Popolo: New York meets Italy meets Tyneside!
Popolo describes itself as a “cross between a New York bar and an Italian coffee shop” so, given that New York and Italy are among my favourite places in the world, perhaps it’s not surprising that I love the atmosphere here. It’s open from late morning to late at night, and although we’ve enjoyed an afternoon coffee here before now, it’s in the evening that it really starts to buzz. It attracts a good mix of people – after-work drinkers, local “night on the Toon” groups, tourists, straight and gay couples ... Perhaps because it’s not the cheapest bar in town, or perhaps because it’s on the fringes of the party areas, it doesn’t seem to appeal quite so much to the Stag and Hen crowd, but that’s a plus in my view.
The décor certainly reflects the “part NYC, part Italy” claim, with retro diner-style bar and seating, US type bar price signs (those old-fashioned white clip-in letters) and large posters for Italian and Italian-language-version movies. There’s a large cocktail list and various special deals to be had, including a happy hour and day-specific offers (e.g. “Mojito Wednesday”, or “Tiki Thursday” with rum-based cocktails priced lower). The bar also offers a good range of beers, with some local real ales alongside UK and European favourites such as Staropramen. And of course there’s a full selection of spirits and wines.
On our latest visit (early evening on a Thursday) it was busy but not packed, and we were able to grab a seat in one corner to watch the buzz. I had a lovely summery cocktail, Basil Grande, with vodka, raspberry liqueur, crushed strawberries, cranberry juice and of course basil – very nice! And as it was happy hour it only cost me £3.95.
Dress Code: With such a mix of people you’d expect the dress code to also be mixed and relaxed, and it is. You’ll see everything from business suits to party frocks to jeans and t-shirts, and feel comfortable in any of these.
Alvinos: Great cocktails
This is a relatively new addition to the Newcastle drinking scene, so we came here for an early evening drink to check it out - and rather liked it. The atmosphere was friendly and there was quite a mixed clientele - more young than old, but not so much that we felt out of place. I had an excellent cocktail while Chris just had a pint of beer. As you might expect the beer was dearer than in a pub so I wouldn't come here just for beer, but if you want a more interesting venue than a pub, want to try the cocktails, or want something to eat (the menu looks very reasonably priced) then it's worth a visit. I'd also like to come back in nice weather as they have a terrace and I'm curious to see how good the view might be, if any.
Dress Code: Most people seemed to have made a bit of an effort; you won't go far wrong with "smart casual" however
The Lady Grey: Our new favourite pub
It seems that at any given time we will have a favourite Newcastle pub or two, but those favourites change every few years, as places decline or are done up, or the beer or food served changes, or simply because of new discoveries. The Lady Grey in Shakespeare Street falls into the first category. This used to be the Adelphi, a traditional pub popular with actors (the Theatre Royal’s stage door is just across the street) and football fans. We used to come here from time to time but wouldn’t have ranked it as a favourite. But in 2011 it underwent a transformation and became the rather elegant Lady Grey.
We have been here a few times now – at different times of day and for different reasons. We’ve had lunch a couple of times (they do great sandwiches, and the more substantial choices look good too, though we’ve not tried any of these yet). We’ve been mid afternoon on New Year’s Eve, when the atmosphere was lively but not as raucous as in some parts of the city. And we’ve been for a night-cap after dinner. On all these occasions we found the pub just to our liking – not too quiet or too busy, with friendly service and staff who are knowledgeable about the beers they serve.
And talking of beers, they have a great range and really take things seriously. We’ve had several good ones here on the various visits, but a couple that stand out are local ones – the Ouseburn Porter, and a wonderful Cherry Stout from the Tynebank Brewery. But if beer’s not your thing, or not what you fancy right now, they also have an excellent selection of wines (I had a super Rioja on New Year’s Eve) and all the regular drinks you might expect. There’s also a proper espresso machine if you would like a coffee.
Dress Code: As in most city centre pubs in Newcastle, you'll find that anything pretty much goes here. Some will be dressed to the nines for a night on the town (which could mean wearing very little at all!), some will be in business suits after a long day at work, some in casual wear or football strips etc.
- Beer Tasting
BrewDog Newcastle: Cool new bar for beer lovers
This new and very cool bar in Newcastle is for beer lovers and anyone looking for a relaxed/trendy drinking hole.
I don't actually drink beer but most of my friends and my husband are big beer fans. BrewDog have there own brewery and a selection of their own beers/ales. They have guest ales and you can have tasters to see which you would like to have a pint/bottle of. The drinks can be quite expensive but i am told that it is well worth it. My husband actually bought a bottle of beer for around £20! All the lads raved about it. I think pints/bottles can be about £6. I actually tried a beer cocktail (priced about £4) it was nice and fruity but i could still taste the beer a little bit.
They also service wine/soft drinks etc and some pub snacks i.e. pork pies crisps. It's all done in a very cool retro way. The bar staff are alternative and funky as is the bar itself. I believe they sometimes have live music and events. They don't have all that many seats so be prepared to stand if it's a busy night. The bar also has retro style pinball machine. Music playing but no DJ/dance floor. It's not that kind of place.
Dress Code: Casual or pretty much anything. People could be here having drinks after work (and so dressed smartly) or having first drinks of the night here (and so dressed to kill :)
- Beer Tasting
- Food and Dining
The Bridge Hotel: Location, location, location
I’m following my usual habit of putting pub tips under “Nightlife”, for want of anywhere better, but I have to confess to only having visited this one during the day! But Chris tells me it’s as good a drinking spot at night, so here goes …
Firstly, I think this pub scores highly on location. It’s in the city centre but a little off the most beaten pathways – away from the shops (so a little quieter during the day) and from the focus spots for night-time activity such as the Bigg Market and Quayside. But it isn’t just this slightly off-path location that makes it a winner; it’s also its lofty perch above the River Tyne. And the pub makes the most of the views, with an outdoor terrace and a raised area inside which looks out over the river to Gateshead beyond. OK, maybe a view of Gateshead isn’t going to grab you, but with three of the Tyne’s famous bridges in the foreground there’s plenty to look at, and at night the lights of the city (I’m told) make the view even better.
But you could get a view from many places, I know. This is a pub and you want a drink! Well, if real ale is your thing you’re in luck, with a decent selection of regulars and a varied rotation of guest ales. In fact, the pub has been listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide every year since 1998. We sampled a wonderful hazelnut coffee porter from the Solitaire Brewery on our latest visit and were impressed enough to buy a second round of the same. Once you’ve chosen your drink there’s plenty of room in which to relax and enjoy it, and you can also admire the stained glass windows which depict various scenes linked to the surrounding area – the bridges, the houses stacked up on the steep river banks, boats on the Tyne etc (see photo 2).
There is Sky TV so you can watch the Toon on a match day and I imagine the atmosphere is as good as any other pub in the city though we’ve not been there to watch a game. Or for something a little different, I understand that there is a Folk Club here on a Monday evening.
A piece of trivia relating to the main photo – the rather ugly building on the Gateshead skyline is the Trinity Street multi-storey car park featured in the cult Michael Caine film “Get Carter”. Debate has raged for years about whether or not the car park should be demolished, with film buffs calling for its preservation and most locals viewing it as an eyesore and keen to see the back of it. See www.riskybuildings.org.uk/docs/04gateshead/ if you’d like to read more.
UPDATE Those who favoured demolition have won; those who campaigned to save the car park have lost. If you look at this view from the Bridge today, the car park will be missing.
- Beer Tasting
Many venues...: List of places....
Nightlife in Newcastle is legendary.
There is a vast choice and you find bars/pubs/clubs to suit your needs.
You can go for a mad cheesy night out and mix it with the hen and stag do's (City centre and quayside)
You can have a bar/club trendy night out (Perdu, Revolution etc)
You can have a more trendy relaxed night out (Near the station/city centre - Tokyo, Alvino's etc)
You can just go for a coffee, some light food and really chill in a cafe or coffee house.
Or you can go from a chilled out evening with good ales and some live music (Ouseburn area)
Below is a list of all of the bars/cafes I've been in and my thoughts:
-Malmaison (quayside) - trendy cocktail bar part of the hotel. Very sophisticated bar with cool seats and a relaxed atmosphere. Expensive.
-Bar38 (quayside) - bar/club - very young crowd - didnt stay in long.
-Redhouse/Bob Trollop (quayside) - about the only proper 'pub' style place on the quayside, all the others are 'bars'. Its never very busy but good for a proper quiet pint.
-Cumberland arms (Ouseburn) - a real ale pub with loads of seating outside and extremely well known across the city. One the many great Ouseburn pubs. Also has live music.
-The Cluny (Ouseburn) - live music venue and real ales. Large pub and very popular. Good pub to meet people.
-The Tyne bar (Ouseburn) - just a short walk along the quayside and youre there. Great pub with loads of seating outside for a sunny day. Loads of choice for beers. Live music and relaxed atmosphere.
-Free Trade Inn (Ouseburn) - nothing too great inside but a good location on the Tyne and some seats outside for a sunny day.
-Forth hotel - (opposite central station) - a decent pub and popular early evening meeting place, sometimes with a DJ. Gets busy early but thins out later. A decent pub.
-Pitcher and Piano (quayside) - typical P&P chain but the location is the winner here, right on the millenium bridge, with seats outside on the river and a terrace upstairs for eaters. Quite pricey but youre paying for the view.
-Philligans (Bigg market) - pretty rough place, full of hammered people on hens/stags and nothing much to shout home about
-The Chillingham Arms (Chillingham road, Heaton) - big pub with large screen showing skysports, good for sport and decent pint with friends.
-Floritas (near central station) - part of the 'strip' full of bar clubs, this has a small dance floor and has a small outdoor area at the back. Its always packed and has a good vibe and good music. No entry fee, open til late.
-Baby Lynch (near central station) - on the strip, next to floritas, free entry, large dancing area, dark lighting, good for a good crowd wanting to drink/dance.
-Madame Koo (near central station) - on the strip, next to Floritas - a great bar/club - with hidden bar and sneaky disco, down in the basement with good music and decor.
-Perdu (near central station) - on the strip - bar/club - mainly for dancing, good music, pretty large venue with huge queues.
-Alvinos (Pilgrim st) - one of my favourites, great funky bar with 2 floors and a great balcony to sip beer oustide. Am American diner style layout with a cool set up.
-Popollo (Pilgrim st) - next door to Alvinos, another great funky bar with red decor and old film posters on the wall. They do cocktails and beers - a great place to chill out and some good music.
-Head of steam (opposite central station) - live music venue, downstairs. Upstairs has a nice enough relaxed bar.
-Digital (near central station, by life centre) - club - has different themed nights. Quite small venue with a nice balcony overlooking the sqaure.
-Salsa cafe (near central station towards football ground) - a cool cafe with great funky chill music and some great comfy sofas on 2 floors with a great spanish/mexican menu and great hot chocolate.
-Revolution (near central station)-on the strip, next to Madame Koo - very popular bar that gets packed at weekends with a mixed crowd of young and older. Good place.
-Tokyo (near central station) - one of my favourites - great decor, imtimate venue, small but good music and great crowd with good vibe and love DJ upstairs 'outside'. Expensive but cool and funky. Try the raspberry mules of the cocktail menu, they blow your doors off!
-Blakes coffee house (Grey st) - coffee house - basic but nice with homemade foods and a few seats outside - good place to chill for few hours.
-Tiger Tiger (Newgate or is it Westgate st) - typical Tiger Tiger - loud music, mixed crowd, 50% of drinks pre 930pm, plenty of hen and stag do's.
-Barluga (Grey st) - either a cool cafe bar or a cool bar/restaurant, whichever way you want to look at it. Very relaxed atmosphere. The menu is great - gastro pub style. £62 for 4 of us at lunch to get stuffed.
-Union rooms (central station) - a huge Wetherspoons which is a good meeting point, a good place to watch live football, cheap beer. Good to start off your night but not so busy later on.
-Bar North (next to central station) - small bar wtih red decor -decent enough and quite funky but the bar has long bars from ceiling to floor and makes it feel a little unfriendly. ok for a quick cheeky beer, nothing more.
-Quayside bar (quayside) - big Wetherspoons right on the river by the Tyne bridge with huge outdoor seating area so always packed on a hot day. Cheap food and drink on 2 floors.
-Long bar (central station) - nothing special - just a 'long' bar with people out to get p!ssed.
-Tyneside coffee rooms (Pilgrim st, tyneside cinema) - nice coffee rooms at the cinema with homemade kinda food and a good place to chill and chat but not as good as some of the other coffee houses in town.
-Barkollo - a funky kinda bar near the football stadium. its got a cool tiny bar, a sofa area in the upstairs lounge, where sometimes they have live music. theres a cafe and they do food upstairs too. theres a large outside area for chilling on a nice sunny day. the clientele is 'alternative' - not quite my scene, but still decent place for something different, but wont go down as one of my favourites.
-Bangkok cafe - nice small Thai cafe over near the gate. I had my favourite pad thai which was huge for £7.90. Service friendly if not brilliant.
-Intermezzo cafe-underneath tyneside cinema - a great little cafe that does light bites and some great shakes/juices and also serves beers. it has tables outside and cool to sit out on a nice day.
-Rani indian restaurant - quayside - great indian with good service and very good food. excl beers for two, cost £32.
-Mimo-new bar (July 2011) next to Revolution near the station. Advertised as exclusive Miami cocktail bar but nothing special, just a normal bar with not the best atmosphere serving not very good cocktails
-The Waterline-down the quayside-abit mainstream but a nice place in the sun or on a nice evening, its got plenty of outdoor seating. Inside nothing special. one side of the bar has a pool table and live footy. Menu looks ok although not tried.
-Broad charge-new bar down by the quayside, just on a side street near the live theatre. its quite small inside but is a good place to meet up with friends. it has a nice upstairs area for eating only and the menu looks good. its famous for its variety of unusual drinks and real ales.
-The Telegraph-round the back of the station, a cool pub but not busy when i went in at10pm, apparently 5-10pm is best as after city workers go in, but its open til 2am for some reason. its got an outdoor area and comfy sofas inside
-The bridge hotel-traditional type pub right next to the castle keep and the high bridge. busy on a friday, good atmosphere and just a generally nice place for a god pint.
-Akenside pub-On Side street at the quayside - always busy - mainly with stag and hen do's. Got a bit of a rough feel to it, nothing special. cheap meal deals too.
-Noosh restaurant at the top of Side. Voted best restaurant on top table. Great service. Good food. Great ambience. Menu is European and middle eastern. Good wine. £70 for 2 incl 2 courses and a bottle of wine.
-Bacchus pub - just off pilgrim street down a side street. its a pub which is quite nice but the lights were a bit bright when i went in! it has a square bar which makes it spacious inside but i felt it was lacking character.
-World head quarters club - at carloil square - heard good things about it so thought would check it out - it was shockingly dead. paid £7 and got in there at 1145, stayed til 1230 and only 5 people in there. will not go back. awful.
-Twist-pub in times square at the life centre. Nice bar on a hot sunnay day, sit outside, otherwise nothing special.
-AS you like it - in Jesmond, just a 3min walk from the metro. GReat pub - great clientele, big spacious pub with terrace, 2 floors, live music, dj, good crowd, open til 2am. best pub outside the city for me.
-Mr Lynch - Jesmond, opposite as it you like it (above) - owned by the same company - this one is a little more less classy but stilla good night with live music and a good atmosphere and a large outdoor area.
-Noodle house-noodle/asian restaurant, near the Gate-great little place-great food. £24 for two of us,
-SIX (Baltic restaurant) - with great views over the city and a great menu, this place is pretty good, also pretty pricey, but worth it. Service was good. 2 courses and 2 wines was £65.
-Babucho- a bar/restaurant on Side - its a cool bar which on a nice day/evening is good to sit outside. it had a large restaurant at the back with the bar at the front.
-Tup Tup-near the station, one of the only proper clubs in the centre. £6 to get in, its got 3 rooms although only one was open when i went. its ok, bit cheesy and more of a mainstream club than a club club.
-Eye on the Tyne-pub at the quayside, nothing special but nice enough for a quiet pint over conversation
-Vineyard-on the bottom corner of Grey street - its a cocktail and wine bar with only one bottled beer, an 8.6% beer! its small but friendly and ok for wine/cocktails in between going to some of the better bars
Julies 2: Julies 2
One of the longest established clubs in newcastle. Still popular with many. you will often find famous personalities here.
In 1974 Julies was the first club to open in a dilapidated area of the city known as the Quayside. Since then the Quayside has been transformed into one of the liveliest party areas in the country, and now Julies (which had become a little bit of a has-been over the years) has itself been transformed into Julies 2, the classiest, glitziest club in the area. The colour scheme is aubergine and silver (much nicer than it sounds), the bar tops are cool slabs of marble, and the club itself is the epitome cool. Music spans all tastes from 70s to contemporary. And if you tire of dancing yourself you can stand and watch the club dancers strutting their stuff in suspended cages. Happy hour drinks prices operate all night from Sunday to Wednesday, and until 10pm on the other nights. Definitely worth a visit.
Union Rooms (Whetherspoons): Drink with the locals
This bar/meeting place/eating establishment is on two floors and covers several large rooms. During the weekends, this place is packed with locals getting a pint, a cocktail, something to eat, or meeting their friends. The drinks are well done, and the locals are always eager for conversation
Dress Code: None as of this time.
IKON: All Night Long
Ikon began life as the Oxford when it was a dance hall. Because of this it is a massive building with a huge arched ceiling. At its best it's a modern, spacious club with a first class light and laser show.
I've had some cool nights in here and you can dance the night away or just chill out on the upper level looking down.
lots of bars but not very quick at getting the bottles back in.
Dress Code: Smart gear - dress to impress. Generally no jeans or trainers.
- Study Abroad
- School Holidays
various: The Happy Cats
If you get an opportunity to see local band the Happy Cats perform, I would recommend that you take it. We’ve seen them twice in the last year and had a great time on both occasions. The most recent was at the Tyneside Irish Centre, which although technically a “members only” club allows temporary admittance on payment of a £1 fee. A further £3 gained us admittance to the upstairs concert room where the band performed, and where regulars were friendly and welcoming.
The Happy Cats are a trio of musicians who combine Irish and local folk songs with some original numbers and well-known compositions by “singer songwriters” such as Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. The lead singer Marty Craggs is especially accomplished, playing lots of different instruments (I love his drumming on the Irish bodhran) and interspersing the songs with dry Geordie humour.
The website below gives details of where and when they are playing.
Tyneside Cinema: A piece of history
If you love film you’ll want to visit the Tyneside Cinema! The building that houses it dates back to 1937 and its design reflects the spirit of those times, when a “picture palace” was expected to transport audiences out of their humdrum lives into an exotic world where anything was possible. Nowadays its modern cinema, with four auditoria, focuses mainly on art films and world cinema, although mainstream releases are also shown. But this is more than just a cinema. There is a wide programme of events for film buffs, such as talks, quiz evenings and special screenings, and other cultural events including exhibitions, poetry evenings, live music and much more.
This is also a good place to come for a meal, and the “Tyneside Coffee Rooms” is a popular lunch-time spot with shoppers, “ladies who lunch”, families and local workers. Although I’ve not yet been myself, I’m told by a friend who is a member that the Tyneside Bar is great for cocktails or a glass of wine with friends, and is also the sort of place where a woman drinking alone will feel comfortable (sadly this isn’t yet the case everywhere in Newcastle). The four auditoria are licensed too, so you can easily enjoy a drink and a film at the same time.
The Tyneside Cinema was originally built as Newcastle’s News Theatre in 1937 and today is the finest surviving news reel cinema in Britain. These news theatres were very popular in their day and did an important job at a time when there was no television news, bringing images from all over the world to ordinary people back home. My mother-in-law has told me that when she and my father-in-law were “courting” in the 1950s a visit to the news theatre here was a cheap and popular evening out. For a few pennies they could watch not only the news-reels but also some cartoons and a travelogue or two. Our plans to take a Rhine cruise with her later this year (2010) arose from her reminiscences about these travelogues.
If you are interested in the history of the building you can take a free guided tour. These take place every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 11.15 AM, and take you behind the scenes. Check the website below or call 0845 217 9909 to book. We haven’t yet done this, but it’s on my “things I must do some time soon” list! I’ll update this tip when I do ...
- Arts and Culture
The Gate: Something for everyone, day or night
I wasn’t sure whether to put this tip under “Things to Do” or “Nightlife”, or even “Restaurants”, as it covers all three, but since The Gate is at its liveliest at night I’ve chosen that option.
The Gate claims to be “Newcastle’s premier leisure and entertainment centre” and certainly tries its best to live up to that hype. Under its one roof you will find bars, restaurants, a 12 screen cinema and even a casino. During the day its restaurants and cafés are a good place to meet friends – indeed the Gate’s advertising slogan when it first opened was “Meet at the Gate”. We’ve had reasonable meals in Nino’s (Italian food – not fancy but OK and well-priced) and Ask (national pizza chain that’s a cut above the usual chain food). More recently we visited the Empire cinema for the first time and were very impressed by the comfort, facilities (excellent disabled access) and staff. We had been mistakenly given tickets near the front of one of the smaller auditoria, despite asking for the middle, and when I went back to ask to have them changed we were upgraded to the dearer seats further back as an apology!
Be warned – if you come here at night, especially Friday or Saturday, you’ll find yourself in “party central”. Newcastle didn’t get its reputation as the party capital of Europe for nothing, and while the traditional venues around the Bigg Market, and the more recent ones on the Quayside, still attract the majority of revellers, there are plenty left to fill the bars of the Gate and to spill onto the streets outside. If you aren’t prepared to run the gauntlet of Stags and Hens sporting strange attire and reeling under the influence of too much alcohol, perhaps you should stay away. But the crowds are largely (in our experience) harmless, and police look on in mild amusement most of the time, so this shouldn’t put you off unless you are of a very nervous disposition – although those of you who are, like us, of a “certain age” may feel yourselves very out of place in any of the bars after about 8.00 PM!
Dress Code: It's "de rigeur" in Newcastle to wear as little as possible at night, even in the depths of winter, so for young people party wear is quite normal - strappy tops and high heels for the girls, a trendy t-shirt and jeans for the guys. But really anything goes, so just wear what you feel comfortable in.
For Your Eyes Only: great lap dancing!
Nice relaxed lap dancing club.went twice, once for the evening session in the club its self, £10 a dance, £3.50 a beer. and then on a sat afternoon, to the hustle of the bar downstairs at happy hour, 2-7p, £5 dances. great discount!!! i was buying allround me. 10 great dances for 50 quid, hard to beat.
Dress Code: casual or stag attyre!
- Beer Tasting
- Business Travel
Head of Steam
This place seemed like a real student type bar when we entered. That was until we bought our beers. Six pounds fifty for a pint of beer and a wine was a bit excessive especially as the wine wasn't too nice and my Staropramen tasted as bad as Fosters. I think it's a live music venue and it's very smoky inside, so not a good place for a quiet drink. Music was good though and I imagine it's more enjoyable place if you’re planning a big night out.
The Crown Posada pub was very close to our hotel so we stopped here a few times for a pint. It's probably best described as an old man's pub as it was a lot quieter than many other places we passed in the city. Most importantly, the beer was excellent here. They had a good mix of local beers (such as Jarrow and Black Sheep) and quality international ones like Staropramen. We had no problem getting a seat and we found it to be quite relaxing place. Certainly there are trendier and more exciting pubs in Newcastle but if you fancy a quiet, relaxing pint and a chat this is just the place.
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