Note: Centrico closed in August 2012. A “public house” called Distilled replaced it. Centrico’s chef, Aarón Sánchez, says he hopes to open another Mexican restaurant somewhere in New York.
Until last week, Centrico was the only one of Myriad Restaurant Group’s high-gloss dining establishments where I had never had a full meal. That surprised me, because I am fond of restauranteur Drew Nieporent’s other places (Corton, Tribeca Grill, Nobu, and even the late lamented Mai House), and Centrico is only a five-minute walk from my office.
But for whatever reason, the Mexican-themed Centrico doesn’t exert the same gravitational pull as Myriad’s other restaurants. Its outdoor tables are reliably occupied in good weather, but on a cold autumn Friday evening the large dining room was practically deserted. It’s the size of a warehouse, and no more charming than a hundred other Mexican places you’ve been to.
We wonder how much attention chef Aarón Sánchez gives this restaurant, given his commitments to his other NYC restaurant, Paladar, plus food network shows, cookbooks, and so forth? The menu is inexpensive, but we found the food uneven, and frankly uninspired.
Guacamole ($12; right) lacked the vibrant flavor that Frank Bruni praised in his 2006 review, and it didn’t seem to be fresh. The multi-colored chips Bruni mentioned have been replaced by generic ones that could have come from the supermarket.
A Vegetable Quesadilla ($10; above left) didn’t have much flavor on its own, though the spicy tomatilla salsa on the side somewhat rescued it. Pulpo a la Plancha (10; above right), or baby octopus, tasted rubbery.
Roasted Chicken ($20; above left) was the best thing we tried. The skin had a smoky garlic flavor, while the meat was tender and juciy. But Braised Short Ribs ($23; above right) were a dull, stringy, soupy mess. I liked Sánchez’s take on corn on the cob ($7; below); by the time I tasted it, I wished I hadn’t filled up on so many far less satisfying items.
I had intended to visit Centrico about a month earlier, but on the day of our reservation the restaurant had to close because of a mechanical failure, and management offered us a return visit on the house. We were treated with admirable courtesy and weren’t charged a dime.
It is therefore unfortunate to report that we found so much of the food so dull, even by the generally low standards of Mexican cuisine in Manhattan.
Centrico (211 West Broadway at Franklin Street, TriBeCa)