My first introduction to the original Central Cafe in Queanbeyan was many years ago where I was left awestruck by their “Coca-Cola” inspired logo, the red velour wallpaper, team photos of the then Woodgers Raiders adorning the walls and of course the legendary “Mixed Grill“.
Since those early days the Central Cafe in Queanbeyan has expanded, had substantial renovations and a decor face lift. Sadly the unique “furry” (velour) walls are gone, but it still represents excellent value for money when you are seeking that mammoth proportion “intake of sustenance“.
The burning question was could the new Central Cafe in Gungahlin live up to the legend of the original cafe?
Well, for brunch on Saturday a group of three of us headed down the Gungahlin Town Centre to check out the new Central Cafe on the corner of Gungahlin Place and Hibberson Street (where Billy Baxters used to be).
The obvious choice for me was to benchmark the new Gungahlin cafe against the original by ordering the “King Size” Mixed Grill (see photo above).
I am pleased to report that the mixed grill is everything that one would expect from a classic “Central Cafe” mixed grill. A huge platter absolutely blanketed in sausages, bacon (a rasher and several short cuts), a generous sized pork chop, 1/2 a ham steak, several large cuts of steak, two pieces of liver and a large “homemade style” burger patty. I think one of the steaks may have been a piece of lamb steak as I distinctly remember it hiding under several layers of other meats toward the bottom of the plate. The dish was garnished with a good smattering of crispy thick cut fries and a wedge of lemon. The gravy was served in a separate gravy boat to the side (as I prefer to control my own application of gravy, versus the usual serving practice of having the meal swimming in it). There was also a generous mixed side salad, lightly dressed and garnished with the ubiquitous slice of orange. Everything tasted great and for $24.90 with the obscene amount of food involved, represents incredible value.
My colleagues ordered Beer Battered Fish Fillets with Chips (two huge fillets) on a bed of thick cut fries with a side of tartare sauce, lemon wedge and a side of mixed salad for $18.90 and a Toasted Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwich (again generously filled) and served with the obligatory thick cut fries for $12.90. Both my colleagues enjoyed their food and found the serving size more than generous to the extent of being too much.
We had a giggle as on the menu Milk Shakes and Thick Shakes are described as “all the usual flavours“. We had the immediate vision of a chocolate-strawberry-vanilla-caramel-banana-lime-malted-minty mixed concoction. But with one of our party actually ordering a shake it came served in a huge glass and was thankfully just the single flavour desired.
The interior decor and shopfitting are obviously a reworking of the previous Billy Baxters cafe. It is clean, bright, with timber floor finishes, comfortable seating with a combination of free standing tables and booths. The predominate accent colour is a bright almost pinkish-purple. The font style used for the new “Central Cafe” logo had us somewhat perplexed as it appears to be Tolkien inspired… reminding us somewhat of an Elven/Elvish font, though it was suggested it may also have been Klingon.
I understand that the Gungahlin Central Cafe is actually owned by the proprietors of the original Queanbeyan cafe (which was sold to new owners last year). The staff were very attentive and friendly and I recognized some of the faces from the previous Billy Baxters staff… so its good to see that when that when the previous Billy Baxters cafe closed, employees were able to transition to the new cafe.
Based on our initial experience, this is a welcome addition to the Gungahlin Town Centre (and much closer than having to travel all the way to Queanbeyan). Like the original Central Cafe, this new establishment has the potential to be a local tourist attraction.
Definitely a place to visit if you are desperately ravenous and in need for a value-for-money gastronomically indulgent eating orgy.