‘Prosecco: How classy people get shitfaced’ – Unknown
Diamonds, dachshunds and my good self (ahem) are all proof that good things come in small packages.
I’d first clocked Newcastle’s first micro pub, The Split Chimp, when we walked past on the way to the Spoiler Shop Steamer last September and always had it in mind to try. And try I did when Dave and I went for a few pre Bowling for Soup bevvies. It was then I noticed that they do bottles of prosecco for £15. So i thought to myself, who do I know that likes £15 bottles of prosecco?! Partners in Wine assemble!
It’s not called a micro pub for nothing; it’s pretty teeny inside, but that’s what I love about it. Especially on the cold snowy February afternoon we visited. It sounds like an estate agent cliche to describe somewhere so small as ‘cosy’ and ‘homely’ but that really is true of the Split Chimp which is built into one of the railway arches directly underneath Newcastle Central Station. It’s set over two levels though so is actually twice as big as first meets the eye when you walk in. Most importantly, there’s not a fruit machine or plasma screen in sight.
We arrived at about 2.30pm on a Saturday afternoon and there were only a few people in at that time so we took advantage of the benches and beer barrel tables at the front of the pub by the window, after all it’s a known trick that restaurants always but their best looking people in the window to draw more people in, and what real ale pub doesn’t want a gaggle of giggling lasses drinking prosecco in the window?! Surely we’re they’re perfect demographic!
It wouldn’t be a complete review without highlighting what else they have on offer, and of course their big selling point is super trendy hipster drink du jour; real ale, usually 4 cask ales ( at around £3.40 a pint) which rotate every fortnight or so. I happen to know from some mild twitter stalking that owner and ex paramedic Mark travels the world (most recently Lanzarote) looking for new ales to bring to the beer swilling connoisseurs of the North East. They also do wine by the pouch (£3.50 for 250ml) a variety of bottled lagers and beers and some really tasty bar snacks (the peanut butter pretzels are one of the nicest things I’ve ever put in my mouth).
If all that on offer wasn’t enough they also have a (very) small pavement licence so if it ever stops raining for 5 minutes or the temperature rises above 5 degrees, you can enjoy your drinks outside. Special mention has to go to the music being played; we heard Squeeze, Level 42, The Police, The La’s and The Cure over the 5 hours (don’t judge – we sipped our 5 bottles of prosecco and large glasses of wine very responsibly) we were there, which, if anyone knows my musical history, could have been right off my own ipod. In fact if they’d played some Backstreet Boys I’d have moved in.
I’ve always wanted a favourite pub that wasn’t a Wetherspoons and I think the Split Chimp has definitely 100% taken the place of the Five Swans. Their prosecco is only £2 dearer, and if we’ve proved nothing else it’s that you don’t have to be a bearded hipster or flat capped octogenarian to enjoy a real ale pub. Oh and if it looks like you’re there for a session they get more prosecco out the back to chill for you – that’s service!