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dukeofwelly.jpg Pub review> The Duke of Wellington

The Duke of Wellington? Didn’t he invent the portaloo or something? No matter, he’s now best known for giving his name to this very fine pub which is under new management.

I’m in love. When I called into The Duke of Wellington recently there was a sassy woman in there dolled up like the female lead from some screwball 1930s comedy, all short kinky hair and a fresh way with a kooky smile. She was also drinking a pint of beer from what, for all intents and purposes, appeared to be a glass boot. Unfortunately she existed only as a large framed photograph on the wall. She, along with a couple of other carefree but undoubtedly photographic based beer drinkers, looked down over me as I pulled up a chair in The Duke of Wellington which has recently undergone a change of management

For fans of The Duke of Wellington – of which I know there are many – the first thing I would say is: Don’t panic! The place hasn’t suddenly been dipped into a steaming vat of luxe-bar hell. There are no indoor water features; there are no friggin’ leather cubes to sit on (show me a person who thinks that these monstrosities are a good idea and I’ll show you someone who finishes every sentence with the non-question “Yeah?”); and there are no posters proclaiming: “Get ready for Tiki Tuesdays and our famous kitsch cocktails!”

If you’re looking for a handle on the décor I’d describe it as “traditional modern”. The colour scheme runs to white and grey, the floor is tastefully tiled, and some walls are decked out in dark wood which resembles (if you like your high culture) a 3D relief of a Sean Scully painting; or (if you like your low culture) one of those puzzles that you get in Christmas crackers that are impossible to piece back together once you’ve pulled them apart. The large windows looking out onto High Bridge remain (with those lovely stained glass bits at the top) which still affords you one of the best views in Newcastle on a Friday night - people tripping over their hair-extensions as they troll their way up the cobbles towards The Bigg Market. Food wise you’ll go hungry if you expect to feast on cumin spiced rump of Ingram Valley lamb, but you’ll be quids in if you want a proper pub toastie which is guaranteed to come with crisps and no salad.

They also do gorgeous homemade pies, scampi in a basket, burgers and “Northern Tapas” which, we imagine, is where their “butchers’ pork scratchings in a 1/2 pint pot” comes in to play… And, praise be, their real ale selection remains a vote-winner with a glorious selection of the best in local stuff (mostly sourced from within a 30-mile radius) always hitting the sweet spot. The High Bridge bit of Newcastle has continued on its upward swing in recent years, and it’s good to see that The Duke of Wellington has re-claimed its spot as one of THE foremost destinations for those seeking an unpretentious drinking oasis in the centre of town.

The Duke of Wellington, 18 High Bridge, Newcastle.