The Restaurant:  Centrico
 

 

211 West Broadway
212-431-0700
Rating: ****
Price Range: $25-$60

When New Yorkers go looking for “home cooking,” they often find themselves in front of Italian bistros with homemade pasta or tiny Jamaican joints with bowls of rice and beans. My choice is always Mexican, so I was happy to discover rising star chef Aarón Sanchez had created Centrico, broadening my Mexican horizons. Sanchez joined forces with Drew Nieporent, the power behind a little place called Nobu, to create an airy space on West Broadway and Franklin with massive windows and a sunset-by-the-sea palette of orange, red and blue. The menu is a culinary tour through Sanchez’s native Mexico, focusing less on the northern fare I’ve always loved — instead of taquitos and mole, I was greeted with seared fish and ceviche.

After a couple of disappointing cocktails and a sad empty place where chips and salsa could have been, the Picadas ($8) were a taste of something I was used to – soft corn tarts crowned with roasted tomato and tomatillo salsas and queso fresco. Centrico offers a fantastic selection of ceviches and the Lemon Ceviche ($9) was delightfully citrusy with its blend of shrimp, mango and jalapeño. The fish tasted like it had just been caught that afternoon, especially the Pescado Michi ($19), or Market Fish, which happened to be a buttery-soft striped bass accompanied by a lime, cilantro and serrano chile relish. The Atun con Flores de Calabaza ($21), a seared tuna steak with squash blossoms and salsa verde, managed to pack more salt and spice flavor than I’d thought possible in such a bland fish. Centrico even managed to shine where many ‘fresh and spicy’ restaurants fail, in desserts, where rose petal ice cream seemed a dish fit for a princess and the rich Molten Mexican Chocolate cake was perfectly paired with a mild corn-flavored ice cream (both $6).

The sheer pleasure of the meal was mitigated only by an environment that is, to speak plainly, extremely loud. The massive windows bordering the restaurant are a warm lure from the street, but inside they are towering half-reflective surfaces that meet a high ceiling and create a massive chamber for echoes. Intimate it wasn’t, but this meal was way too classy to be labeled “home cooking.”

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