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Not everything comes together as well as Barto intends, though. Sauce underneath the crispy, skin-on bass is all color (brilliant emerald) but no flavor. One night the pour of parsnip soup was so skimpy, the bowl resembled a drought-stricken pond, with low water levels revealing edibles underneath. While the duck breast is well-rendered and boasts a crispy skin, the bland preparation makes the main event less interesting than the sideshow of duck confit mixed with root vegetables. And on the service front, napkins are not refolded when a guest leaves the table mid-meal, and at times servers invent ingredients rather than check with the chef.

With his technically excellent but still approachable menu, Barto is joining a growing number of chefs who are challenging outdated notions about what neighborhood restaurants can be. Comfort food doesn't have to be simple, like macaroni and cheese or pizza, to make us feel good, he seems to be saying; it just has to taste good. Now if only he could tone down that anxiety-causing, eyestrain-inducing sign: His food is hot enough on its own.

The vegetable salad at Central Bistro & Bar is a testament to raw courage. Slide show: A Closer Look at Central Bistro & Bar
Mark Manger
The vegetable salad at Central Bistro & Bar is a testament to raw courage. Slide show: A Closer Look at Central Bistro & Bar
Mark Manger

Location Info

Map

Central Bistro & Bar

1691 Central St.
Denver, CO 80211

Category: Restaurant > New American

Region: Northwest Denver

Details

Central Bistro & Bar
Goat-cheese dumplings $12
Confit chicken wings $7
Pork belly $12
Raw vegetable salad $8
Cream of parsnip soup $8
Roasted chicken breast $20
Pork chop $25
Duck breast $23
Striped bass $24
Nutella waffle $8

Slide show: A Closer Look at Central Bistro & Bar
1691 Central Street
303-477-4582
Hours: 4:30-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 4:30-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Sunday

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Slide show: A Closer Look at Central Bistro & Bar

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4 comments
jennikoa
jennikoa

This is super nit-picky, but it's "mascarpone" not "marscapone". It's not really a rare ingredient anymore, so this error is kind of glaring.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

"napkins are not refolded when a guest leaves the table mid-meal"

I think there are only a couple of places in the whole city that do this. Nothing makes me feel more like I'm at a special-occasion restaurant than someone fussing with my napkin while I'm away from the table. If Central is trying to maintain a casual, neighborhood personality, such flourishes would feel overly formal.

Philo99
Philo99

Central Bistro a neighborhood restaurant? Maybe if we were at Miami Beach. With the glaring HOT sign, the white pleather seats, the cool metallic bar theme and the uptight bar stools, the last thing that comes to mind at Central is neighborhood restaurant. When a neighborhood restaurant pops in my head I think of a gathering place, where locals hang out to avoid their spouses. Just adding chicken wings and fried pickles to the happy hour menu does not turn you into a neighborhood restaurant.

I don't at all intend to disparage Central with that disagreement. I find Central to be a fine dining establishment, more destination spot than a neighborhood restaurant, and that is something they do well. The pork belly and the scallops are wonderful starters, and the raw vegetable salad is the definition of sophisticated simplicity.   Less impressive is the daily charcuterie, which may be true to definition,but most diners have come to expect more than a one note song when ordering a charcuterie platter.

Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

I, too, find the HOT sign a distraction.  It pretty much overtakes (not it a good way) an otherwise lovely restaurant.  It will not deter me from returning though.  We've been twice and the food has been sublime on both occasions.  Had the same very warm and helpful young woman server on both occasions and she remembered us and what we had eaten on our first visit and recommended different food and wine selections for a new experience.  Quickly becoming a favorite!

 
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