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You may never go to Montgomery. But maybe, like me, you will be living in a hotel for a month while in trial. Or maybe you will go on a civil rights history tour.

If you go, you should try a new restaurant that opened just a couple of weeks ago, downtown, called Central. If it stays as good as it was when I stumbled onto it last night, you will be hearing about it in your food magazines, etc., in the future. It was absolutely fantastic, sophisticated but moderately priced, southern (particularly, Alabama) food. I sat at the bar, with very friendly and knowledgeable bartender, and gorged myself on small plates. Good bread, baked right there. Incredible pimiento cheese (spicy). Locally-grown vegetables, pickled on premises. Shrimp and hominy - not shrimp and grits, which have become cliche, but hominy, with a little bit of sausage and (again removing it from the trite) avocado and radish. They source everything locally, apparently except for the duck because there's no good ducks in central Alabama. And it is absurdly inexpensive for what it is, in a beautiful room with friendly and attentive staff.

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So I went to Central this week and didn't come away with quite the same glow as Sheldman above.

The place is neat - warehouse setting with a very high ceiling and lots of red brick yet with a modern feel. The staff was nice and attentive. I was there for a weekday lunch, kind of early (11am) and it was cold and dreary out.

I was willing to sit at the bar ("I don't have a reservation, is it ok if I sit at the bar?") but sat in a booth. That's fine - I don't care, but the overall speed was indicative that maybe they wanted the booth for a larger group, not just me. The appetizer (flatbread with black bean hummous) was dry and kind of bland - maybe really more of a bean dip - I didn't really taste much of the cumin or lemon I'd expect in a hummous. This came out right after I ordered it, no longer than it could have taken the waitress to walk back and pick it up - like it was made and sitting there. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate fast service, especially on a workday lunch - this just had the feel that it was already plated. The flatbread was really nice - very thin and very crispy.

Then came "A1A" fish tacos, served while most of my appetizer was still in front of me. They were made with blackened catfish and very tasty, but maybe lacking in much of the catfish. Tacos are odd that way - hard to eat if stuffed but a little disappointing if sparsely filled.

I'd go back unless someone else has better suggestions - the grey day, having only my iPhone for my +1 - those don't make for ideal dining and so maybe I'm not being fair. And I sense Montgomery may not have many competitive options. If I needed a bail bond, it seems they have lots of those...but maybe not nicer restaurants. I'm glad to be home.

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