The Settle Down Café, just on the western edge of Newcastle city centre and within easy striking distance of the station, is a friendly, laid-back, community café. You can tell a lot by the staff that a café employs and the folks in the Settle Down were lovely. Even though I’d turned up near closing time on a Saturday, nothing was too much trouble for them. Where other staff might be eager to usher you out, shut up shop and head home, at the Settle Down, they were happy to serve me, making me feel right at home.
What makes the Settle Down is the atmosphere. Multiple spaces, including a lovely outdoor seating area, means that there’s plenty of space, but each area has a fairly intimate feel to it. The coffee, from local roasters Ouseburn Coffee Co, is pretty good, while there’s a wide range of food and cake, all locally made, with a lot of it coming from the nearby Sugar Down bakery.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
On my previous trip to Newcastle, I had cunningly planned my day. I was going home on the 18.30 to King’s Cross, so had arranged to spend my last hour at Pink Lane Coffee opposite the station before leisurely crossing the road to catch my train. Except Pink Lane Coffee closes at five, not six, on a Saturday. Oh dear. You’d think an experienced campaigner such as myself would check something like that, wouldn’t you? Clearly not!
So with an hour to kill and the unappealing alternative of the station forecourt Costa beckoning (there are worse places; there was a Burger King smirking at me from across the way) I forsook the delights of the station and sought out the Settle Down Cafe, which had to be worth a try just on the name alone.
This turned out to be an inspired move on my part, since it got me my first taste of coffee from local roasters, Ouseburn Coffee Co, and I found a lovely, community café into the bargain. The Settle Down has a very happy vibe to it, even though I was there as the staff were closing up and the place was pretty empty. The atmosphere it reminded me of some of my favourite places in Bristol, such as Cafe Kino.
The Settle Down has multiple rooms and spaces, including a large outdoor seating area in a quiet, wide pedestrianised street off of the main road. The main room has a variety of seating, including benches with cushions around a square table, where I based myself, a couple of small tables and three comfy seats by the window. It’s not a huge space, but it feels much bigger than it is.
The counter is in a little space of its own, just off the back of the main room, with the kitchen beyond that. To the left of the counter, a doorway leads into what used to be a separate building. This is dominated by a single large table with benches by the window and has its own door to the street. At the back is another room more traditional table-and-chairs seating. Last, but not least, there is a small TV lounge (with two sofas and an armchair) right at the back.
All the food and cake are locally made and there’s ice cream, tea and soft drinks too. To save me from the (relative) horrors of on-train catering (which has come a long way, but still has a long way to go), I had the Settle Down’s last sandwich of the day, plus a bowl of soup, both very tasty! I also got a cinnamon bun to take with me in case I got peckish later (I did)!
So, to the coffee. The Settle Down isn’t going to win the UK Barista Championships any time soon, but I doubt if it’s that bothered. That said, the coffee is pretty good. I had a small latte, which was approaching a flat white in consistency and taste. Suffice to say that I was impressed.
If I lived in Newcastle, I could see myself becoming a regular visitor. For the pure coffee experience, you’d find me down at Pink Lane and Flat Caps Coffee, but the laid-back atmosphere of the Settle Down would keep me coming back.
|61-62 THORNTON STREET • NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE • NE1 4AW|
|http://www.thesettledown.com/||+44 (0) 191 2220187|
|Monday||08:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Ouseburn Coffee Company (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Benches, Tables outside|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 18:00||Food||Sandwiches, Soup, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 18:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 18:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Chain||No||Visits||20th April 2013|
If you liked this Coffee Spot, check out the rest of Newcastle’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Newcastle & Gateshead.
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