Like middle school cafeterias, brasseries tend to offer fairly uniform menus, with steak frites mercifully replacing "unidentified meat dish" as the universal standby. Soon to cause a brasserie fracas: Central Kitchen, opening Monday.
Read CK's menu, and you'll find the standard brass formula, only augmented with a healthy dose of "What the hell?" For instance, while every restaurant ending in -eaux flaunts a grilled gourmet ham sandwich, CK serves one boasting suckling pig and 5-year aged provolone -- obeying the ancient proverb, Young Pig, Old Cheese. They also Spanish up their pasta section (Ravioli of Chorizo & Shrimp), and aren't afraid to turn a thin-crust pizza into a seafood medley (grilled octopus/shrimp/scallops, with gruyere to ensure a fresh coat of arterial fat). Finally, while steak frites is offered, there's also tuna steak frites, grilled hanger steak in Spanish olive oil, and, on Mondays, chicken fried steak -- i.e., a steak for every mood, unless you've got a chronic case of the "-ums".
Of course, setting can matter as much as food, and the best seats in the house face all-windowed wall facing out on 7th Ave -- so you can enjoy the spring weather even as your entrée inflames the sensibilities of New York's brasserie-purist homeless.