HOPKINTON – Corned beef reubens stacked to the ceiling, meat and potatoes that blow all the others away, a trio of tacos that are sure to please the taste buds, and a chef who loves to play with fire. Next time you have a hankering for some seriously solid eats, take your hunger to the house: Central Public House.

Situated in downtown Hopkinton, Central Public House is what happens when a city chef decides to take all of his culinary know-how to the suburbs.

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Chef/Owner Dennis Wilson is a longtime industry veteran who has had a passion for cooking since the young age of 16. He spent years training under some of the best chefs around, and for his first solo attempt he wanted to create an ever-changing menu that offered a little something for everyone – whether you were grabbing a quick bite at lunch, enjoying a leisurely brunch, or out for a night out on the town.

“We keep things fresh, so when you come in there’s always something new on the menu. It’s American. We have French influences, Italian influences, Asian influences, Eastern European influences. Every couple weeks we’ll introduce some stuff and take some other stuff off. It allows me to keep things fresh.”

The atmosphere is just as diverse, with seating options including a dining room decked out in reclaimed woods and plant installations throughout, to a busy bar where craft cocktails and suds are served.

“We wanted to keep it warm,” Dennis said. “That’s why we introduced a lot of the live walls, the plant life, the reclaimed wood. We did the polished concrete floors – keep it nice and industrial almost. I think people walk in here, they’re comfortable.”

Phantom decided to grab a seat and get comfortable in search of The Perfect Meal.

The appetizers at Central Public House are so tongue tantalizing, you may not want to share. There are crispy Fish Tacos sporting fresh cod topped with a flavor-packed papaya salsa, taro root chips, and a creamy avocado puree, and a light and lovely Asian style Tuna Crudo.

Tuna Crudo at Central Public House (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“We actually dress the tuna in a wasabi aioli and that’s served on top of a watermelon radish salad, and then topped with a wacami salad on top of that,” Dennis described. “Those are really strong flavors. You get the soy, you get the wasabi, some taro root chips for scooping.”

The mussels are a must have. Served in a red curry broth, these beautiful bivalves come with plenty of pita for sopping up all of that broth.

“A lot of extra pita chips are going out with that dish because you’re just scooping it up,” Dennis said.

Red Curry Mussels at Central Public House (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

Sandwiches are a staple of the lunchtime menu, with a jaw dropping Corned Beef Reuben piled up with sauerkraut, Swiss, and the perfect amount of Russian dressing. Then there is a Crispy Chicken Sandwich stacked with crispy onions, housemade pickles, lettuce, tomato and slaw with a yummy garlic aioli.

“You’re getting some sweet and sour from the cole slaw, getting that crunch from the chicken. You’re getting the sour from the house made pickles, strong garlic from the lemon aioli,” explained Dennis. “It’s a lot of different flavors mashed together but it works very well.”

Crispy Chicken Sandwich at Central Public House (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

A restaurant is only as good as their burger, and at Central Public House, it’s a crowd favorite at both lunch and dinner.

“Our burger’s our number one selling thing. It’s a eight ounce burger, cooked to order, a special sauce which we make here, lettuce, tomato, and a sesame seed bun,” listed Dennis. “Number one seller, always will be.”

The entree selection at Central Public House has something for everyone. You can opt for the Chicken Ballotine stuffed with toasted chestnuts and figs and served over haricot verts and English peas; the oversized braised Veal Osso Bucco with a gorgonzola potato cake and seasonal greens; or the Pan Roasted Monkfish with baby bok choy in a wild mushroom and red wine ragout.

Grilled Sirloin at Central Public House (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

But the entree to order has to be the Grilled Sirloin. This delicious stack layers pureed potatoes with that perfectly cooked cut of beef and tops it all off with an indulgent bone marrow crostini.

“People are particular about their steak,” Dennis noted. “It’s served with a little red wine veal demi-glace, simple whipped Yukon potatoes, some sautéed shaved Brussels sprouts, chopped Applewood smoked bacon. Served with a brioche crostini with roasted marrow butter. It’s really something good.”

If you happen by during their weekend brunch, you can feast on Huevos Rancheros served in a cast iron skillet, or dessert for breakfast in the form of Bananas Foster French Toast that’s too filling to finish.

Bananas Foster French Toast at Central Public House (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

Red Curry Mussels. A Burger. A Grilled Sirloin Steak, and French Toast make for the Perfect Meal at Central Public House.

You can find the restaurant at 42 Main Street in Hopkinton and online at centralpublichouse.com.

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.

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