Central Cafe (Gungahlin) – first impressions

Jonathon Reynolds 12 August 2008 60

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.

What's Your Opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
60 Responses to Central Cafe (Gungahlin) – first impressions
H1NG0 H1NG0 9:44 pm 22 Nov 09

I have been to this place twice and both times was let down. Billy Baxters was one of the first places I had lunch at when I moved to Canberra and thought it was a decent Cafe. Unfortunately Central Cafe took over Billy Baxters and went for the bigger is better approach. Their menu is massive which makes it difficult to know what they are good at. In fact, the only place I know that can pull off a masive menu without disappointment is Cafe Injoy at Gold Creek.

I won’t mention what it was, but there was a problem with one of our orders the second time I went to Central Cafe. The staff were informed and offered to remake the food. I declined and they took the item off the bill and also offered complimentary coffee cake. The staff were fantastic in responding to this situation. I understand that mistakes happen, especially when the chefs have to deal with a menu that big. In my opinion, they should focus on making a few top notch meals with possibly the option of three different sized portions if that is what they are aiming for.

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 4:02 pm 22 Nov 09

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy said :

I just re-read this story and comments, and my comment of post# 24 still stands.

I agree 100%.

Tyx Tyx 6:57 pm 21 Nov 09

The only way in which Gungahlin has changed or suffered from the move appears to be in the Lemon Sauce…. which in my case was the #1 reason for the trek to Central (Lyneham to Gungahlin is much closer than to QBN tho it’s true). They’ll no longer make you a boat of lemon sauce to go with your Schnitzel or whatever else. Only way to get it is to order the Chicken Breast with Lemon Sauce…

This makes me a sad Panda, as I’m all about keeping it simple with Schnitzels, but can get better ones for less elsewhere, albeit without the Lemon Sauce.

Let me know if they change their stance on the lemon sauce policy, and I’ll be there in a jiffy 😀

Otherwise, hat off and thumbs up to Central Cafe Gungahlin =D

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy 1:55 pm 02 May 09

I just re-read this story and comments, and my comment of post# 24 still stands.

xyro xyro 12:10 pm 02 May 09

Duke said :

I used to eat at Central in Queanbeyan but like many others ended the dinner bloated and watching most of the meal end up in the bin.

Check out the size of some of the whales eating at that place if you want to know where the Gungahlin waistline is headed.

Now if I go I order the kids meals – not that any kid could possibly finish one.

my boys aged 6 8 10 always finish their meals!!

rosie_bubz rosie_bubz 9:11 pm 01 Sep 08

Diva said :

I know the owners of QBN Central Cafe well and for the record QBN is not affiliated with Gungahlin whatsoever.

The previous owners have opened the Gungahlin cafe profiting off QBN’s good name and reputation.

the previous owners of qbn central cafe who now own gunghalin central built the reputation of the qbn store over many years, so how can you say they are profiting off qbn’s good name when they made that name.??

Geoff_ACT said :

The service at Queanbeyan has improved substantially, quick to order, people are friendlier and the food quality is much better.

Would have to agree with you there

Danman Danman 5:52 pm 25 Aug 08

With a username like Fine Food Lover it baffles me as to what you expected at Central cafe?

I mean its great food but its not fine food – its slap together grub – hearty food and decent size meals…

And as for permanent visitor – if your experience was not one that was unique then time will tell.

peterh peterh 5:18 pm 25 Aug 08

Julius Constantius said :

la mente torbida said :

One visit, stopped me eating meat for months

Grow a pair – too much meat is not enough!

never heard of someone overdosing on meat….

peterh peterh 5:14 pm 25 Aug 08

Mr Evil said :

Doctor Evil said :

Does it come with a discount coupon for a triple bypass?

Just checking, will probably go anyway……..

Would you like free liposuction with your order?

well, they have to get the cooking oil from somewhere…

Permanent Visitor Permanent Visitor 5:13 pm 25 Aug 08

Ordered the open grill salmon sandwich and a banana thickshake… the salmon tasted like it had just been defrosted… the cheese tasted like it was straight out of a squeeze bottle, and the chips were cold. The thickshake was extremely rich, with no real bananas in site (I should have asked first!). So, the food was generally very ordinary, not made any better by the service – slow, and kept taking our meals to the wrong table. I was actually a fan of Billy Baxter’s breakfast (which was available all day, unlike Central)and as such, am disappointed by its replacement. Back to The Coffee Club!

Julius Constantius Julius Constantius 4:47 pm 25 Aug 08

la mente torbida said :

One visit, stopped me eating meat for months

Grow a pair – too much meat is not enough!

G-Fresh G-Fresh 4:40 pm 25 Aug 08

ant said :

The big thrill with a Kieve is cutting into it and having the butter go SPLURK.

The sounds of good health.

ant ant 4:37 pm 25 Aug 08

chicken kiev is one of those old staples that’s dying out. Trouble is, you really have to have it at a commercial place, unless you have a deep fryer at home. I’ve tried to do them in the oven and it’s hopeless, all the good stuff leaks out. The big thrill with a Kieve is cutting into it and having the butter go SPLURK.

fine food lover fine food lover 3:41 pm 25 Aug 08

Went there myself over the weekend, was not thatimpressed, way too expensive for a cafe and the teeny bopper waitresses just drove us nuts, one with dark brown hair was more interested in fixing her hair and makeup than giving us our proper service. Did enjoy the Coffee though,

Aurelius Aurelius 9:20 am 22 Aug 08

Tried it out last night. They were a little under-staffed, but not badly so. Food was okay to good – my Chicken Kiev was a little over-cooked, but otherwise everything was nice. My son declared it to be his new favourite restaurant.

ease up ease up 11:48 pm 21 Aug 08

Isn’t a reputation built by a person? Then you can’t really say that he’s being sneaky by relying on his own reputation can you??? The new Qbn owners had plenty of opportunity to build on a reputation that they tried to purchase but were obviously unable to maintain. I have never in the last 20 years seen seen the Qbn central so quiet especially during the snow season?? and this was well before the Gungahlin cafe opened – surely it can’t have all gone down hill in a week?? Sounds like sour grapes to me. Good luck to the guys in Gungahlin I’m sure their hard work will pay off!

Special G Special G 7:40 pm 20 Aug 08

Saw the article in the chronicle toady. Kind of sneaky. He would have had the plan to open the new one while riding the name he had helped create in Queanbeyan. Then signed the no restaurant within 5km clause knowing he was going to be well outside that in Gungahlin,

Danman Danman 5:58 pm 20 Aug 08

Proud to say that I ordered the king size kiev about a week ago – for 20 bucks.

Tied me over for 2 dinners….. 2x kievs a mountain of chips – cheezy cauliflower and potato bake…

Good thing I ride to work return trip 30km 3 times a week….
I saw the JR thing in the chronicle too – hence my posting here

Top darts to RA

OzChick OzChick 9:22 am 20 Aug 08

I read the article on the front page of The Chronicle about the Central Cafes. Jonathon’s review on here was quoted.

Good work!

Granny Granny 3:40 am 20 Aug 08


: )

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter


Search across the site