‘Wine is crying juice. Rum is worse’ – Retta
When you think back to about 5 years ago and all the empty units that seemed to be dotted around Newcastle City Centre it would be safe to say that there’s been somewhat of a rebirth pubwise recently. For my personal taste there has been a few too many Harry’s type places springing up but one place I have always rated and has gone from strength to strength over the last 18 months has been the Split Chimp on Westgate Road (next door to the Herb Garden).
The Chimp micro pub started out life round the other side of the railway arches opposite The Telegraph. They moved round to the lighter side in 2016 to a larger unit all the while keeping their micropub feel and I don’t think there has been a time I’ve walked passed where there hasn’t been a good handful of people inside.
Despite other micropubs starting to pop up, The Split Chimp still remains my favourite with it’s perfect mix of real ale (including their own Clever Chimp – a great session ale) and £15 bottles of prosecco – which is what drew me there in the first place. So the question really is – how do you improve in perfection?
You install a rum bar, that’s how! Owner Mark Hall, a former paramedic, decided that there was a market in a city awash with swanky gin bars that he would offer something different for the pirates among us so opened up the Top Chimp. Renovating the upstairs area with a rum bar open on Fridays and Saturdays and adding some comfy sofas and softer lighting for a more cosy atmosphere. Not only do they have a vast selection of rums with names I can’t even pronounce, Mark has painstakingly produced his own Rum Cocktails (rum mixed with flavoured ciders and ales) which are pretty amazing! Needless to say if it’s just Bacardi you’re after you might want to try somewhere else..
It’s so lovely being able to see your favourite pub go from strength to strength without having to adopt any fancy marketing plans or corporate brewery chain input creating an oasis in a city jam packed with pretentious ginnery’s (is that a word – it is now!). I love the big leather arms chairs that have replaced the skittle alley and wooden benches, especially with the darker nights drawing in, even more reason to snuggle in for an evening with friends. If only I can now convince Mark to open on Sundays…