Situated, some might say snuggly, just underneath a railway bridge, The Central Bar Gateshead, helmed by the guys and gals at the burgeoning Head Of Steam, is a sight for sore eyes. Just a quick walk from the Sage and the Quayside, and repurposing the abandoned building that it is situated in, Central Bar could be your new home from home; if you don’t mind washing in a sink and never having a bed.
The Central Bar takes up three floors; function rooms at the top, as well as a terrace for when the weather isn’t totally shit. The homely and back to basics set up has enough additional tricks and treats that you’d find in more established, ‘fakey’ bars like wooden clipboards with menus on, flavoured mayonnaises and free copies of Vice to digest, which keep the business up to date, vibrant and interesting. The food itself, basic standards of any restaurant (burgers, vegetarian selections, nibbles and Sunday lunches) are pushed to the extremes of what people might order. Of course there’s the inclusion of the standard salted beef burger, but there’s more than that. There are flavours from around the globe to help make your life that little bit harder.
Personally, we stuck with the basic Central Burger (a steal really at only £6.50), to see how competent the chef was with the very basics, and to be honest with you all, because that’s how we roll, we weren’t expecting much. Maybe a bit of garnish on the side that we would ultimately leave because no one actually eats garnish. But instead of the most vanilla of all the burger orders available, what arrived at our table was quite the pleasant surprise…
A sizeable chunk of beef brought our sizeable chunk of beef to the table with a smile. Instead of just a medium cut of beef we were given a thick and cooked perfectly patty between a sesame seeded bun. As a slight aside to this restaurant, can we just take one moment to discuss what was actually wrong with the sesame seed bun in the first place? It’s been replaced by fancied, more gourmet versions like the brioche bun, but not for any particular reason. Unless there is a sesame seed crisis that I haven’t been told about, that is. Soft, bouncy, with so many seeds on, sesame seed buns are the hallmark of where burgers have come from. They’re burger versions of Superman. You know that we’ve got Iron Man and Captain America, but we wouldn’t have those without Superman. So, basically, sesame seed buns are Superman.
Instead of just slamming some lettuce and cheese in the bun, there was hods of lettuce, an amount of cheese that would make a lactose intolerant mentally picture where the nearest bathroom was, slices of smoked bacon that, although we would’ve usually preferred singed and crispy, was cooked brilliantly. Instead of us thinking “oh, that fat there looks like it’d be chewy” we just shovelled it into our gobs, and we were was glad we did. The salty, smokey bacon added something special. And, admittedly, having it slightly blackened around the edges would’ve ruined it. And then, AND THEN, poured onto everything else was black pepper mayonnaise.
We’re not a huge fan of mayonnaise, except with a chicken kebab, and that’s only garlic mayonnaise. But this mayonnaise was amazing. If we weren’t in a public place, and had we been in a darkened room, lit by candle light with 10cc playing on the radio, we could’ve made sweet, sweet love to this mayonnaise. Every single person who asked us about what we did on Thursday night has had the full tirade of how totally mind blowing this mayonnaise, and as a result, the entire burger is. It’s more than just your standard burger, it’s a life affirming meal. If Jesus had laid on these burgers during the Last Supper, Judas would have been too busy texting people and cramming hand cut chips into his mouth to think about doing all that Pontius Pilate stuff. It’s genuinely that good.
Sadly, and we know it shouldn’t be this way, but a restaurant/pub isn’t just judged on it’s food, the appearance of the place has to be taken into account, and this is where Central Bar sort of let itself down.
Although the place looked like it had drawn from the authentic past of the building, and that’s one of the first things that you learn about when you research Central Bar, it still looked sort of dilapidated. Radiators were chipped and the floor was whatever the wood equivalent of threadbare is. Which is great, if it wasn’t for every other restaurant/pub that wants to attract a young crowd doing exactly the same thing. Fair enough, you might think that Nandos is populist nonsense, and McDonalds are capitalist devils that Russell Brand would probably take massive umbrage with, but as more and more places strive to look as industrial and ramshackle as possible to outdo their competitors, it’s harder and harder to stay ahead. Luckily for Central Bar, the food is beyond amazing, because otherwise they wouldn’t have much going for them.
They also have a gargantuan array of beers available, so if your thing is meat and beer, then Central Bar has got you covered. Hoisted from the Wylam Brewery, as well as other locally sourced brewers, there is a type of beer to satiate every wheaty desire. Even some surprises that you would never have thought of. Pricing wise; what you would expect, so no major shocks there. Even the vodka and lemonade that we ordered seemed to be remarkably cheap (we may have ordered a double without realising it, but that’s by the by).
So, in conclusion, give Central Bar a try and we promise you won’t be disappointed. Plus, you might get to sit in the snug, which is what The Rovers Return used to have in the 60s and 70s, which is a great bit of pop culture history isn’t it?
The Central Bar, Half Moon Lane, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, NE8 2AN. You can also check out their website right here.