That's living, all right, in modern Newcastle
PUBLISHED: 18:26 17 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:52 20 February 2013
Pressing the case for the region both culturally and commercially, Louise Brown looks at the city of Newcastle, its places and faces, and discovers contemporary living at its best
Seeking something special in the capital our friends in the south head up west; those in our region in pursuit of the same will often go to the toon, making a bee-line for Newcastle and its vibrant city centre attractions.
Where to eat
With a range of restaurants, cafes and delicatessens, Newcastles food scene is thriving. The city truly is a statement and expression of world food, with something somewhere to satisfy the most unusual and extravagant palate.
Family-run Italian restaurant and caf Panis, located on High Bridge, is a timeless favourite, as is Caf Royal, a contemporary European caf bar on Nelson Street which provides the perfect place to lunch. Recognising the enduring passion and contemporary demand for the cupcake, newcomer Cake, on Grainger Street, close to Greys Monument offers truly delicious cakes in a wide range of shapes and flavours in a sleek, stylish setting.
No narrative concerned with food in Newcastle, however, can fail to acknowledge and pay tribute to the presence and impact of Terry Laybourne, who has transformed the city and driven its culinary renaissance. Acquiring its first Michelin Star at Caf 21 on Queen Street, his 21 Hospitality Group continues to explore new and ever more exciting horizons, recently opening to critical acclaim gastropub The Broad Chare in the quayside street of that name. Gastronomes are by nature demanding. Newcastle has much to satisfy that demand.
Where to drink
A great pull of Newcastles urban experience is the citys patchwork
of trendy pubs and bars, establishing its identity in terms of nightlife as so much more than the infamy generated by its nightclub subculture centring on the Bigg Market, Quayside and more recently the so-called diamond strip of Collingwood Street and Mosely Street.
While the adverse reputation so acquired was not entirely fair to many of the citys watering-holes, there has always been the presence of high quality alternatives to those which may have accommodated the thespians of the structured reality offering Geordie Shore, such as High Bridges Bacchus, Dean Streets Crown Posada, offering a refined window on the Tyne, the Quaysides Pitcher and Piano, and stylish Westgate Road venue, Bar Tokyo, with its sleek and sophisticated roof terrace perfect for an alfresco cocktail or something a little less delicate.
Newcastle has never exactly been short of pubs but the trade is recognising the need to lift quality and develop character and the range on offer for those thirsty in the city reflects this.
Wear to shop
From high street giants to unique boutiques, Newcastle has much to offer the committed shopper. Convenient it may be to tread the usual retail path along Northumberland Street and Grainger Street or to enjoy the cosseted comfort of Eldon Square shopping centre, but venture off-piste and you will find in the citys side streets and minor thoroughfares the world of the unusual, to an extent undiscovered and certainly eclectic.
Pre-eminent in this regard and playing host to some of Newcastles finest independent shops is High Bridge, with its adjacent boho enclave Old George Yard. Here, chic and retro-chic combine to provide a comprehensive sartorial set, Best Vintage for retro fashion and Trickle for on-trend retail menswear, offering the best in underground fashion labels, while High Bridge newcomer Grey Bear taps into a new breed of chic offering both new and vintage in its range of homeware.
Add to this the Old George Yard presence of acclaimed independent record shop RPM and you have in High Bridge an impressively high level of contemporary retail provision likely to enrich home and wardrobe and perhaps even broaden the mind. More mainstream designer fashion can be found on Hood Street, home to Vivienne Westwood, and Shakespeare Street, where Exclusive Footwear now occupies the site of its brilliant forerunner Breeze. Whether your fashion focus is high-end or high-street, traditional or eclectic, you need look no further than Newcastle.
A cultural quake has shaken Newcastle over recent years and the city has become a creative hotbed and powerhouse for arts and entertainment. The Baltic on Quayside South has established a towering reputation for contemporary art, its ever-changing calendar of exhibitions and events creating dynamism and increasing national and indeed international recognition.
Its near neighbour, The Sage, not only provides the city with a stunning architectural feature but its arts and culture provide a venue of the highest pedigree.
Other venues providing cultural enrichment are the renowned Laing Art Gallery, with its highly impressive art and sculpture collections, and The Live Theatre. Situated on the citys quayside, the Live Theatre almost imperceptibly has developed into a venue with strong and growing reputation for showcasing new and emerging talent. Impressive though these venues are, they only represent a taste of the cultural fayre on offer in the city.
The Photographer, Anna V
After studying at Newcastle College, wedding and fashion photographer Anna Vasylonok, began in business in the city.
I have many favourite locations around the city that I use, dependent on the theme, the style and mood of the shoot and sometimes the weather. I enjoy using China Town with its Asian feel, and I especially enjoy using locations that are busy with life like the city centre, where I always get interesting looks.
The cake shop owner, Catherine Denton
Cupcake supremo, Catherine Denton, realised her dream last November when she opened Cake, an independent cupcakery.
I love Newcastle for its vibrancy and buzz and I wanted to set up a small, independent business at the centre of it. Ive been lucky in securing a fantastic location on Grainger Street, close to the shops and the great markets that take place around Monument. My perfect food day in Newcastle would begin with a hearty brunch at the Butterfly Cabinet in Heaton - a full veggie English breakfast and a smoothie, followed by a fun night at La Tasca on the Quayside where my husband and I had our first date and later our wedding reception. We would share lots of delicious seafood and paella - perfect.
The Shop Owner, Holly Box
Holly Box, owner of new and vintage homeware store Grey Bear in High Bridge which opened last month, is already realising the benefits of its trendy city centre location.
Given the niche nature of my business I was keen to secure a position in a thriving cosmopolitan city and Newcastle came straight to mind. I was especially keen on High Bridge due to the number of established businesses currently occupying the street. Newcastle offers a shopper everything they desire. From Northumberland Street to Eldon Square, it is a city that caters for everyones needs.
The Theatre CEO, Jim Beirne
Having been with the organisation for ten years, Chief Executive of The Live Theatre, Jim Beirne, knows a thing or two about culture and entertainment in the city.
Newcastle Gateshead is one of the most culturally rich places in the UK and it is a privilege to be part of it. Being on the quayside for nearly 40 years has been a fantastic journey for the organisation. It is a beautiful location with a fantastic history. Some of our buildings are 500 years old! Newcastle provides everything you could wish for in a city and there is a real friendly atmosphere to the place.
The Restaurant Manager, Matthew Clarkson
Caffe Vivo manager Matthew Clarkson returned to his native North East after working in hospitality in America and South Africa and the skills honed there are now in impressive evidence at the 21 Hospitality Groups eatery in Broad Chare.
The area we are in is gaining a reputation as a real foodie quarter of the city, with Broad Chare having opened next door and Caf 21 round the corner, the location has a real quirk and quality to it. There is so much I love about Newcastle. Im really impressed with how much focus there has been on the city itself investment-wise and, of course, the people are a massive benefit to the place.