Amy Brandwein’s COVID Menu Moves at Centrolina

By Kendyl Kearly


Kendyl Kearly
Veal Sirloin, Roasted Chanterelle Mushrooms, Charred Onion, Mustard Cream, Veal Jus
Veal Sirloin, Roasted Chanterelle Mushrooms, Charred Onion, Mustard Cream, Veal Jus

Chef Amy Brandwein doesn’t run away from a hurdle. As COVID-19 rails against the industry, she successfully fights to keep Centrolina restaurant open in Washington, D.C.; sales are even slowly reaching their usual levels, despite a reduced schedule. She’s been enjoying the time off as a way to finally relax and spend more time with her family.


“I have a great management team,” the executive chef says. “I wasn’t sure what to expect during all the stages of this. It’s taken a lot of our team to continue to lead the restaurant and pull through this. I’ve seen an enormous strength in them and resolve and commitment to the company to make sure we see the other side of this.”

Brandwein has had the chance to develop dinner specials and tasting menus. Centrolina has always had a market where Washingtonians can purchase things like pizza dough and a bottle of Tattinger brut, and the team put the shopping experience online with successful results.

“One of the fortunate aspects is we’ve had time to do things that are on our agenda,” Brandwein says. 

One of the things she had time to experiment with was European veal sirloin, which isn’t her typical cut of choice. “This COVID period has been a great time to try things that you might not otherwise do,” she says. “That’s why I picked it. I like to challenge myself.” 

For a special on her menu planned for two weeks, she added roasted chanterelle mushrooms, charred onion, mustard cream, and veal jus. She cooked the protein sous vide and sliced it thinly. A mustard sauce seemed like a nice way to incorporate that creaminess that works so well with veal. Centrolina diners loved the dish so much that Brandwein kept it on her menu for an additional two weeks.

As the executive chef of an Italian restaurant, Brandwein says she frequently uses veal, cooking it in wine and chicken broth or as part of a fan-favorite white bolognese pasta. For the sirloin dish, she used Trusted Veal from Europe, which only feeds its calves whey and skimmed milk to utilize three byproducts of the dairy industry, including the male calves. (The European Union has even introduced legislation to restrict the use of the term “veal” to milk-fed animals as a way to protect the Italian staple.)

“You want to make sure that the animals are raised in a humane way, that they’re treated well,” Brandwein says. “I think that’s the first key to everything. Are you dealing with a huge commodity product or are you working with a source where you know what’s going into it?”



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