Centenary Hotel (Townsville, QLD)

Note 25/9/2013: The Centen has been receiving mixed reviews of late. We’ll be visiting again soon to do an updated review.

Hamish Reports: For those with an inclination to appreciate 1950’s art-deco styled buildings, cold beer and good steaks, then the Centenary Hotel (more locally known in Townsville as “The Cen-ten”), will be of great appeal.

Having never visited this pub myself until only recently – which i might add was on account of an invite to attend a Christmas function, I had heard murmurings that the Centen was a “good pub” for a good meal and one that was family-friendly.

Considering that our Cairns reviewers were to be in Townsville again, and considering that I had previously thought that the Centen would be worth checking out properly – with its unique location and style, it was chosen as the subject of our latest review.

The Centen itself is located in French St, in the quiet homely suburb of Pimlico in Townsville. The first time visitor would be forgiven for thinking that they have literally been led “up the garden path” with the directions – driving along French st gives no indication that there would be a pub located in what is seemingly a sleepy 1960’s developed urban area.

Out of almost nowhere emerges this pub, about half way along the street. The first indication confirms that it is indeed child-friendly, in that it has one of those huge inflated pillow type bouncy areas located in a fenced area adjacent to the adequate carparks. The building itself is a two story brick building, constructed (from available reports, subject to correction) in the 1950’s. Plain brick veneer but with the art-deco revival curved corner bricks, and loads of terazo floorings inside. the humble foyer boasts two brown sitting chairs which are also in theme with the art-deco styling, as are the staors that lead up to what was once an italian restuarant, and prior to that, accommodation.

The pub is quartered up so that there is a public general bar immediately at the main entrance, which (again, reportedly0 was once the “lounge” bar, but now sees the general public drinking area. the former public bar is now a “sports bar”, with another area well away from the main drinking and socialising areas set aside for pokies.

An indoor dining area is adjacent to the former “lounge” bar, and depsite showing its age, it pulls through well again with the art-deco features of dark timber bi-fold doors and “bubble glass” printed windows. The dining room opens up onto a very pleasant outdoor dining area with plenty of seating – some of which have been constructed with what appears to be former church pews, cleverly integrated into the “booth” seating dining areas.

The extended outdoor kitchen provides a reasonable expanse of menu items, of which the steak is undoubtedly the king. Meals are reasonably priced, and are more than ample in quantity. At our table, I observed hearty eaters almost struggle to get through a parmy that appeared to have almost half a kilo of cheeses, and of an adequate enough size to be a meal large enough to provide sustenance to the average himan for a full day. It was certainly remarkable value. The steaks – these rated extremely high on all reviewers lists – good tender, quality meat, nice sized portions presented nicely on unpretentious plates. Those of us who like pepper sauce noted that it was decent sauce with ‘balls” in that it consisted perfectly with the right balanceof heat and peppercorns to gravy mix. Perfect!

The beer was cold, and despite struggling with supplies due to the limited freight being able to be received due to the devastating QLD floods, most general beers were at least available in nicely chilled stubbies, and the bar provided a peaceful but ambient place to gather around and talk, whilst enjoying a cold beer without having to compete for volume with any poker machines or big screen TVs. As a side note, the TV’s that were observed were again unobtrusive, and of sufficient volume that you could hear them if there was sosmething of interest happening.

Smokers are also adequateky catered for by their pleasant outdoor smoking area adjacent to the main entrance, surrounded by some not so happy wall mounted Elk-horns – some of which are sadly departed this life.

Over all, this pub has its own identity and character, service is friendly, cold beer, excellent meals, and would certainly cater well to any type of patron – be it the Missus and kids for an affordable, tasty meal, or catching up with mates after work for a hard earned thirst quenching session. Id rate this pub a 8.5 out of ten, and even then, that may be too harsh, considering that this particular reviewer is considering making the Centen a new “local”.

Mikes Comments: You gotta love it when Hamish does a review – there is very left for anyone to have to say once he gets on a roll.  I will take up his offer of being open to correction though – the pub was built in 1960. But being Townsville, I am sure the designers were of the opinion that art deco was still modern then 🙂

We couldn’t believe our luck with the quality of the food on the night the pub was reviewed, so we went back for lunch the following day to make sure it was no fluke.

It was no fluke!



Pimlico QLD 4812, Australia


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  1. #1 by roller on 17 January, 2011 - 5:28 pm

    The pub also has a website too! http://www.thecenten.com.au

  2. #2 by Old Patron on 23 December, 2011 - 8:15 am

    22 Dec 2011; 8:00pm. Came to show my sister how good the food here but was too dissapoointed. Ordered well done steak but brought it back coz of blood is still streaming out of the steak. When we the steak came back, it was burnt and taste like charcoal. My sister did not eat the steak and left the place hungry. I think its a different chef from the one we are used to.

  3. #3 by Julie on 3 April, 2012 - 7:38 am

    There has been a significant deterioration in the quality of service and food at this iconic local pub over the past 2 years. Recently taken over by the managers of the Consortium Nightclub there is obviously little interest in this venue. The quality of food from the kitchen is unreliable and often barely eatable – my partner ended up with food poisoning

  4. #4 by Mike on 3 April, 2012 - 7:47 am

    It’s a shame when a great venue deteriorates like that. Probably need to put a qualifier on the reviews to the effect that the reviews will time expire after a certain period. Or better still, revisit all the pubs, say annually, and check on their progress!

  5. #5 by Sheryle on 19 August, 2012 - 2:07 pm

    Have just arrived home after having one of the worst meals ever – both meals were over cooked, the service extremely slow and the bar service almost non existant (one person behind the bar for Sunday lunch?) $65 for two meals and 2 drinks – I remember when the Centen was one of the best venues in Townsville for meals – how things have changed in such a short time – very disappointed and will not be going back

  6. #6 by Merryl on 22 December, 2012 - 2:00 pm

    I was recently at the centen and had a great lunch and even better dinner. It is under new management and has a new chef. The service was second to none and very friendly. This was my first time there and I would recommend it highly.

  7. #7 by Merryl on 16 January, 2013 - 6:47 pm

    went back to the Centen Monday to be sure I wasn’t dreaming the first great meal. No dream this time it was even better. My friend and I thourghly enjoyed our meal and will be going back with even more friends. Great tasting and great value. To the staff and management of the hotel keep up the good work.

  8. #8 by Baz on 7 March, 2013 - 7:53 pm

    As a long term local, the service and food have gone through the floor and the prices have gone through the roof since the new owner took over. The 2 for 1 pizzas on tues night went and the discount vouchers in the letterbox disappeared along with the yearly seafood fest in the carpark. In came fri arve titty girls (across the road from a little girls ballet school!) and all the great previous staff disappeared. The place is a shadow of its former self and I’ve hardly been there since the change of ownership. And French Street is 1930-40s, not 1960s. The hotel was built 1960 when they took some houses away

  9. #9 by Gary colby on 11 May, 2014 - 1:50 pm

    Had a beer battered barra burger it was overcooked that much it was like rubber and oil was just running out of the batter will not be going back to the centenary again too hit and miss wheather you are going to get a descent meal if you cant get a burger right what hope have they got cook a proper meal then

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