Central Oven & Shaker has already featured on the Canny Food blog when it first opened opposite Central Station in the Toon. One of our contributors went along on its opening night to try out the pizzas and cocktails on offer and gave it a big thumbs up, although I’m always personally wary of launch parties and special invite events for gauging an eatery. Knowing that lots of bloggers or journos are in a room can make an establishment roll out the red carpet for great publicity, and you can only hope the general public are afforded the same sort of treatment as paying punters once they are have officially opened their doors. You can read about it here.
The feedback I’d seen on social media had all been positive, however, which was encouragement enough for me to try out Central Oven for myself. When I asked about vegan-friendly options on Twitter and was told they had dairy free cheese we made a point of visiting for an alternative family Sunday lunch. I was actually surprised more was not made of this fact, to be perfectly honest. With so many folk with dairy allergies, never mind the growing awareness about how beneficial cutting down on dairy can be, this could be a big selling point for the eatery. That said, having written a post about how many places in Newcastle do accommodate with dairy free cheeses (which you can read here) I was surprised we have so much choice.
I was taken aback by how quiet Central Oven was on this particular day, with only ourselves and a couple of stag and hen parties recovering from the night before. The service was affable and knowledgeable on the menu options, including what the vegans could have. Asking what dairy free cheese was used, our waiter came back with a packet of Bute Island Cheese to show us.
The Teen ordered a Montanara (£9), which featured a fried base and was topped with a sweet San Marzano tomato sauce and plenty of dairy cheese. The wonders of being a teenage boy also meant he has space for dessert too, and polished off a slice of their Cheesecake (£6).
With two options that are suitable to be veganised – the Four Shroom and Roasted Veg options – myself and Mr. Canny went for one of each. I feel symbols on the menu will help vegetarians and vegans alike discover what is or isn’t suitable without asking 20 questions. The same was the case when it came to him ordering a beer, but that is a common bugbear for us in most of the places we visit.
The wood firing of the base gives it that unique taste and the pizzas were knocked up in super quick time. I was actually surprised how much I liked the vegan cheese, especially as I’ve been actively trying to avoid dairy substitutes like this of late. At £9.50 a piece they weren’t exactly cheap, but we felt they offered reasonable value for money.
Having watched so many Newcastle-based vegans sing the praises of Zizzi I can only hope they give Central a try. This is far superior to what the chain can serve up, and I only wish they would make more of the fact they have this alternative available. Desserts may be the standard sorbet, but I didn’t care much for a pud after my main anyway. With a range of offers, including 2 for 1 on cocktails at selected times, Central Oven and Shaker is a welcome addition to the Central Station area of the Toon.
Thanks for reading,
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