Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Where to Eat: Central

I love fried chicken. I could it eat it for every meal, 7 days a week. But, since I don’t want to end up with diabetes, or star on My 600 Pound Life, I am forced to eat it in moderation. Growing up, I remember eating fried chicken after church with my family on Sunday afternoons. Yes, I realize that my life sounds like a stereotypical country music song, so it would make you laugh to know that I actually grew up on a farm.

Now, before I give you the wrong idea, Central Michel Richard (hint: it’s pronounced Sin-Trawl) does not serve southern food. Instead, the website describes it as “Traditional American cuisine with a French flair.” But, regardless of what type of food it is, delicious is the most accurate description.

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On Thursday afternoon, my craving for fried chicken kicked in so I called Lexi and asked if she wanted to meet at Central for lunch. She naturally agreed, as resisting Central is nearly an impossible task. Our friend Jen, also a Central fan, wanted to join us as well, so we all agreed to meet at 12:30 and I was more excited than anyone could imagine.

One of the most important things to know about Central is that I have never eaten there when it is not busy. While there is minimal first come, first served, bar-are seating available, if you have a party of more than 4 guests I recommend calling ahead for reservations. Central is generally able to squeeze small parties in for same day reservations, but for larger parties I suggest calling a few days in advance. You can also make reservations using Open Table.

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When we arrived at Central, Lexi, Jen, and I snagged one of the few bar-area tables and didn’t even bother checking the menu. The fried chicken is their most popular dish, and in my opinion, the best. Therefore, Jen and I chose the chicken, and Lexi had the chopped salad (we are frequents guests at Central and these are our standing orders). We ordered our drinks and meals, and munched on the warm bread while we waited for our food.

Not long after we ordered, our food arrived and we immediately dug in; we were not disappointed! The chicken was perfectly prepared, pan fried, and amazingly light and crispy; served with a mustard dipping sauce, buttery mashed potatoes and a lightly dressed green salad, it makes a fantastic meal. And naturally, I am quite particular about my fried chicken, so my rave review is saying something. I don’t give out compliments easily, as my standards are quite high. Similarly, Lexi had only wonderful things to say about the chopped salad.

While I always order the fried chicken when eating at Central, I have never dined with any guest that is disappointed, regardless of their order. The lobster burger is one of their specialties, and my friends have also said wonderful things about the rotisserie chicken, regular burger and reuben sandwich. In terms of appetizers, you can’t go wrong with the cheese balls or onion soup, and for dessert, the chocolate bar is divine. Overall, everything on the menu is fantastic!

Central is open for lunch and dinner and also is a great place to visit for happy hour. Additionally, there is private dining space available for corporate meals. And recently, Central launched a to-go menu that includes chicken to-go buckets, served with mashed potatoes and nuggets. That is absolutely on my must try list.

The only warning I give about Central is that it can be quite loud, no matter what time you dine. So if you are looking to have an intimate conversation, it will be quite difficult. Other than that, however, Central is one of my favorite places to eat in the District.

Central, located at 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, is easily accessed by Metro Center and Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter, Metro stations. For my fellow drivers, valet parking is also available for dinner.

So whether you are meeting friends for lunch, looking for a great happy hour, or need a place to eat dinner before catching a show, I absolutely recommend Central, it won’t let you down!

Cheers to Fried Chicken Even My Girl Paula Deen Would Love,

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