I didn’t think it was possible, but there are actually a few people in town who have yet to experience Bar Cento - and our neighbors are on that short list. So last Friday when we made plans for dinner, we immediately suggested this place after learning they weren’t familiar with it.
From the second we walked in, we knew they’d be happy with our choice. They both quickly commented on both the decor and music (from Fleetwood Mac to Genesis that evening) and couldn’t believe they haven’t been here sooner. Which then prompted my neighbor to pull out a sheet of paper which she handed to me so I could jot down my other favorites in town that they need to check out.
For starters, we were treated to the antipasto selection and sliced Ohio cucumbers courtesy of Chef Sawyer (thanks again, chef!).
I’ve had the antipasto plate several times but have to say this was the best version yet. The only item I wasn’t crazy for was the cheese, but each piece of the salumi was perfect. I knew being pregnant combined with the heat I was going to regret all that salt the next day, but I didn’t care and happily finished off the plate. This was my first time trying the cucumbers and they were surprisingly good. I say that because I am not a big cucumber fan but I did really enjoy these. They were gone in about 30 seconds flat, so I think it’s safe to say everyone was happy with this simple dish.
Jonathon chatted with us quite a bit that night (even shared some recent pics of their adorable kids) and completely impressed our neighbors. They were blown away by his skills and just how much he has already accomplished – and that he’s only 28!
By the way, a huge congrats to Chef Sawyer and everyone at Bar Cento for being recognized as the best new restaurant in town. Very well deserved.
For the rest of the meal, we of course ordered our usual favorite, the Sunnyside pizza, and since my one neighbor isn’t much of an adventurous eater, we did also go for the traditional marinara with Parmesan and mozzarella. Plus an order of the pommes frites and baked tomato and bread salad for the table.
As usual, the Sunnyside pizza was perfect. This pizza consistently delivers. And the traditional pizza was rather tasty, too. Actually, I ended up having more of this version than the Sunnyside because I really enjoyed the sauce. It made for a great leftover the next day, too.
Although I enjoyed everything, I’d have to say my favorite dish of the night was the baked tomato and bread salad. Everest, our server, (who is also the beverage director) talked us into this over the tomato salad with poached egg and I’m glad he did (although I look forward to trying that other salad soon). The tomatoes were nice and juicy. And I learned they were baked in milk – a new kick the chef is on. I never would have guessed that or thought to use milk with tomatoes, but it clearly works, and works well, so what do I know! And the bread cubes, which were covered in Parmesan cheese, were simply delicious. They almost had a nutty flavor.
For dessert, the chef and Everest treated us to a few more goodies, including the lavender panna cotta with fennel blossom (I believe this was in it – I actually forgot my notepad that night and am going from memory) and more milk. Plus we got to sample a small taste of the sparkling apple cider from the Rock n’ Roll wine project the night before (the Famille L. DuPont from Domaine DuPont 2006).
If I weren’t pregnant, I could have easily drank half that bottle (ok, probably the whole thing…). It was that good – and different. We actually had a great discussion with Jonathon and Everest on this drink and why this is something Ohio should be producing. Again, without having my notebook that evening, I wasn’t able to capture everything – and they gave us all a great education. Look for more to come on this later with a Q & A with Everest.
One item I almost forgot to mention. Jonathon has been experimenting with a few vinegars to compliment the fries (as if they need anything else beyond the three types of mayonnaise). One has more of a wine base and the other a beer – I want to say Belgian wheat and malt beers, but again, no notebook equals poor memory. I tried both and my favorite was the beer-based vinegar. I’m actually a huge fan of vinegar on fries, so I’m happy to have this addition at the restaurant. The other was ok but I think he was still working on that one.
At the end of the night, we all left very full, very happy and very eager to come back. Bar Cento is truly one of the city’s best and therefor very deserving of its recent recognition.