An anonymous reader responded to Eater's call for a report from the inner sanctum of one of the Central Kitchen preview dinners. To date, chef Thomas McNaughton has said he'll serve a more refined menu at the forthcoming concept—no pizza, no pasta—but he hasn't gone into much detail beyond that. This being one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of 2012, and all, it's only fair to share our tipster's detailed blow-by-blow. This should clear some things up:
"There were eight people at the first preview dinner at the dough room of Flour + Water. Executive Chef Tom McNaughton and Chef D'Cuisine Michael Gaines served eight official courses with various amuses peppered in. The focus of the new restaurant is Northern California - whatever that means at any given time. They are hyper-focused on seasonality and sourcing local. Many of the ingredients came from the rooftop garden or very close by.
Standout dishes were:
Hedgehog. Egg yolk. Brioche. Horseradish: At first the circulated egg seemed a little dense but then it melted into the other ingredients and the whole thing came together.
Ramps. Whey. Peas. Fava: Somehow they managed to take these simple things and make a bowl of happiness dotted with veggies of love. Every bit of the ramp was used (are they starting a whole-vegetable movement? yes they are!). It was a puree and a soup and a cassoulet all at the same time. It was wonderful.
Roasted Spring Lamb. Potato Confit, Young Leeks, lemon puree: The lamb was cooked to perfection, which even the best chef's often screw up. In fact, it was aged in house and had the texture to prove it.
There was also a lamb broth (not on the menu) that had a wonderfully dense meaty flavor. They did a juicy hen, a slightly dry (but flavorful) halibut and a cute ham & cheese interpretation, asparagus & oysters, sea urchin and the richest fish roe imaginable.
Wine pairings were solid, going big on whites with only a red for the lamb. Dessert of Chocolate. Hazelnut and Caramel was really much more than that—by pastry chef Lisa Lu. Reminding us of the fact that this is their second restaurant, all of the music played was from the second album of classic rock bands, including Rolling Stones "12x5", Zeppelin II and David Bowie's Station to Station. [sic]"
Central Kitchen should be opening at the end of the month.