February 5, 2014

First Look: Central Provisions

The much-anticipated Central Provisions opened last night on the corner of Fore and Wharf Street. I stopped in for a (two plus hour) happy hour and had a cocktail and some small plates. The two-story restaurant is in a space which was formerly a women's clothing shop and has been beautifully redone with exposed brick and warm wood. 

The Fore Street floor has an open kitchen with bar seating and tables along the wall and front windows. The restroom is behind a beautiful sliding barn door. I didn't make my way downstairs, but I understand there's a bar and maybe an entrance to Wharf Street.

I met my friend Cupcakes and her girlfriends; we sat in the window right next to the front entrance. I remarked that if I were crotchety or not bundled up as well, that I would have been cold with the draft coming from the wall behind me and the front door. 

I enjoyed a Corpse Reviver #3.5 ($11), a bittersweet pink cocktail of Campari, bourbon, bitters, and maybe vermouth? It was delicious. There's a long list of house cocktails and several draught beers. A. enjoyed a Bissell Brothers Substance. 

The menu is all small plates, with some larger portions of a few constituting as entrees. We shared the artichoke, ricotta, and chicken skin cold plate ($10), intrigued by the chicken skin. It was finely diced and sprinkled on top, lending a really nice smoky, umami touch.

We also shared the ham and cheese croquettes served with pomegranate honey ($7) and brussels sprouts with horseradish and Pecorino cheese ($9). The brussels sprouts, while delicious, are roasted to order? So took about an hour to come out? I can't see that being sustainable, but maybe just a product of opening night.

The menu is very intriguing, with small plates of sweet breads, skate wing, razor clams, suckling pig, and sardines. I love that the menu is all small plates, encouraging sharing and lingering. However, I could also see where you could stop in for a bite, spend a lot of money, and still feel like you haven't had dinner.

But Central Provisions is a beautiful restaurant and immediately felt like a place that was welcoming to everyone. I'm sure it will be immensely popular with young and older folks alike. It seems to strike a nice balance between a special occasion place and a casual, but upscale, after-work spot. Enjoy!