Monday, June 21, 2010

Centro Has A New Chef

Centro Restaurant has a new executive chef, Jason Carter, who worked with Susur Lee for 10 years. I went to Centro to see what Chef Carter is presently doing and asked the chef to create a special menu to surprise my guests and I.

We began with dollops of caviar on egg cream atop a rye bread tuile, dusted with maltodextrin-vinegar powder. The soft, sensuous combination of the briny caviar and cream were a nice contrast with the crispy tuile. The tuile's rye flavour topped with the tart powder nicely enhanced the taste of the caviar.

Our following course, torchon of foie gras, was rolled in malt flakes and plated with raw marcona almonds, pitted halves of bing cherry and finished with a cherry-scented red wine gastrique. The crunchy texture and flavour of the almonds were a flattering combination with the fois gras. The tart cherry gastrique and the intense fruit flavour of the cherries brought out the rich taste of the fois gras, further enhancing our experience with this course.

Next came striped bass basted with sun dried tomato, on top of a green garlic puree and squid ink linguine, all topped with fresh peas and pea shoots. With this dish, the green garlic puree, fresh peas and especially the very sweet pea shoots, worked so well with the flavour of the fish. However, the bland squid ink lingine, although presented well, lent nothing to the flavours of this dish.

A summer truffle salad on crunchy, shredded phyllo, followed. The range of ingredients consisted of miner’s lettuce, shaved pieces of heirloom carrots, dandelion hearts, shredded cucumber and the seedy gelatinous tart cores of heirloom tomatos, all finished with a truffle, caper, shallot and white wine vinaigrette. What a fabulous presentation and what a range of wonderful contrasts of flavours and textures!! This salad was an experience!

We were then presented with a spring lamb shank on Sardinian pastini with a sweet tomato-cured chili jam. I loved this presentation as well. The tender, slow cooked shank and pastini were pleasing and the chili jam had a nice bight that worked well with the mellow lamb flavour.

But we were surprised by more!! A whole rib steak topped with smoked veal marrow, British Columbia Chanterelless, black morel mushrooms and fingerling potatoes. Now, this final course was too much, even for the trenchermen!! However, I had to taste the elements. The steak was slightly overdone for me as I would have preferred rare to medium rare and my steak was cooked almost medium. However, the flavours of the beef with the chanterelles and morels was wonderful. And, I could never turn down smoked veal marrow, although I would have preferred a stronger smoke flavour.

Finally, we enjoyed a lovely intense, dark chocolate tart filled with chocolate, caramel and cocoa nib ice cream. This was the perfect finish!


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