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1/2 Sometimes I’m hesitant to try upscale takes on humbler dishes. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve never been to Chinatown Brasserie, despite Joe Ng’s dim sum pedigree. But my recent meal at Devi succeeded in elevating Indian food so I should be more open minded. Centrico falls somewhere in that spectrum. I’d been once before, but only to sample a michelada at the bar. This time I tried a lightly spiced, vegetal jala-piña. As both Thai and Mexican street snacks prove, tropical fruit, lime juice and chiles partner well.

Centrico_camarones_y_pozoleDespite being tempted, I didn’t try the tacos. Not because of their double digit prices, I was just swayed by a more inventive sounding starter, the camarones y pozole. The form the hominy came in was unexpected, ground and pressed into a cake, perfectly browned and crisped on the outside with steaming soft corn mush on the inside like polenta. A mound of creamy guajillo-spiked shrimp toppled over this pozole base.

Centrico_birriaI hate to admit that even in my extremely limited birria tasting experience, I prefer the thin consommé studded with shredded goat approach. Centrico birria-ized short ribs in a thick, rich, ancho broth and included trimmed baby carrots and possibly a turnip. If I had been presented this hearty braise simply as short ribs, I would’ve enjoyed them on their own merit. They’re two different animals, literally. Of course, the hand made, little grilled tortillas and lime drenched chopped onions were a fitting touch. Interestingly, one of the first web hits for birria is an Aaron Sanchez (Centrico's chef) recipe from Melting Pot, one of those old Food Network shows where people actually cooked things you'd want to eat.

I’m in Tribeca just about never but I wouldn’t be opposed to another Centrico meal if I were in the neighborhood.

Centrico * 211 W. Broadway, New York, NY

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