Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Proper Pubs of Newcastle

If there is one thing Newcastle is good at, it's pubs.

There are absolutely loads of them, but fortunately there's not just lots of pubs, there's lots of very good pubs with lots of very nice beer, and with summer here, it's definitely time for drinking.

I may have gushed about the opening of BrewDog and subsequently spent a lot of time there, but I was a bit like a kid with a new toy. You know like in Toy Story where Andy gets Buzz and forgets about Woody but deep down he loves Woody the most, it's just maybe Buzz has some shiny features that seemed new and exciting. Well I was slightly like that, but various pubs of Newcastle, it is you that I love the most and you who i'll reside in in my boozy hours of need.

So, as it would be slightly odd to write a review of a pub given my laughably patchy knowledge of beer, I am giving you my recommendations for the best places to drink around town. They've all got good beers and there own local, individual character which is exactly what you want from a proper pub.

The Free Trade Inn

View from The Free Trade Inn
This place is not only a lovely little pub with a fantastic selection of beers from local breweries and further a field, it also boasts the most fantastically located beer garden in the whole of the city. Perched on the edge of the Ouseburn, you can sit and watch the sun go down over the beautiful Newcastle quayside. I almost moved into a flat behind here, so it would have been my local but the less said about that the better. And it's only a short walk from the centre of town (which is totally devoid of beer gardens) and is where I intend to spend most of my summer evenings.

If you need to look on a map they are at Saint Lawrence Road, Byker, NE6 1A6, you can get them on twitter @thefreetradeinn

The Cumberland Arms and The Tyne

Further up the Ouseburn is The Cumberland Arms which I just find so charmingly delightful, and whilst its large grassy area and outside cobbled area make it perfect for summer days, I absolutely love it in the winter months when it has open roaring fires, and feels like a cosy hide away from the world. You'll often find people playing fiddles and folk music inside and I always find it has a very wide selection of (very strong) ciders on. Plus it's good if you ever like to dog watch.

You'll find them at James Place Street, Ouseburn, NE6 1LD and they are @thecumby on twitter where they regularly post about up coming events.

Also in the Ouseburn is The Tyne - good for late night drinks with it's outside heats under the bridge arches and disco ball to jazz things up a bit. A night out going between these three makes for a very good night indeed.

Crown Posada

The Quayside is home to some truly terrible bars and clubs but tucked away and unassuming is the Crown Posada, the second oldest pub in Newcastle, and a real gem amongst the shit and piss that surrounds it. It has these incredible stained glass windows and behind them you'll find a very traditional, narrow pub. I've been in the pub before and been the only person younger than 50 and the only woman, but as my theory goes, the more old men in a pub the better it will probably be. It's also great for a pre-match pint.

If you're looking for it, it's 31 The Side, NE1 3JE

The Bacchus and The Duke of Wellington

The first time I came to The Bacchus I was a bit confused, i'd met the other half (before he was the other half) in town with some friends and he suggested a drink here. From the outside it doesn't look like a boozer but a smart bar with fancy upholstered chairs, but quickly came one of my favourite places to drink. As it's just down from Monument it's incredible well located, rather than a quiet Sunday pint, i'd say this is my place to go for after work drinks and is often very busy. There's a lower percentage of old men as well if that isn't quite your sort of thing and a large selection of wine.

The Bacchus is on HighBridge Street, along with The Duke of Wellington. The other half has made me spend many, many hours in this place, he did used to work next door which meant we always went here for after work drinks and it also shows the football regularly. This is a proper, classic British pub and I think it's bloody great.

The Central 

Ah, my new local. I love this place, not just because it's only a 2 minute walk from my flat. It does good beer, has a outside roof terrace, many different rooms and a pool table. I particularly like the snug at the front where you could hide away for hours before anyone found you. Plus the building is absolutely stunning and has been restored beautifully so it looks like it would have at the turn of the century. Actually, as it's so close I may pop down there for a pint before dinner....

The Central can be found just across the Tyne Bridge on Half Moon Lane, NE8 2AN and they are @the_central_bar on twitter.

Of course I also love many other pubs, The Bridge and The Bodega (AMAZING stained glass ceiling and also good for watching the football in) to name just two - perhaps I should try and spend a day drinking in them all.

If you have any recommendations for where I should be drinking do let me know.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Banh Mi Bliss from 102 Street Food

So i've been reading about these amazing vietnamese sandwiches called Banh Mi's offered by street food stalls in London, (along with all the ribs, burgers and kimichi you could ever dream of) and I thought 'I gotta get me some of that shit'. Incase you're wondering why the obscene turn of phrase, I've been watching A LOT of The Wire recently and have started talking to myself like I'm Clay Davis. For anyone who hasn't watched The Wire, he sounds like this.

My delusions about being a corrupt politician in West Baltimore aside, a Banh Mi is a traditional Vietnames sandwich  - the name originating for the term for bread when it was introduced by the French in colonial times. It can involve lots of different meats, most usually pork or chicken, traditional Vietnames ham, and pate, plus coriander, cucumber, pickled carrots, hot chillies and chilli sauce. You're getting the idea that this is one tasty sandwich I imagine.

So, when I turned the corner the other saturday and discovered a street food stall selling such sandwiches I was a little happy to say the least. It was part of the Highbridge Street Festival and it was nice to see one of my favourite streets in town a hive of activity. Previously I wrote a none to glowing (or critical) review of Little Saigon but did praise the small dishes and traditional snacks they do. This stand was from their kitchens and is called 102 Vietnamese Street Food and was spot on, authentic deliciousness. Exactly what I think Newcastle needs and from the crowds around their stand, there is certainly the demand.

The leaflet they gave me implied this was going to become a regular occurrence, my lunch times are looking up if so.

Banh Mi, 102, Vietnamese Street Food
The sandwiches came in a number of different varieties, but I opted for the BBQ pork which was sticky and sweet, hot from the grill with a hint of chilli, and also included a large slice of ham (it's sticking out in the picture looking like tomatoes) then some spiced mayo sauce, fresh chillies and pepper and coleslaw, coriander stalks and carrot. The bread was crisp and warm. Everything it should be and it cost £1.95, an absolute bargin. 

Newcastle can be pretty good at this street food stuff, now we just need an amazing burger van.