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Central Standard is the New "It" Spot on SoCo

05.05.2016 by: Beth Stockwell Vanderkolk
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With a hotel as stunning as South Congress Hotel, it's fair to assume that a restaurant that opens inside will be equally as beautiful. Central Standard, the upscale restaurant in the hotel, opened recently and doesn't disappoint on both style and taste. The restaurant manages to be masculine yet romantic, open yet cozy, and hip but not trendy, all at once.

Central Standard exterior

Something I immediately noticed about Central Standard was that there are various different areas to choose from for seating. There's a small lounge area in the front that's perfect for waiting for a table, a few outdoor tables outside in front of the restaurant, an entire outdoor patio on the side of the restaurant near the entrance, tons of tables in front of the kitchen (with a great view of the wood-fired oven), and a gorgeous bar inside, as well. I was visiting for lunch and chose a table near the kitchen so I could keep my eye on its inner workings.

Indoor lounge, indoor bar, wood-fired kitchen, and outdoor seating

The furniture in the restaurant is beautiful, as is the table setting. I ordered a glass of rose to sip on while perusing the menu, and the waiter rushed right off to get it. It arrived in no time, not a fingerprint to be seen on the chilled glass. I decided to also order an appetizer from their Snacks menu- the Warm Potato Bread comes with crème fraîche butter, lemon, and smoked sea salt for $9. The bread landed on the table, warm and fragrant. I was off to a great start.

Central Standard menu

Potato Bread and a glass of rose

My lunch table was within sight of the raw bar, so I knew I couldn't pass up just a few oysters. There's a great selection, mostly from the East Coast. I trusted the waiter to choose 3 for me. The oysters were fantastic- super fresh, foamy, and with a great amount of brine. I could've eaten a dozen, but there was more to be ordered!

A small oyster sampling from their raw bar

For my entree, I settled on the Yellowfin Tuna Salad, made with mango, basil, sesame, arugula, and white miso vinaigrette for $22. The price is a bit steep for a salad entree, but the tuna was super fresh, and I kept in mind that dining at a hotel is often a bit pricier than regular restaurants. The salad was delicious, and I decided it was worth the price. I was dining with a vegetarian friend who aptly noticed the distinct lack of vegetarian options. There's plenty to choose from if you're a pescatarian, but if you don't eat fish or meat, you're borderline SOL. She ordered the Grilled Broccolini and Steak Chips (both sides), and they turned out to be more than enough as a meal. The broccolini is beautifully plated with pine nuts, fresno chili, lemon, and parmesan. The broth is absolutely divine, and the extra potato bread was perfect for sopping it up. The Steak Chips came in a generous portion that we ended up sharing. Though her meal wasn't necessarily an entree, she was thrilled with how the meal panned out. My only critique of the menu would be that it was lacking some sort of pasta or veggie main.

Yellowfin Tuna Salad

Broccolini side dish

Steak Chips side dish

Central Standard absolutely did not disappoint, and I know I'll be back again. The raw bar is a sight to be seen, and I can't wait to go back for dinner to try their razor clams. If the thought of parking on South Congress is deterring you from visiting, fear not, because the restaurant validates up to 3 hours of valet!

{Central Standard official website}

TAGS : South Congress , Central Standard