Named after the various food markets which occupied the area in the early 19th century, Central Market is the new kid on the block in the heart of Glasgow’s Merchant City. It’s been a while since we’ve heard of any great burgers to be found in that particular area of the city; however, when Central Market was flagged up to us on Twitter, we made it our next stop for lunch in our ongoing quest for great burgers in Glasgow.
Bell street may not be the most attractive part of the city, but Central Market almost transports you to another world with it’s extremely bright, contemporary look and bustling atmosphere. The cafe occupies a small space, but utilizes it well. It’s set out across two levels and sports a large square bar area in the middle, with the open plan kitchen right behind it, allowing you watch the chefs at work as you relax with a drink. There’s floor to ceiling windows with tables looking out into the street and seats around the bar, meaning that despite the small space, you shouldn’t have to wait long when you visit. The whole place feels very fresh and would make a great venue for a couple of early evening of after-work cocktails by the bar, even if you weren’t planning on eating. The menu at Central Market is designed to match the look and feel of the cafe – it’s compact, modern and offers up a variety of dishes, yet still managing to retain a contemporary British feel.
We opted for the ‘Market Burger’, consisting of a 6oz patty, topped with bacon and gruyere on a lightly toasted brioche and served with fries. We also ordered a chargrilled chicken sandwich and it’s important to mention that for the purpose of this review; however, we’ll get to that.
Presentation-wise, I couldn’t fault this burger. The brioche was beautifully glazed, well toasted and housed the contents well. It was almost like everything was made and measured to fit inside the bun. The generous amounts of cheese and the gherkin on top finished the look perfectly. Many of our readers have told us that they always get rid of any gherkins found lurking in their burgers, but we love them so the first thing I did was add it to the burger before my first bite.
The patty itself was delicious. Lightly charred on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside. There were slight hints of pink throughout and the juice from the meat ran down our fingers with each bite. If I were to be asked, I’d always prefer a burger cooked medium, but the ever-so-slight hints of pink here warmed our burger-shaped hearts. I broke off part of the patty to try it on it’s own and it slid off my knife like butter. After trying another burger elsewhere recently that felt like trying to slice through a hockey puck, this was a refreshing experience! The gruyere, with it’s sharp and distinct flavour, packed a nice punch and the lightly sweetened bun was delicious. The bun held everything together well and didn’t fall apart at all – one of the many reasons that brioche, in our opinion, is the king of burger buns. My only criticism was that the bacon, while perfectly tasty, should have been a little crispier. This is my personal preference and it may have been cooked to perfection for many, but I would have preferred it to have been charred just that bit more.
I mentioned that we also ordered a chargrilled chicken sandwich and I mentioned that simply because it comes topped with bacon jam (yes, BACON JAM!) that the chefs at Central Market prepare from scratch in-house. When I took a bite of the sandwich, aside from ‘OH MY GOD!’, my first thought was ‘why is the bacon jam not on the burger?!’. The burger served here is delicioius, but I felt that adding the bacon jam would have simply set it apart from other burgers and really made Central Market stand out as one of the must-have burgers in the city. As we were leaving, I asked one of the staff members if it would be possible for customers to add the bacon jam to their burger, to which she replied ‘absolutely’. Unfortunately I was too late, but when I go back, I’ll be sure to ask for lots of it. The jam had a delicious, smokey flavour and simply just tasted like spreadable bacon. The chicken was served with lashings of it on top and it was good. Very good. It tasted so good that I almost wanted to ask if I could buy a jar to take home. Without a doubt, the chefs should make it a permanent addition to the burger.
Overall, our first experience at Central Market was great. The menu is small, but very intriguing. My eyes were drawn to other dishes such as the hot pastrami sandwich and the crispy brisket salad. The service is friendly and I loved the fact that we could see the chefs at work and catch just about every irresistible smell that came from behind the bar/kitchen area. The burger itself was excellent and aside from the bacon not being as crispy as I would have liked, it pretty much ticked all of the boxes. If the menu had stated that the bacon jam could have been added to it, I’d go as far as to call it one of the best burgers in the city and for only £9, it’s terrific value for money too.
+ Juicy, well cooked patty.
+ Fantastic bun.
+ Good presentation.
+ Good value.
– Would have preferred the bacon a little crispier.
– The bacon jam should be on the burger. I didn’t know it was possible to add it until the meal was over. Add the bacon jam. You need it in your life.
Have you tried this burger? Did you love it? If so, vote for it in the 2013 ‘Glasgow’s best burger’ awards by clicking here.
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Central Market Cafe
51 Bell Street
Phone: 0141 552 0902