With the many unique dining experiences found in downtown Bangor, it can be hard for a restaurant to stand out. Boasting an ambience both trendy and intimate, with a simple yet well-crafted menu, 11 Central succeeds in being one of the few restaurants to stand out.
After entering the restaurant through a large black curtain, you’re treated to an array of local artists’ scenic paintings plastered along the brick walls. Candles illuminate each table, making this a great place for a date night.
Making reservations at 11 Central is a good idea; there were no available tables at 7 p.m. on a Tuesday night. Luckily, the bar is a nice place to wait. For a place so packed, the atmosphere still felt intimate. The music is just audible, not so loud you can’t hear your dinner companions.
The bar is the main focus of the restaurant, and for good reason. The multitude of interesting drinks makes choosing just one difficult, but I’d have to recommend the “Chapel Hill Bouquet” ($11). With flavors of iris, hibiscus, citrus and elderflower, it’s a refreshing and floral (but not overwhelmingly so) treat.
The appetizers were large enough to share, but small enough not to ruin your appetite. The prosciutto and goat cheese crostini ($13) was well balanced with sweet strawberries leveling out the saltiness of the prosciutto and cheese.
The dinner menu features many simple meals made in part with local foods. The New York strip steak topped with barbecue bourbon sauce and a generous helping of portobello mushrooms ($29) was well seasoned and cooked to perfection. The side of Brussels sprouts, however, was a bland accompaniment. The Caesar salad served with the dinner was a nice touch — it was fresh and topped with house-made croutons. For the price however, the food is just slightly too simple. Ordered on its own, a Caesar salad will run you $9.
If you somehow manage to save room for dessert, you’ve got quite a few options. The flourless chocolate torte, served with both a merlot and berry reduction and a sweet cream sauce ($8), was a decadent way to end dinner. While it was a bit too rich for one person, it was the perfect size to split.
Overall, dinner was well-portioned, satisfying and enjoyable. I have to mention the service, though. The bartender was attentive, personable and talented. The server, however, did not apologize for a hair in the water, offering only a, “Did you want me to get you another glass?” It certainly wasn’t her fault, but it’s not something about which the waitstaff should be so nonchalant.
For the price, a college student may be better off treating themselves with a drink and an appetizer at 11 Central. For a special date or celebration though, it is worth the trip into Bangor.