Simply Spiffing

Colonel Porter’s Emporium is the quirky new kid on the block in Newcastle. It’s a tavern, botanical garden and ‘Rhum Bar’ all in one – and occupies a landmark space in Milburn House at the bottom of Dean Street, Newcastle.  

We popped in for a launch event the other evening – and can testify it certainly has the wow factor when it comes to décor and styling; the idea being it brings to life the glorious age of the Victorian explorers and adventurers. It’s characterful and cosy, with drapey velvet curtains, chandeliers, booths, and a giant flowering tree which spreads out across the ceiling. Not quite so keen on the stuffed animal heads mounted on the walls, though! Yikes.

Colonel Porter’s is named after the creator of Newcastle Brown Ale, Colonel J Porter – and occupies the spot that was the former Canteen and Cocktails bar. For those with longer memories, it used to be home to the esteemed Oldfields restaurant.

Settings in the bar range from a Victorian-style drawing room to a secret rum bar hidden behind a bookcase which leads to Archie’s lab which will be used for private functions and also to host rum tasting masterclasses.

The menu is said to be inspired by popular 1920s dishes, and features mains such as crab fettuccini, grilled lobster, and beef roly poly. And they also offer a range of Sunday roasts.

The canapes we sampled on the launch evening – along with rum punch – were impressively tasty. Cups of snacky goat’s cheese and black pepper popcorn, fried mac and cheese balls, Coronation chicken salad lettuce wraps, chicken satay and mini quiches, all moreish morsels. We can’t wait to sample the menu properly.  And surely it’s a sign of good things with head chef Chris Finnigan (Le Manoir-trained) currently holding the fort at the stove.

The bar has been created by John Adamson, of Ramside Estates, which also owns Ramside Hall Hotel in Durham. Along with cask ales and cocktails, the bar offers more than 100 rums and a programme of events including ‘tipsy teas’.

Chin chin!

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