Cafe Society

Matt Selby is back on his game with renewed energy -- and a new menu -- at Central Bistro & Bar

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During a recent tasting of several of Selby's new dishes, it was clear that he's practicing what he preaches. An exquisite lamb dish, transcending both seasons, is simply stunning, revealing a rich patch of robiola fondue and a spring lift of fresh chickpeas weaved with green and white asparagus, green onions and the subtle sharpness of radishes. His cioppino, fragrant with the sea-scent of mussels, clams and Maine lobster, benefits from a light -- but bracing -- broth poured in a stream from a pitcher. Grilled slices of bread that float on top are smeared with an assertive rouille pungent the anchovies and ancho chiles. His smoked pork ribs are propped atop a subtly sweet barbecue sauce that is, of course, messy, and in the mind of a thoughtful chef, a plain napkin won't do, so the plate is delivered to the table with a wet towel and a lemon tucked into a Staub dish. The little details matter.

A few of the most popular dishes -- the burger, for example -- remain on the menu, but the majority of the plates are new and jolted with an energetic bounce, similar to the spring in Selby's step. "I'm scraped, I'm bruised, burned and scared, but I'm so fucking happy," says Selby. "I'll admit that I fell in love with Central gradually, but I'm so thrilled to be here, and I'm thriving in a collaborative environment of people who share the same philosophies on cooking and hospitality as I do."

Here's a preview of some of Selby's new dishes (his spring menu launches today), along with a terrific dessert from pastry chef Heather Krussow, who Selby says is "killing it" and a few of the lovely spring cocktails from bar manager James Menkal.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson