Le Central, Golden Triangle, Denver 2009Le Central
112 East 8th Avenue
Golden Triangle, Denver
Bus directions: take the 0 from 17th and Market

On my way from the Native American Trading Company to Le Central for lunch, I passed the Diamond Shamrock where Todd and I used to fill up our Honda Civic GX, a natural gas vehicle. I much preferred driving that smaller car to driving our bounce-along Dodge Dakota (now sorely in need of a paint job we don’t feel like paying for), but neither of us preferred having to drive the Honda 10 miles to Boulder or Denver to find a natural gas pump. When we bought the Honda, we could drive it from Denver to Glenwood Springs, but the stations along the way closed over the years, and so it became more and more inconvenient. It’s too bad, because it was nice to drive a car that had no emissions, though every time I drove among the Western Slope natural gas wells I felt guilty about the problems gas wells caused the homeowners (gas in their water supplies, for example).

That was a rather long segue into what should probably be a Restoration Nation post. But instead this is a restorative lunch post.

Todd and I have been to Le Central before, including for my fortieth birthday dinner. (I still have the menu; they change it every day.) But today was the first time I’d ever eaten there alone.

And I got the dreaded table for a single diner by the kitchen! OK, there’s an entire room by the kitchen, which is perfectly pleasant, but I was in a two-top right by the door. I immediately suspected something was up.

At least it was an exciting place to sit: waiters kept whizzing by with their arms full of plates. Getting up to go to the bathroom required the utmost care on my part to avoid sending one careening into other tables.

I even saw one waiter bearing a full tray catch his foot in a purse carelessly set down across the aisle. Amazingly enough, he managed not to fall, and the woman pulled her purse strap off his foot.

All this activity made me hungry, and I promptly ate all the bread, despite the fact that their pretty little butter pats were ice-cold. And blindingly white. But good.

I made friends with my waitress by admiring her necklace, which she said she’d bought in Pasadena, and I replied that my sister lived in Glendale, just down the road in California terms.

When I asked her whether I should get the salmon salad or the duck salad (Salade de Magret de Canard), she jumped up and down at the thought of my ordering the duck. And when she brought it to me, she announced, “The best salad EVER!”Le Central Salade de Magret de Canard, Denver 2009

Actually, I’m not sure what the best salad ever would be. I think of salad as a utilitarian dish, one that I eat when I’m tired of meat or I’m trying to maintain my weight or I need a certain quota of vegetables. There are weeks or even months when I have a large salad every day. Occasionally, they’re very good—ever had a really wonderful Caesar or a salad with just the right combination of fruit and nuts and a not-too-tart vinaigrette?

When she said that, though, it raised my standards. And although the salad was good, I couldn’t get quite as excited about it as she did. The “smoked salt-cured duck” slices were just right and nice with the apple and candied walnut, the blue cheese and cranberry went well together, and I was even able to get a bite of everything on my fork one time. Just to say I did.

The salad was the perfect size, especially after eating all that bread. The only thing I wondered about was the slice of tomato on top. Is that French?
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Leave A Comment

  1. Denveater February 26, 2009 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    A Caesar’s one of my litmus tests for restaurants. It’s just one of those things that IMO had better be done right—eggs, anchovies, good croutons, good parmesan—or not at all.

    As for the best salad ever—my fave cookbook in the world, believe it or not, is Lettuce in Your Kitchen, Chris Schlesinger & John Willoughby. Chock-full of revelations in a bowl.

    Denveater’s last blog post..Root Downer

  2. Beth February 26, 2009 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    I’ll have to check that book out sometime. If I’m going to eat all these salads, I might as well have some variety.

    Lately I’ve been making some “crunchy” salads, by which I mean salads with very little lettuce and lots of things like nuts and carrots and beans.

    Todd and I had a good Caesar at Oceanaire’s the other night. Not sure it was the best in Denver, as they claim, but it was good.

    Beth’s last blog post..Le Central: Denver’s Affordable French Restaurant

  3. BernardL February 26, 2009 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    I detest being seated by the kitchen. I’ve never heard of a duck salad.

    BernardL’s last blog post..Bambi

  4. Beth Partin February 27, 2009 at 9:25 am - Reply

    There are seats by the kitchen, and then there are seats by the kitchen. Mine at Le Central was one of the latter.

    It was just a salad with smoked duck instead of grilled chicken. Nothing too crazy about it.

    Beth Partin’s last blog post..Crazy About Denver: Goodbye, Rocky