Centrico: Frank Said Knock Mama Out
Frank’s double-reviews, an innovation purely of his own in the annals of the Dining Times (or, rather, the Anals of the Dining Times until the early nineties it seems), have thus far followed similar templates, and this one’s no different—two restaurants in the same general category of cuisine, one old and stodgy, the other new and eager to please.
Howevs, this week, Frank makes it a family affair, delivering a fairly handy smackdown to Zarela Martinez as a foil for a healthy appreciation for her son’s new restaurant, Centrico. Her son, Aaron Sanchez, owes me several thousand dollars in child support for all the children I conceived during happy hour at his first restaurant, Paladar.
That’s Peter, he’s the oldest—he shines my shoes. Nicky, Ronaldo, and Tiny do most of the housework, and little Francisco, while only 6, is already a WHIZ with a blow dryer.
I don’t know if Sanchez is a man of honor, but if so, Count Frank might want to hide in his Louis Quatorze enamel-inlaid armoire for a few days, just to let the dust settle, no? I mean, he insulted this guy’s mama! And if there’s one thing I’ve gleaned from a close cinematic analysis of Mexicans like “Pappa” Sanchez (as my little ones call him), is that they love gunplay,
more gunplay, and
So when Sanchez shows up with huge prop guns, Frank, just be prepared to be tied to a kitchen chair and rigorously chafed by a unibrow. I think that’s the point I’m trying to make here. I don’t know. Three martini lunch, ya know? Anyway, let’s go back in time, to little Aaronito’s childhood:
“AARÓN SÁNCHEZ spent his boyhood in the heat and hullabaloo of professional kitchens, tied to his mother's apron strings in an almost literal way.”
"Mama, can I help with the tamales?"
"Oh Christ, not again."
"Centrico is a flashier, splashier bid for the big time than Mr. Sanchez's first restaurant, Paladar, which arrived on the Lower East Side about four years ago." My doctors concur that it was indeed four years ago:
"While Paladar serves pan-Latin American food, Centrico, like Zarela, focuses on Mexico. Mr. Sánchez is braising on his mother's turf. He also happens to be besting her. At Centrico, you can bet on a meal that will be at least somewhat pleasing. Zarela, in contrast, is a crapshoot."
And so it begins. The “Yo mama’s restaurant so inconsistent” joke only gets more painful:
“I sampled three chicken dishes…; in all cases, the meat was dry. A grouper special didn't taste remotely fresh.” Sad for Zarela. And sad for me! Bruni’s intra-familial wedge-driving this week has been notably sober in terms of language. At least his inner pickle-picking Peter Piper refuses to die: Arroz con crema went “from luscious one night to lumpy and leaden another.”
“But the relative merits of these two restaurants say less about whether a child's talents have outgrown a parent's than about something much less romantic: diligence.”
So in addition, “Yo mama’s so lazy.”
This situation is the reverse of the one my mother and I find ourselves in—I think we’re equally talented cooks, but while she’s sticking thromometer’s everywhere and measuring out things like “deciliters,” I use temperatures like “on fire” and quantities like “a contaminated handful.”
Jules delicately pan-fries tilapia fillets.
In the end, you really didn’t need to hear about Zarela to understand how Frank felt about Centrico—the maternal smackdown was totally incidental to his actual one-star review. But what’s done is done, and who knows? Maybe Sanchez is gloating—next time there’s a tiff in the Sanchez family kitchen, Aaron can always throw this in his mother’s face: “All these years later, her restaurant could take a few lessons from his.” Yowch! Then again, maybe he’s grabbing a huge fake gun and heading out the door on a mission of vengeance.
Then again, maybe not.
If you need to cleanse your visual palate from that disgusting image, you could always saunter over to the Accidental Hedonist, and vote for the Bruni Digest for Best Food Humor. Or you could just gauge your eyes out. Yuck!