5/10/2012 09:09:00 PM

Central Kitchen Opens in the Mission Tonight

Ham 'n cheese gets a makeover at Central Kitchen

The wait is over. Central Kitchen, the much-awaited for spin-off restaurant from Flour + Water's Thomas McNaughton has opened its doors tonight. The varnish was still drying on the chairs earlier today, and the 12-seat communal table for the outdoor courtyard was completed in the nick of time.

To recap, Central Kitchen will be a paean to the evolution of what Californian cuisine has become. The compact menu highlights the local producers and larder of Northern California but elevates the fresh product with technical prowess and elegant plating. We're not talking molecular gastronomy - but nor are we saying figs on a plate. To wit, local dandelion greens are used in multiple ways - young shoots are served raw, medium sized greens are dehydrated, ground into a power and then tossed over radish that are then roasted in the coals. In other words, McNaughton, who previous worked at Gary Danko, Quince and La Folie, and executive sous chef Michael Gaines, formerly of Manresa, show off their more refined cooking talent. Rounding out the talent is pastry chef Lisa Lu, formerly of Jardiniere.

The a la carte menu ranges $13 for a ham, bread and Cabot cheese salad (featured above) to $27 for a spring lamb with spiced carrot puree and those said roasted radishes. A night tasting menu - five courses based around the guests' tastes - costs $79, with an additional beverage pairing for another $50.

Central Kitchen: 782 Florida Street (at 20th St); 415-826-7004; serving nightly from 5:30-11PM.

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