Palmersville

I always get the P’s on the metro mixed up; Percy Main, Pelaw and Palmersville may as well all be on the moon as far as I’m concerned. None of them are anywhere near anywhere I frequent. Which is why the Wine & Beer Metro Tour has been so great, It’s taken me to places I’ve never been before.

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It was never one of the original Metro stations; this Johnny come lately opened 1986, nearly six years after the rest of the Metro line however it was the first station to feature new ticket machines and smartcard validators in 2011. Why? Who knows?

It’s a real shame that The Wheatsheaf Pub, which is visual distance from the metro (a 3 minute walk at most) has shut as that would have been everything we look for in a WABM pub, location wise. However the only other option is to turn left instead of right out the station on Great Lime Road and walk the best part of a mile to find The New Coach Inn.

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My first impression when we first walked in (at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon) was ‘wow, that’s green’ they seem to have these green neon lights above the bar which reminds me of Liquid Nightclub in the Bigg Market, which is particularly bizarre in a quiet suburb or North Tyneside.

Don’t get me wrong, the green lights aside it’s nicely decorated; nice light wood tables and lots of natural day light and open space. It does declare it’s self as  a ‘bar and restaurant’ and like most places who lay this claim, it’s more restaurant than bar.

There was no ale on offer at all, so the male contingent of our party settled for two pints of Coors Light, myself ‘the usual’ (a medium glass of white wine) and my mum and lime and soda which came to about £12.

Like you can always judge a man by his shoes, you can always judge a pub by it’s toilet and these ones were particularly uncared for. For a pub that size why on earth would you think that only 2 cubicles would suffice (and one of them was blocked when we went). I would say the only saving grace this place has is the rather swanky looking beer garden out the back – for the one day a year that it’s warm enough to sit outside

The problem with this place is it’s built it’s self to service the local housing estates and to be exactly what the people in the area want. Somewhere they can go for a few drinks on a Friday or Saturday night, or a meal with their family. It’s not the kind of place you can stumble across (mainly because it’s so bloody bar from the metro station) and consider it a hidden gem that you must go and rave to all your friends about.

Contact:

Address: Killingworth Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 7BR
Phone: 0191 216 9999

See where else we’ve been on out metro pub adventure here

Hotel Du Vin’s new Bistro

‘Seafood was always my favorite food. I mean, lobster? Come on!’ – Adrian Peterson

If being a July birthday has taught me anything (and it hasn’t) it’s that dare to utter the word ‘barbeque’ and it’s guaranteed to rain. I swear every time I try and arrange a birthday cookout we end up popping bubbly in the conservatory and grilling all the meat in the oven.

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So imagine my delight when the day of Hotel Du Vin’s summer barbeque and launch of their new bistro, the weather gods were obviously looking favourably upon me for a change and the sun made a very welcome appearance!

Hotel Du Vin has always been one of those places that have been on my radar to visit for a lifetime but for one reason or another have never quite made it. The Ouseburn area has always been a favourite of mine; close enough to be walking distance from the Quayside but remote enough that it has a quirky laid back vibe of its own. So suffice to say I was honoured to be able to attend their Bistro launch with some of my favourite blogging girlies for a little mate date.  Katie and I arrived a little early so had and had a drink in bar, which is a fab mixture of classy and cosy with lots of stylish dark wood and comfy arm chairs to recline in whilst enjoying a chilled glass of wine.

Once out on the terrace we were treated to some summer cocktails (the strawberry margarita was a particular favourite of mine) and some live music whilst they fired up the BBQ.  As is a full bbq all with locally sourced Northumbrian meat there was a seafood market cart jam backed with dressed crab, crab claws and lobster as well as a fresh Lindisfarne Oyster boat. I mean, with Brexit just around the corner it’s reassuring to know that with these delicacies on our doorstep, we’ll probably be ok with locally sourced food!

Oysters is definite the marmite of the seafood world; you either love them or hate them however it’s well documented that I’m a huge lover of marmite so am equally a lover of oysters too!  Smothered in tabasco sauce I could have eaten me about a million and a half of those bad boys! I didn’t though – they’re not all that well known for their stomach lining properties after all!

 

Thanks to Katie from www.ladyfromatramp.co.uk so use of her pictures

I could go on and on about the juiciness of the prawns or the succulence of the meat but to be honest, it’s probably just best you head along and try out their new bistro menu for yourself. The currently do a particularly good value al fresco summer set menu for £17.95 for two courses or £20.95 for three. If you’re particularly lucky, and happen to pick the day that summer falls on this year, you may even be able to treat yourself to a seat outside!

Contact:

Allan House, City Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2BE
Tel: 0191 389 8628

Review: The Bathtub Sessions Gin Festival

‘Could have been the whiskey, might have been the gin. Could have been three or four six-packs, I don’t know, but look at the mess I’m in’ – Irish Rovers

I’m always a little dubious when the word festival’ is added in front of anything and they seem to be popping up more and more; whiskey festivals, food festivals, chili festivals, and in my experience it’s always felt like an excuse to get a captive audience and over charge them.

I am however a fan of drinking gin with my friends in the sunshine so when a group of girls I don’t spend nearly enough time with thought it would be a good reason for us all to have a catch up (like we need an excuse) the £11 ticket price didn’t actually seem like that much of a rip off.

DSC_0412Thanks to Sam from www.northeastfamilyfun.co.uk for the image

It was a bonus that this particular gin festival was being held in the gorgeous Wylam Brewery in Exhibition park, which I’ve been a few times over the last few months and always had a great time. We were also extremely lucky with the weather when we went in second weekend in July so were able to spill out into the lawn and enjoy what little we get of the British summer.

The Bathtub Sessions advertise themselves as a Gin Festival with a twist (although to this day i’m not completely sure what the twist was). They have a bevy of distillers who have travelled from all over the country to give you their first hand experience of how they make their gin and allow you to sample their wares.

The £11 entry gave you your own commemorative gin glass and purchasing the gin is done on a token basis. Tokens are £5 each (so it’s essentially a fiver a drink). There were 4 or 5 different stand you could visit and props where it’s due, all the mixologists know their stuff, who knew there was so much to learn about gin!

One thing I do love about the festival atmosphere is it gives everyone some common ground and a talking point. Perhaps it was the weather or perhaps it was the gin but everyone just seemed to be mingling together asking each other what they were drinking and what recommendations they had – north east friendliness at its best!

We ended up have three drinks each; first I tried a gin and pink grapefruit mix from the Newcastle gin company which is based at Bealim House in Gallowgate. When you normally just live off lower end supermarket gins, trying something a little less mass produced is a real treat and this one was very smooth and tasted amazing with the grapefruit tonic. The second two I had I ordered off the menu we were provided with on arrival as a guide. I love anything fruity so had Boosma Dry Gin which is a ducth gin and served with indian tonic and fresh strawberries. The gin itself wasn’t infulsed with fruit but it did take on the flavour of the fresh fruit so was the perfect blend of still being about to taste the gin without it being sickly sweet.

I’m so pleased my last gin was my favourite though as it’s always a bit of a disappointment when you wish you’d just stuck with what you like. They didn’t have anything that was kiwi based (my second favourite fruit after strawberries) and was recommended an Italian lemon gin called Malfy which is made with the same lemons used to make Lemoncello (and I love Lemoncello). Served with Indian tonic and fresh lemon slices it was absolutely beautiful. It wasn’t too sharp or too sweet and the lemon flavour wasn’t too overbearing. It was like a gorgeous tasty alcoholic lemonade. I loved it so much that a bottle has gone straight on my birthday list!

We didn’t try any of the food but a friend of mine who went did and was less than impressed. The queue for one was massive so obviously they didn’t have enough staff on serving. It was also over priced (£19 for two people? – Ouch) and it was all just a mess of different things; lamb, noodles, and prawns you have to peel. Who serves prawns you have to peel as street food when you’ve nowhere to sit?!

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So Bathtub Sessions may have gone some way to restore my faith in the idea of a festival although I think certainly o the food front they need to up their gave and not rely on the captive audience. I must admit though this was very well run, it wasn’t over crowded (however had it been raining and everyone was inside this may have been a different story), the staff and mixologists were fantastic and you didn’t have to wait too long to get served.

Anywhere that introduces me to my new favourite gin can’t be all that bad in my eyes.

 

Billy Bootleggers, Newcastle

‘Whiskey will always be a part of my life’ Artie Lange

I’m sure that people who consider themselves to be real pub connoisseurs would want to burn me at the stake when I openly admit how much of a lover of a Wetherspoons I am. Cheap food, cheap wine and real ale, what’s not to love? The problem with Newcastle upon Tyne is that apart from the couple of Wetherspoons they have, and a sprinkling of decent authentic one of a kind pubs(Lady Greys, Split Chimp, Crowne Posada) it’s almost wall to wall swanky champagne bars where it takes an hour to get a cocktail and the only beer on tap is Stella.

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Another favourite pub of mine which is neither a Wetherspoons or a long standing staple of the the city is No28, which I visit frequently and was very honoured to be able to try out their Unlimited Prosecco offer before it was launched last summer. Imagine my joy when I found out that they were expanding and adding a sister underground Speakeasy.

 

Down at Billy Bootleggers, believe me when I say there’s nothing else like this place in Newcastle. A dive bar in the truest sense with its’s dark cubbyhole corners, Americana decor and bourbon whiskey by the jar. The graffiti filled walls when you walk in reminded me on CBGBs in New York (the original dive bar). So far this place is ticking all my boxes, if you pardon the phrase.  The best bar in Newcastle just got even better.

We finally visited at about 10pm on a Friday night and it was nicely busy but not so heaving that you couldn’t get moved. We sought advice from the barmaid as to what to drink as we were just looking for a nightcap before heading home. She recommended their flavoured whiskeys (at 3 for 10) so we went for Raspberry, Cranberry and Banana and they came in really cute little jam jars. Mixers were also available with them if we felt we needed them but they were tasty enough without. The Cranberry was definitely my favourite, I could have drank me a million and a half of those little glass beauties! They also brew their own secret recipe of Apple Pie Moonshine which will be the first thing I’m trying on my next visit.

The band who were playing at the time (who’s name escapes me – I blame the whiskey) were really good, not too loud that they were over bearing and playing a mixture of original material and stripped down covers all with an acoustic rockabilly feel.

The food and drinks menus are totally on brand and there are no bells and whistles. If your sipping whiskey and listening to an Americana version of Billy Jean, do you really want foi gras or hispter kale and kombucha? No, you want hot dogs (from £7) and wings (from £5) and fries (from £3.50) and stuff you can eat with your hands. They have an extensive cocktail menu if bourbon ain’t your thing, along with wine and beer too.

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Much like No28, I have a feeling Billy’s is going to be one of those places that I drag everyone along to for some enforced fun. It’s also probably the only place in the city that makes me wish there was no smoking ban; whiskey and cigars. So bluesy!

Billys is open daily from 5pm to 2am with live music at weekends.

Contact:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/billybootleggers/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BBootleggers

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bootleggersnewcastle/

 

 

Four Lane Ends

Back when we lived in Cramlington, Four Lane Ends was the closest metro to us, so anytime I didn’t feel like sitting on the Arriva 42 bus which seemed to go via Berwick to get into the centre of Newcastle, we would drive down to ride the rail. Like Haymarket and it’s one of the few stations on the network which has been granted ‘interchange’ status, which, from what i can tell basically means there’s also a newsagent and a bus station there.

 

An interchange that boasts almost 900,000 passengers flowing through the vacinity annually you expect there to be a pretty decent watering hole for at least half of those people right? Right!

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If you exit the interchange via the main doors and round the corner onto Front Street, in a couple of seconds you’ll stumble across The Benton Ale House. Now, with a names like that you’d probably be expecting a swanky pretentious hipster Brewdog knock off where you can play a game of ‘spot the man bun’ however, thankfully, the Benton Ale House is none of those things. It’s seemingly naming itself an ale house in the truest sense, a good old fashioned pub that does real ale (and a glass of wine for the ladies) at reasonable prices.

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The one thing that struck me most, was how massive it is inside compared to the size of the bar, which seems to sit slap bang in the middle of the pub with different sections circulating around it; a bar to the left, a lounge to the right, and a larger lounge round the back. There was live music on when we called in around tea time on a Sunday; a really good Beatles acoustic band incidentally, which only added to the atmosphere as from memory, it’s the only pub on the WAB Tour that’s had live music on. And I love a bit of live music.

 

They had a decent selection of real ales and lagers on tap (well, they are an ale house after all) and any regular reader will know that when it comes to my wine, i like it large and cold, of which this was both; i also quite like it when i get a choice of grape too, however I’ve never yet met a glass I didn’t like so this is less important. And for two pints, a large glass of wine and a lime & soda it was under a tenner.

On first glance I found the Benton Ale House a little intimidating; it looked from the outside a little too local for me, kind of ‘the juke box will stop playing as you walk in’ kind of local however, it’s proof you should ever judge a pub by it’s facade. I could have happily stayed all evening listening to the music and discussing the best Beatles song ever*

Contact:

Benton House Front Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7XE, 
*It’s She’s Leaving Home in case you were wondering
Find out where else we’ve been on our metro pub adventure here

Shiremoor

Shiremoor is one of the oldest station on the network having opened in 1980. It holds a special place in my family’s heart, partly because we had our car broken into in the car park in the 1980s and had our game boys and a case of Grolsch stolen out the back but mostly because it serves Shiremoor which is where my Grandma lived and close to where my Auntie Jan, Uncle Dale and cousins Ami and Alex lived. As such we would be round that way almost every Sunday.

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Coming from South Gosforth you exit the platform and turn left. Walk 5 minutes down that road and you’ll come to the Grey Horse, a large traditional white building on the opposite side of the road.

I knew instantly from the ‘live sport, pool and darts’ sign on the outside that this wouldn’t be chick pub, nor would you expect it to be in the suburbs of working class Shiremoor. We were greeted with a warm welcome though and I was really impressed to see a book swap library as soon as we walked in; the first I’ve seen on the tour so far and it instantly gave the pub a  homely, welcoming feel. Same goes for the ‘bar snacks’ incidentally.

 

As you walk in the bar is directly in front of you with the main lounge to the right and a smaller seating area to the left, both housing the ever present plasma TVs and bandit machines that seem par for the course in local north east pubs. The tartan carpet and the lightly painted wood however does give the impression that someone’s given the pub a little TLC and that’s gone someway to restoring it to it’s former glory.

 

Booze wise it was slim pickens. The only thing resembling ale on draft was John Smiths and my glass of white wine was a few degrees off chilled and extremely sweet, which is a shame as while it’s certainly a local pub for local people, it’s not actually a bad pub to spend a few hours in.

Contact details:

Address: Bertran Place, Shiremoor, Newcastle upon Tyne NE27 0HL
See where else we’ve been on our metro pub adventure here

Chillingham Road

Chillingham Road Metro Station was opened in 1982 and orginally called Parsons due it it’s closeness to Parsons engineering works. It’s also very close to Brough Park Greyhound racing stadium and Newcastle Diamonds Speedway.

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If you exit the station from Platform 1 and head straight ahead you’ll see a bridge to the right. Across the Bridge and on the other side of the road you’ll see the The Chillingham; which, if you’ever been a student in the city, you’ll be very, very familiar with!

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Yet another Sir John Fitzgerald pub, who are proving to have quite a presence on our guide so far, The Chillingham has undergone a massive refurb in recent years and for what was always classed as a student pub, it’s pretty swanky inside now. As you walk in you can either turn left or right into two large lounge areas; both of which have massively stocked bars. It was lunchtime on a Saturday for us, and a tad early to be going straight on the wine so I went for a Peach Tinnermans which was absolutely lovely. There were also lots of local ales on the handpulls and your standard lager options.

 

The decor is what you’d come to expect from a newly decked out SJF pub, lots of dark wood and tartan and whereas they do have quite a few TVs with sport being shown, it’s large enough that you’d be able to find a quiet corner away from the TVs if you wanted to.

 

The biggest draw for us when we visited was the small but perfectly formed beer garden out the back – it’s rare the big yellow ball in the sky makes an appearance in the north east so we had to make the most of it. Whilst the view of the traffic on Chillingham Road isn’t the most picturesque; the atmosphere when there’s big groups of you outside enjoying the weekend is infectious – it’s also airy enough that if people are smoking around you, it doesn’t really bother you too much.

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I could definitely see The Chillingham as a session pub, particularly with the reviews I’ve seen about the extensive food menu; which SJF pubs always have a good reputation for. Plus students always make for a good vibe!

Contact:

Address: 89 Chillingham Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE6 5XL
Tel: 01912653992
Website: http://sjf.co.uk/our-pubs/the-chillingham/

See where else we’ve been on our Wine & Beer Metro tour here