Additional details have emerged regarding the pending switcheroo for the Central District’s high-end Vietnamese steakhouse Seven Beef, set to transform into Central Smoke early this summer with help from acclaimed chef Mike Whisenhunt and a new smoker. Owners Eric and Sophie Banh (Monsoon, Ba Bar) will keep their wood-fired grill and steaks, but the menu is going to be more internationally inspired as Whisenhunt brings his experience blending Asian flavors with other cuisines from his time at Ballard’s Brimmer and Heeltap (which he left in January) and his past position at Korean gem Joule.
When Eater learned of the change earlier this week, few details were available beyond the new name. But a press release sent yesterday added more, noting that diners can expect steaks cooked on the wood-fired grill — a holdover from Seven Beef — plus smoked meats and seafood, “all held together by the common thread of smoke” thanks to a custom-built smoker on its way. Whisenhunt’s menu might include smoked brisket, tea-smoked duck, house-cured sausages, and “plenty of pickles,” for example. There may also be soy-fermented egg fried rice and Vietnamese smoked veal.
“I’ve been wanting to do something like this forever, and in hindsight, we probably should have gone for it when we opened Seven Beef — you live and learn,” Eric Banh said in the release. “The idea of mixing cultures and cooking styles has always appealed to me, and it finally feels like people are ready to embrace that concept again.”
The cocktail menu will get a makeover, too, courtesy of Brandon Addicks, who comes to Central Smoke from Bathtub Gin in New York and Bowen House in Dallas. Addicks is partnering with the Banh’s beverage director, Jon Christiansen, on a selection of cocktails that incorporate smoke among the ingredients.
To complement its casual shift, the space will be made over. The tablecloths will disappear and there will be some minor renovations, but the Banhs promise no lengthy closures. And, of course, the large patio will stay put.