‘Beer. Now there’s a temporary solution’ – Dan Castellaneta
It’s no secret that I’ve always been a massive fan of one of Newcastle’s first micro pubs The Split Chimp and since they opened in 2015, there’s been a few more open up in our fair city. So I figured it was about time I put together a little guide letting you know where they are, how to get there and what to expect when you arrive. It’s a public service, it really is.
So whether you’re on a stag or hen do or just a day out with you mates, there should be something for everyone here, and if you try it out yourself, remember to let me know how you got on in the comments below…
The Town Mouse
Starting at Haymarket metro station, you want to start near the outside cash machines on Northumberland Street and look left so you’re facing the Civic Centre. Turn right down St Mary’s Place and walk for 2 minutes and you’ll see the very small but perfectly formed Town Mouse down some little steps. As far as micro pubs go this is probably as micro as it gets with room for about 20 people max. There’s a good selection of ales on offer (about 6-8 kegs) and the staff are friendly and knowledgeable. Dad was particularly pleased to see Blood on the Tracks in the vinyl collection, we may as well have just left him there and picked him up on the way home.
The Mean Eyed Cat
Come out of the Town Mouse and walk back past Haymarket metro keeping it on your right. Cross the road towards the University and turn left after you crossed. Turn right up St Thomas street (first right) and you’ll see the Mean Eyed Cat next to the large Oxfam shop. I fell a little bit in love with this pub the second I walked in. In stark contrast to most of the other pubs on the tour, it’s brightly decorated with a quirky Mexican theme. They have around 8 beers on tap at any given time which changes regularly and the 7% Mango ale I tried when we were there was one of the nicest beers I’ve ever had. They regularly have food specials on through the week including pizza nights and south American empanadas.
Speaking of food, we decided, because of the locality of the pubs on this tour, to add a food stop. It’s also an opportunity to visit the wonderful Grainger Market for anyone not from round here. Come out the Mean Eyed Cat, turn right and right again on to Percy Street. Walk for about 5 minutes down Percy Street and before you get to the Gate complex turn left down Blackett Street (where the buses go!) This will take you to Greys Monument, again a good spot for out of towners. From Blackett Street turn right down Grainger Street and you’ll come to an entrance of the Grainger Marker, herein lies the fantastic Meat Stack.
There’s a reason Meat Stack has been voted best burger in Newcastle because they are quick simply incredible. The steam their burgers rather than fry them meaning the meat absolutely falls apart in your mouth. All burgers are doubles and come with ketchup, american mustard and relish but are made to order so if you fancy more of one and less of another they’ll be happy to accommodate. There’s also specials on if you want to upgrade to a meal deal with a drink and chips, and their truffle oil and parmesan fries are in.credible. It’s the perfect stop to grab a quick bite to soak up all that beer!
The Split Chimp
Come out of the Grainger Market and head towards the Bigg Market (you might need Google maps for this one depending on which exit you leave by). Head down the Bigg Market and past St Nicholas Church and Newcastle Castle (it’s a cultural walk as much as it is a pub crawl really!) the bear round onto Westgate Road where you will see the Split Chimp on the left.
I’ve written about this place loads of times about how it’s one of my favourite pubs in Newcastle. It’s one of the larger ‘micro’ pubs but there’s always a handful of people in no matter what time you visit and the staff are great. Their house ale (The Clever Chimp) is a solid favourite a really good session ale – even I like it! But they also have a wide selection of Gins and Rums too.
The Box Social
Come out the Chimp and turn left and immediate left again through the tunnel. Once through turn right and you’ll soon come to the Box Social which is quaintly nestled in one of the arches of the railway bridge.
Fun fact, Box Social is now where the original Split Chimp used to be, which means I automatically love it. They’ve managed to put their own stamp on it as it’s have a complete overhaul and looks nothing like the Chimp used to, but has still retained the friendly, cosy atmosphere. They have loads of beer on offer and barman Leo was great advising what a fruity beer drinking philistine like me should have. Definitely a great place to spend a few hours on a Saturday afternoon to avoid all the large, football showing, Fosters serving pub chains in the city
Come out of Box Social, turn right and literally walk into the next building along which is the final stop on the tour; Beer Street. A+ for location and a worthy place to end the day.
The addition of Beer Street ‘under the arches’ is really bringing that area of town to life, especially with the completely stark over priced gin bar at the Crowne Plaza across the street. We were there around 4pm on a Saturday and it was really busy but not so much so that you couldn’t get a seat upstairs and enjoy the lively atmosphere. It’s the kind of place that has something for everyone; plenty of choice when it comes to beer; the house wine was probably the nicest of the wines I tried on the tour and who doesn’t love a game of Cards Against Humanity with your parents?!
And thus concludes another successful tour. What was particularly great about this one was how supportive of each other they all were. All the ladies and gents we spoke to in the pubs all recommended each other so they have clearly developed a really cool micro pub community. A community I’m more than happy to be part of and I can almost guarantee i’ll be back to all of these in some point in the future with the girls to avoid plasma TV and play Cards Against Humanity!