Mackerel with avocados, pickled celery, and pine nuts.
Yes, Central Kitchen has gotten much press. It’s been called “hotly anticipated” and referred to as an “upscale” spinoff of Flour + Water — we ourselves have called it “the poor man’s Saison,” which is meant to evoke the vibe and style of the food, not to mention the proximity to the two-Michelin-starred Saison nearby on Folsom Street, which is now one of the priciest tickets in town. After all the hype, executive chef Thomas McNaughton and chef de cuisine Michael Gaines are doing their damndest to live up to it. They are putting out a bevy of inspired, fresh, deceptively simple but refined dishes, as evidenced by a recent meal we had there.
We opted for the tasting menu and can’t yet speak to the à la carte side, which changes nightly and features a mostly different set of plates. The restaurant is still in its infancy, and much like Saison we expect it to find its footing and increasingly refine its voice over the coming months. But, the stuff is pretty solid already, and for your food-porn pleasure, here’s a glimpse of how things look at this early stage.