After closing for about a week, Eric and Sophie Banh’s upscale Vietnamese steakhouse Seven Beef (1305 E Jefferson St.) has transformed into Central Smoke, melding Asian flavors with slow-cooked meats and Southern dishes in the Central District.
Seven Beef, a sibling to Ba Bar and Monsoon, opened in October 2015. It focused on high-quality cuts of grass-fed, dry-aged Washington steak and a modern interpretation of bò 7 món, a traditional seven-course Vietnamese beef dinner. The restaurant announced the switch to Central Smoke in April.
At Central Smoke, Brimmer and Heeltap chef Mike Whisenhunt oversees a menu that leans heavily on a new custom-built smoker: smoked oysters with kimchi, pork-and-squid sausage with barbecue sauce, and green papaya salad with tea-smoked chicken live alongside bavette steak with creamed corn, collard greens with bacon, and cornbread with honey creme fraiche. Friday and Saturday only, there’s a limited supply of 20-hour smoked brisket. (The website suggests new dishes are being added daily or sometimes hourly.)
Whisenhunt is a particularly good fit for the new approach; his cooking style is strongly influenced by stints at freewheeling Korean gems Joule and Revel. At Ballard’s Brimmer and Heeltap, he earned widespread acclaim for his creative riffs on Asian and Northwest dishes. Whisenhunt now has a custom-built smoker on hand, a new addition brought in for the redo.
The cocktail menu has been made over, too, courtesy of Brandon Addicks, who comes to Central Smoke from Bathtub Gin in New York and Bowen House in Dallas. Addicks has partnered with the Banh’s beverage director, Jon Christiansen, on a selection of cocktails that, no surprise, incorporate smoke.
Central Smoke features a slightly more casual interior that ditches Seven Beef’s tablecloths and adds a colorful art installation. The restaurant’s large patio, one of its major selling points, remains.
Central Smoke is open Monday to Thursday 4 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4 to 11 p.m.
- Vietnamese Steakhouse Seven Beef Is Becoming Central Smoke [ESEA]
- Smoked Meats Take Center Stage at Seven Beef’s Upcoming Replacement [ESEA]
- Look Inside Seven Beef, Opening Today at 5 p.m. [ESEA]
- Central Smoke [Official]
- Central Smoke [Facebook]
- All Coverage of Central Smoke [ESEA]
- All Seven Beef Coverage [ESEA]