Gaming Hangout Review: Meltdown, Caledonian Rd London

Meltdown is a chain of gaming themed bars that primarily aim to appeal to E-Sport gamers and they can be found in a few different European countries and the UK. Because the UK doesn’t like to be reminded that it is part of Europe.

We’ve been to the Meltdown in the UK, up London way so that’s the one we’ll primarily speak about in this review, but from the look of the website and opinions of friends from Germany and France, the Paris and Berlin Meltdown Bars are really worth checking out if you happen to be in the area.

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So what is Meltdown London – well it’s a place that takes a bit of walking from Kings Cross station to get too that is if you forget that buses exist. Once you get there you’ll be remiss to find that it’s not entirely easy to recognise the gaming bar from the exterior. Though you can see Meltdown on the corner, we were expecting some gaming artwork on the outside for it to stand out from a Stag and Hens.

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When we went to visit during the TI5 finals in August, we almost walked straight past the joint. Despite pictures shown online, inside is very dark, as in black walls with a few TV monitors adorned upon the blackness and behind the bar. There’s an area set up with PC’s and gaming chairs for people who want to get their MOBA on in the bar and of course you can bring your own laptops and set up to play additionally. Bathrooms are located downstairs, but it would be good to have a more easy to access lavatorium for disabled visitors.

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The décor could do with revamping, add some neon designs or lights or even a few posters. The blackness of the bar isn’t helped by the incredible whaff of heat that fills the space, even with the air conditioning on full whack. The screens behind the bar showcase in a static-interference video screen character select manner, the cocktails that are on offer, which is a really nice touch, especially if you don’t get your hands on a menu easily.

The drinks themselves, because it still comes down to that as much as the atmosphere, are really quite good. In fact for all our moaning about the place needing to look less like a gaming funeral parlour, the staff really knows how to make funky looking and deliciously tasty with the right amount of alcoholic content, gaming cocktails. Out of all the gaming themed bars that exist in London, Meltdown, by far offers the best in themed drinks. This is high praise but backed up by a factor of design+taste+alcohol=win.

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The only thing that is a bit rough, which all these gaming bars have in common is the price. I’m not sure if they do a happy hour now and again, but it would be greatly appreciated. This notion that cocktails that have a certain name, deserve to be pricier than other drinks, is really forced in gaming bars and it can be a bit disheartening when you want to try a few but can only afford 2 and then have to go to beers.

Staff are friendly and as usual with a lot of places you want to go for a drink, if the company you bring is good, then the night will usually be good or at least not entirely dismal. It would be great if Meltdown could create some events to get customers involved and also brighten the place up a bit. They allow you to order food to the venue which is a welcome offering, but if they could just fix the heatwave that exists within, that’d be nice.

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Meltdown is a fine bar, with lovely drinks, if not a tad too expensive, friendly staff and seems to have a steady stream of customers so it never feels like you’ve entered a barren saloon. The location isn’t really a factor because not every bar can be located right at your doorstep or in the centre of the city. But with some improvements to the layout and more gaming related events it could be somewhere that is worth trekking too more often, nevertheless, despite how it seems, we would head up that way again for some Resident Evil cocktails and hanging out.

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