The Cluny is something of a cultural haven. It has a record studio and art gallery, and one of the best selections of real ales and world lagers in Newcastle.
It also hosts everything from showcase gigs, album launches, international blues’ artists to established acts like Sandi Thom, Evan Dando and The Beautiful South’s Paul Heaton.
Not far from the end of the Quayside, where the Tyne turns a corner, The Cluny represents a similar change of course compared to many pubs in the city. It's a must for any visitor to the Newcastle as it's a unique venue which excels in every avenue it treads.
Housed within part of an old whisky bottling factory, The Cluny sits at the centre of the Ouseburn Valley, next door to the Seven Stories building. The main room is dominated by the large rectangular bar in the centre. There are tables by the windows near the entrance and all round the bar, some games machines and there’s a cash point (a welcome feature in a bar out of the city centre).
In the top corner is a small lounge area kitted out with comfortable sofas and coffee tables full of flyers. The stairs at the far end of the bar lead up to a lounge/gallery area, with coffee tables, large settees and exhibitions that change every few weeks. There’s also access to the live venue section of the pub.
Inside, where the gigs take place, lighting is usually a little dim. The room itself isn’t that spectacular, with little or no decoration on the walls, and there is what remains of some original brickwork. The stage is located in the lower part of this room and there's some standing room/dancefloor. The seated section and small bar are on the raised half, with newly refurbished toilets just outside the door.
Popular with students, real-ale fans and office workers, there isn’t really one specific crowd at The Cluny and it can depend on the type of act performing. Its out-of-the-way location means it’s usually full of people who are there for a specific reason, whether it’s a band showcase or a private function.
The staff are friendly and possess an almost encyclopedic memory for the huge diversity of drinks on offer. The Cluny exudes a special kind of warmth that could keep you there hours after you were due to move on.
The food at Cluny is some of the best in the city. Made almost entirely from fresh ingredients and served in generous portions, everything on the menu will tempt you. The specials board changes day to day but the main staples of made-to-order sandwiches and toasties. The homemade burgers are incredibly popular, and for good reason - they taste fresh, they're succulent, and fill you up.
The soup of the day is equally filling and there’s a good range of salads. You can even make up your own. The chilli, also freshly made, comes as either beef or the vegetarian alternative of spinach, chickpea and mushroom. Sunday lunches are popular here and it’s worth paying a visit for the quality of the food alone.
The Cluny has a great selection of real ales such as Mordue, Timothy Taylor and Caledonian. They pride themselves on stocking the best of independent breweries and also provide local beers Durham and Wylam on tap, and pretty much any other UK company you can think of, either bottled, as a guest ale, or on order through their take home beer policy (effectively an off-licence within a pub).
Their world beers are from regulars San Miguel and Kronenbourg to familiar Czech lagers like Budvar and Staropramen. But there are also far-flung titles such as Holland’s Lindeboom and Belgium’s tasty Timmermans Strawberry beer.
As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a massive selection of bottled drinks, wines and spirits, including well over 40 types of vodka from Eastern Europe and several rums from the Caribbean. It has a bit of everything and something for everyone.
The Last Word
This listed building under the Byker Bridge sees a lot of talent in all forms on a regular basis. Somehow, it matches the quality of its music variation with an awe-inspiring beer selection and one of the best pub kitchens in the region.