Central Table Food Hall is landing in my old neighborhood, the lower Central West End, and it's the perfect location for this new outfit. Some people have likened it to Eataly or the Plaza Food Hall in New York City, but I think that's not quite on the money. It's going to be a multifaceted restaurant with a big grab-and-go section. Folks on their way home from BJC or Washington University Med School's labs or classrooms, for instance, can stop by for carryout or sushi or a pizza, or just stop and have dinner. Once lunch service starts, I'm sure the be-scrubbed (as I was for many years) will be rushing in and out to fetch something different for sustenance during their shifts.
They open Wednesday, May 1, for dinner, but there's been action for the past few nights as guests culled from their Facebook followers have gone in by reservation for soft-opening dinners. I dropped by on one of those nights at the invitation of Matt McGuire, who's running things. Matt was at the helm of the much-missed King Louie's on Chouteau, and, in the interests of full disclosure, his father John, the late Post-Dispatch writer, and my late husband Joe were close friends. Joe knew Matt and his brothers from infancy.
As at Louie's, it's easy to eat at the large bar, often a really good idea for solo diners. I nibbled around and had a glass of lambrusco. Wait, wait, it's not the sweet stuff of our misspent youths. This is dry and fruity and with maybe just a hint of fizz, very nice and works with lots of different foods. The star of the evening was gnocchi with bacon and clams and tomato. They've brought in some guys from Roberta's, a restaurant in Brooklyn, and one of them is their pasta and pizza maker. The gnocchi are amazingly light. One can't really talk about a "sauce" with them, just some pan juices, but it was a great dish. Taken alone, the juices are quite salty, but with a bite of the pasta, fabulous.
The single dessert available - remember, these were training nights - was a strawberry soup. Very thick and creamy, like a pudding, really, but calling it strawberry pudding somehow doesn't work to the ear. Topped with a wee scoop of lime granita, rose petals, a dab of cotton candy and three wee meringues that had been toasted, it was excellent. And, by the way, an example of modern dessert construction, with four separate things that required creating before combining them.
Lots of things going on here, sushi, a raw bar, a coffee bar, which will provide morning sustenance even before they open for lunch, and, not surprisingly, a good and interesting wine list. Watch the website or Facebook for the lunch opening day. For now, hang on until Wednesday night.
Valet parking ($4) at night, or a freebie in the Barnes garage just to the west of the building, also only at night. BJC is, after all, the landlord.
23 S. Euclid
Wheelchair access: Good
Entrees: Not available at this tim