fuzzy memories at bar cento

I mentioned before that I think I’m on the verge of becoming a Bar Cento addict. Well, it’s no longer a possibility, it’s happened – I’m bona fide Bar Cento junkie. And after our meal there on Friday, I doubt I’m alone.

We were supposed to go to Bar Cento several weeks ago with friends, but the weather had other plans (it was the weekend of the blizzard). It actually worked out for the best, because this way more were able to join, including our friend who was in town for the weekend.

Part of this post should serve as an open letter to apologize to the people sitting near us and to the staff. While I think we were ok during the first hour (before alcohol kicked in), I know it was all downhill from there and we were probably borderline obnoxious (I vaguely remember some chair dancing…) not to mention loud (actually, we’re loud in general, but alcohol definitely amplifies it).

There were 10 of us and we were divided; husbands on one end and the girls on the other. This is pretty typical when we all get together (then my husband and I swap stories on the way home since it’s almost like two separate nights). I have been friends with these girls for most of my life, since grade school really, so there is a lot of history. They are my closest friends. We share a lot, especially our love for great food and wine – and we aren’t shy about it.

We started with three bottles of cab, the antipasto plate with various salumis and the Ohio lamb steak appetizer with white beans and crusty bread. This is what the girls started with anyway; the boys had beer and fries from what I could tell. I also tried to order the cheese plate, but was sadly informed they no longer offer it. Big disappointment; they featured some great local cheese.

The wine, of course, was wonderful and so were all the appetizer really. There was only one cured meat I didn’t care for; it was a bit too smoky for my taste. The lamb also won rave reviews and I think was everyone’s favorite.

As for dinner, we (just the girls) ordered several plates to share, including the Sunnyside pizza, pumpkin ravioli and the roasted goat porchetta stuffed with fennel and garlic, a new item on the menu. For sides, we went with the braised fennel and sliced tomatoes, another new item.

While we waited for our dinners, Chef Sawyer sent out some of the famous fries with those addicting little sauces and some warm, marinated olives. All winners – especially the fries.

The pizza, which we ordered light on pepper, was probably the best yet. While I definitely enjoy it with all its pepper glory, I’m not a huge pepper fan and much preferred it this way. The pumpkin ravioli was also incredible. Not too sweet and not overbearing, just the right amount of flavor and cooked perfectly. It was a nice treat to see this on the menu in April and I hope it’s there for a while. As for the standout of the night, for me at least, was the porchetta. Wow, this was simply fantastic, juicy and very flavorful. I’ve never had this before and can’t wait to have it again. For the sides, the tomatoes were gone in seconds flat – a big hit (I just wish I could remember all that went into this side; unfortunately, I didn’t write it down). The fennel, on the other hand, while definitely good was not as great as it has been on past visits. We all enjoyed it, but it just tasted slightly off from previous visits.

After dinner, we ordered two bottles of champagne (as if we needed more alcohol at this point) and macarons. I wish I could remember the champagne we had because I really enjoyed it – at least I think I did! All I remember is that the server said it was featured the night before at the Rock & Roll wine project (I really have to make a point to get to one of those dinners). As for the macarons, they were ok, but again, tasted different and not nearly as memorable when we had them on our first visit.

Overall, it was truly a wonderful evening with great food and even better company. Between the music, décor, location, wine list, service (albeit slow at times – a small price to pay for such reasonable prices – but still attentive and informative) and of course the food and the chef’s overall approach, this place truly is one of the city’s best. And why we will be repeat guests for a long time to come.


  1. Skeezix
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    I would so love to go out with you sometime, because it sounds like we have the same taste in mildly drunken shenannigans. (Uh, like tonight- stupid happy hour.)

    Anyways, dinner sounds amazing. I bet there are worse things to be than a bar centro junkie.

  2. Life in Recipes
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Sounds like a great night of food and festivity. I know what you mean about becoming addicted to Bar Cento. Can it qualify as my corner bar even though it’s a good 20 minute trip across town?

  3. Allison M.
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Yes, I’m guilty of getting louder and louder as I drink. I think it’s so people can hear me better. I always tip more when our group is being more obnoxious than usual.

  4. michelle v
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    It definitely was a great night! But I should have stopped before the champagne… But, everyone needs nights like these now and then – I just can’t believe how long it takes to recover anymore!

    And yes, you can still consider it your corner bar – we do!

  5. Chef's Widow
    Posted April 9, 2008 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    The tomato salad is a personal fave:

    olive oil
    red onion

  6. michelle v
    Posted April 11, 2008 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing the rest of the dish. So simple but so so delicious!