Naughty is nice at Central 214

I mean, "If in some smothering dreams you too could pace/Behind the wagon that we flung him in/And watch the white eyes writhing in his face/His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin/If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood...'" C'mon. Dickinson just wrote pleasant stuff about yard snakes and carriage rides with hooded scythemen.

Speaking of devils, Beck stoops to offer deviled eggs on an upscale restaurant menu. I'm not sure why more restaurants don't do this because this family reunion highlight can be made well in advance and trotted out to guests without frantic, last second boiling, chopping and food processing. These she spikes with bits of shrimp, but the results can be disappointing as the filling often comes out dry and crumbly. Bread service arrives with a trio of options, including the aforementioned pimento cheese and a pile of smoked trout, shredded, salty and also sometimes far too dry.

Salt invades the grilled duck breast—yes, grilled—as well. My first few bites reeked of salt embedded into the fatty layer of skin, although the final three pieces showed a nice balance of flavors, meaning the line cook responsible dumped most of that oversized pinch of salt on the front half. At least the meat is tender, if rather mild in flavor.

The naughty chef
gets down and dirty in
Central 214’s prep area.
Sara Kerens
The naughty chef gets down and dirty in Central 214’s prep area.

Location Info

Map

Central 214

5680 N. Central Expressway
Dallas, TX 75206

Category: Restaurant > New American

Region: East Dallas & Lakewood

Details

Central 214 Corn and crab bisque $8 Shrimp deviled eggs $10.50 Chicken-fried oysters $14 Spicy fried lobster $18 Grilled duck breast $24 Chicken-fried Kobe steak $28

Web extra:More photos of Central 214, chef Blythe Beck, and the restaurant's offerings in our slideshow.

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Perhaps the one near flawless dish I tried during my visits was a soup. Pureed until silky smooth, the crab corn bisque is rich (guess why) and flush with the essence of fresh corn. Although sparsely arranged, pieces of crab meat fold into this sweet, fat and starchy presentation rather nicely. It's also one of the chef's few nods to upscale dining on an impish menu.

As Beck explains, the restaurant is built around familiar foods—"but I make it naughty," she adds.

Nothing wrong going against the grain, so long as it works. But chicken-fried this, naughty that, chicken-fried here, naughty there—isn't it all a bit much? No chance, the chef says.

"People can mock me, but that's who I am."

Central 214 5680 N. Central Expressway, 214-443-9339. Open 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., 5-10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., 5-10:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 5-10:30 p.m. Saturday, 5-10 p.m. Sunday. Brunch 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday- Sunday. $$$
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