Bridging the Gap

Newcastle has cast off its gritty northern image and emerged as one of the U.K.'s most hip, happening, and cultured cities.

BY Brian Johnston

July 06 2009 12:00 AM ET

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New and noteworthy dining experiences include the ambitious British cuisine of Blackfriars (BlackfriarsRestaurant.co.uk) and Café 21 (CafeTwentyOne.co.uk), where chef Terry Laybourne presents seasonal bistro food with considerable flair: Try the venison with wild mushrooms and tarte tatin.

The city also has one of the country's fastest-growing and most vibrant gay scenes in what is referred to as the "gay village" or "pink triangle," a relatively compact area just west of the city center. Actually mostly mixed gay and straight, it has a relaxed vibe, with a good dose of hedonism and humor thrown in; the lumberjack decor of the Eagle leather bar on Scotswood Road-the main gay strip-will amuse Monty Python fans. The lack of pretension in the gay scene is refreshing, epitomized by Camp David (CampDavidNewcastle.com), where an interior of bare brick and chrome furnishings is so unassuming, it's retro cool.

It must be just about the only place in town that looks back to the 1960s, when this northern English city was a blackened post-industrial center with no prospects. Now chic, sleek, and with considerable urban style, Newcastle has its cyclops eye fixed firmly on the future.

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