‘A pub can be a magical place’ – Rhys Ifans
A few months ago on a snowy February Saturday afternoon I dragged (well i say dragged, there was actually very little persuasion involved) my friends to the Split Chimp micro pub in Newcastle so we could could sample the £15 bottles of prosecco and perhaps I would get a blog post out of it too. Little did I know that that afternoon and that blog post would turn out to be one of the better ideas I’ve had in my life (certainly better than the idea I had once to so somersaults on a trampoline after a night of drinking neat Bacardi – that didn’t end so well).
Not only was that afternoon one of my favourite afternoons I’ve spent with my friends in recent memory but it was also the afternoon I discovered what was to be become my favourite pub in Newcastle.
Dave and I have been been quite a few times since and it was on our last visit that we got talking to the owner Mark, who told us he was moving premises, to the other side of the railway arches next door to the Herb Garden. It was great that business was doing well (so well I fact that he sold out of prosecco the weekend before thanks to my last post) but I was a little worried. The thing I loved so much about the original Chimp was that it was tiny, and that you could be in there with only a smattering of other people and you would inevitably start chatting to them because the likelihood was you’d end up sharing a table with them. I was worried that a larger Chimp would lose all it’s charm. And no one likes a charmless Chimp.
Luckily, we got the chance to find out for ourselves what the deal was with the new gaff as Mark invited us along to the launch night where all my fears were put well and truly to rest. If possible the new Chimp is even better than the old. Split Chimp 2.0 if you will.
Firstly, although the new premises if bigger, it’s still small enough to be defined as micro and the extra bit of space has definitely been put to good use. There’s a larger bar area which means more real ale pumps, which of course means more choice. They’ve even got their own signature ale (Clever Chimp) which, taste wise, stacks up against any of the other guest ales they have n offer as well as some cider choices – always good to see a bit of variation!
All the character ad charm form the old place is still there, the cute monkey paraphernalia dotted around, board games you just pick up and have a go at if you fancy, nice large comfy sofas and mismatched furniture that makes you feel like you’re just hanging out at your mates place. New additions include a kitchen to be able to produce food and more room for live acoustic music at weekends. The skittle alley upstairs is also a welcome addition, which can be booked in advance if you’re interested. I’m always a fan of anything that gets people interacting rather than sitting in a large soulless room ignoring each other.
The new large glass front lets a ton of natural light in – perfect from when summer eventually arrives in the North East (I believe last year it was on a Sunday) and the mezzanine floor means the atmosphere and music from downstairs filters up so you’re not completely cut off, even if you do want somewhere a bit quieter to sit.
I could of course go on and on about how much I love this place, but you’re probably just better visiting for yourself because, like New York City, there’s just a vibe about it that I can’t quite describe. The kind of place that if it was on your doorstep you’d be there every night after work for a quick pint and a chat, it’s just really, really cool.
Now that the Chimp’s on the other side of the bridge I’m hoping that means it’ll get more footfall and that they continue to do well because with more and more flash in the pan chain restaurants popping up in town (particularly up near The Gate) I have a feeling the Chimp is going to be the Newman’s waterhole of choice for a long time to come. Even if we have to keep them in business ourselves!
Of course the most important thing of this whole move is that the bottles of Prosecco are still only £15 #SplitChimpforthewin
The Split Chimp
Arch 7, Westgate Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SA