Foraged Feast

Central's meaty mushroom sandwich

There are plenty of great vegetarian sandwiches out there, but Central's strapping mushroom sandwich puts the meatiest of subs to shame.

With the texture and richness of a patty melt, Central's new grilled mushroom and cheese ($15) is not a big sandwich. Nonetheless, its quartered wedges are deceptively dense.

Chef Michel Richard conceived of the sandwich as a vegetarian answer to France's croque monsieur. For smoothness and bite, Central's executive chef Arthur Cavaliere creates a duxelles of chopped cremini and shiitake mushrooms roasted with Vidalia onions and garlic. To create patty-like slices, he packs the mushroom blend into a terrine pan and bakes it.

Cavaliere layers the duxelles with Gruyère cheese on house-made, buttered Pullman bread, then press-grills the sandwich and cuts it into four wedges. The order arrives on a cheese board with a heap of crisp fries and a peppery, four-cheese béchamel, for dipping.

Attention, Central burger loyalists: the mushroom sandwich has arrived.

Central Michel Richard, 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (at 11th St.); 202-626-0015 or centralmichelrichard.com