. Maybe the weakest – OK, that’s a bit harsh, but it’s certainly the least descriptive – name we can think of for a food establishment. Why? Because it doesn’t begin to tell you what this 8-month-old restaurant in Kendall Yards has to offer.
Not knowing exactly where we were going except it’s on the north side of the Spokane River, finding Central Food was like stumbling across an oasis after a trip through an area we didn’t want to get lost in.
What we discovered was pleasant decor, awesome view, great service and quality food – and wine. Everything we like in a dining experience.
Although new restaurants face an uphill battle, this one will definitely fill a niche near the courthouse. And if the Kendall Yards development ultimately succeeds, we can’t think of any reason why Central Food won’t. Enough people told us the ribs were outstanding – including our terrific waitress Lydia – that we bypassed those on a recent visit. After much waffling we settled on the Idaho Trout, Lamb Pasta and Paella.
The trout ($18) was the favorite, thanks to the blackberry vinaigrette to go with grilled romaine, green beans and almonds.
The penne pasta ($18) wasn’t far off with the lamb sausage, Nicoise olives, roasted peppers, spinach and basil-almond pesto. A little of this made it home and it was better with age.
The paella ($18), a Spanish rice dish, fell a little short. The reason is simple: My wife makes sensational paella. Central Food’s version features clams, chicken, house chorizo, scallions and tomatoes. Our house goes with different ingredients, the big difference being shrimp instead of clams. The clams were good, an addition I hope to see at home.
Portions were generous to the point of making an appetizer too much food, but we went for the highly recommended cheese plate. Commenting on the large chunks of cheese, Lydia laughed and said that’s why she didn’t say anything until after we ordered our entrees.
Another small point, the wine list was roughly double the price of the entrees … but the flip side is that maybe that translates into reasonably priced entrees, which varied from $16 for a tasty sounding Spring Pasta (now off the menu) or a $16 Nicoise Tuna Salad to $28 Ribeye Steak.
As we pondered the wine list, Lydia expertly steered us to a nice Spanish blend ($38) that was easy to enjoy with the appetizer and wasn’t lost with the flavorful entrees.
The lunch (ranging from $7-$10) and breakfast ($4-$10) are just as diverse as the dinner menu and explains a little bit about chef David Blaine.
A fixture in the community (seven years at Latah Bistro), Blaine wanted his own place to try what he wanted for every meal and not be fenced in by a theme. He also wanted Central Food to be a community place, and it definitely is that. The ambiance encourages small gatherings and a curious palate.
It’s hard to argue with a chef who discusses music on Facebook and who used the media to request a television to watch the Tour de France. (If you’re a rider, and with that breakfast menu, this is going to be a good month.) Blaine also blogs and tweets.
And when you’re done, step out the door and take a walk along the bluff overlooking the river – a perfect way to savor a great meal.