In all the years coming to the area, I don’t recall us ever having dinner around the Square in the Port. But we wanted to try Centric – partly because its menu was a bit different; partly because it had been ranked “best” in the Port by members of a local discussion forum.
Now, when I say the menu is a bit different, I mean it’s a bit odd. Centric doesn’t seem to know what it is and the menu influences are all over the place. Think Spain meets Italy meets a distant cousin from East Asia. It’s not that it’s fusion food (although that would have been bad enough). It’s that the east asian dishes are just chucked in there. So, for instance, in amongst the very Italian pasta dishes, you’ll also find Japanese soba noodles. Frankly, this sort of mishmash is not something that fills me with any enthusiasm.
The other thing that didn’t fill me with enthusiasm was they’d cocked up my reservation. I know I had booked it for “this night”, they had written it down as “that night”. So, there needed to be discussion with the manager about whether we were going to be seated. Then when I sat down, I had to ask for new cutlery as the kit on the table was dirty. These things happen. Even in the best of places. They shouldn’t. Really , they shouldn’t. But they do.
However, back to the menu. Strip away the asian wackiness and you’ve got quite a sensible menu. There was a sort of bruschetta – although the bread was not toasted. It was drizzled with balsamic vinegar and topped with confit figs and shavings of Parmesan. It was really well balanced and thoroughly enjoyable.
The house salad was based on mixed leaves – the sort you get in a supermarket pack – and a scattering of walnuts and raisins. A slice of very mild goats cheese had been warmed through under the grill and then topped with a berry sauce. It made it all quite sweet and really needed the cheese to be much more goaty as a counterbalance.
Lasagne was OK. A decent meat sauce but there was little or no béchamel. Steak was a very thin Argentinian cut and was a tasty bit of cow. There were fried potatoes and mixed veg prepared, I think, with one of those spiral gizmos that gives them the shape of spaghetti or similar. Bean sprouts were an incongruous inclusion, as they had been in the earlier salad.
Fruit salad was a simple dessert and there’s nothing much to say about it, other than it was fine. There’s also not much to say about the tiramisu which, like all their desserts, is house made. As so often the case, it lacked the kick from booze and strong coffee that you expect from a well made one. But, for something where the flavours are limited to cream and sugar, it was OK.
We had a pleasant enough evening but not one that I’d rate as close to “the best” the Port can offer.