Head to Darby St and check out The Autumn Rooms fresh new cafe menu
It's become one of Newcastle's favourite destinations to dine and collect your morning cup of coffee from. The relaxed atmosphere and ever-evolving food and drinks menu is why everyone from couples to family get-togethers, friends catching up and those informal business meetings continue to flock to Darby St.
Owners Ben and Becci (of The Tea Collective upstairs) are the driving force behind The Autumn Rooms with their slightly obsessive (in a good way) work ethic and forward-thinking business ideas creating a multi-layered cafe experience. Their extensive experience in the hospitality scene has ensured that no coffee bean or tea leaf is left unturned, and that's what keeps us coming back.
A new year and new season have called for a menu overhaul with some fresh new flavours and tasty new blends to try. You may have already dropped in for their Strawberry Shortcake Buttermilk Waffles with shortbread crumble and strawberry whipped mascarpone, but did you take the Espresso Martini recommendation?
The Summer Bircher has been given a fresh twist with coconut granita, pineapple and mint as has the Seasonal Smash with its spiced beetroot & chickpeas, sesame dukkah, cashew cheese, parsley & chive oil on toasted sourdough. The Eggs Benedict has made a return, this time with a pulled Asian style pork base, kimchi, sriracha hollandaise, poached eggs on toasted brioche.
For something a little more hearty the Brisket Bowl can't be overlooked with its pulled beef brisket, spiced black beans, corn, rocket, tomato, crispy potatoes pico di gallo, guacamole & chipotle aioli.
When asked what, if any, have become their most popular dishes Becci says, "our menu is always evolving but we do have items like the mushroom toastie with big roasted field mushrooms, caramelised onion, haloumi and truffled mushroom puree which we just can’t take off and, we love our Champagne Breakfasts, you can usually find someone having one most mornings in our cafe."
Interested to know just how Ben and Becci have been able to create such a winning formula in what is notoriously a tricky business to have longevity in Ben explains, “my hospitality career in Newcastle started at The Castle [King Street], and I asked about getting into management, which I was studying at the time, and they gave me a go which was fantastic and has basically shaped my whole career.
“I continued to work in hotels and nightclubs for a long time around Newcastle, about 14 or 15 years, but towards the end I started to get a bit tired of it and it was when I began working with the chefs that I started to get an interest in food and coffee."
“I toyed with the idea of going out on my own for a long time, I was in my comfort zone, but eventually I decided to bite the bullet, but I didn’t just jump in I did a lot of research working in Melbourne for about eight months. I was really lucky to work with the guys from Proud Mary’s who roast our coffee here. When you talk about coffee I don’t think anyone knows how good those guys are, the roastery is amazing. I developed a good relationship with the owner and management, and it’s continued on."
“I’ve got a pretty intense personality when I jump into something, I really jump into it. I totally immersed myself in coffee, and Becci knows tea, but it doesn’t matter what we know, we’ve got to make sure it carries throughout the whole business.
“I was consulting for other restaurants when I returned to Newcastle, I wasn't going to use Becci’s tea, I was adamant about getting my tea from Melbourne and I knew who I was going to use. But when I first visited Becci and saw what she was doing I thought there really is no need, and how good is it that we have someone at that level in Newcastle.”
The tea menu has been refined, upstairs is where you'll find The Tea Collective if you're looking for a fully immersive tea experience, and if you prefer something more chilled it's hard to go past Becci's range of Iced Teas whose flavours change with the seasons pickings.
Aside from the tea and the coffee Ben and Becci have searched high and low to find the right local suppliers to work with in order to produce the most perfect flavours for their menu.
“We use Alderly Creek Eggs - a beautiful family run farm out in Stroud that we have built a strong relationship with. Eggs play a leading role in our menu so they better be the best."
"Our menu focuses on balance, quality and variety, which means vegans and vegetarians have plenty to choose from and our all-day menu means you can order a cheeseburger for breakfast if that’s your thing."
“Our staff are amazing, Dylan Hunt our Chef is extremely passionate and focused on producing outstanding food that also looks incredible. Francis our Barista is so knowledgeable and is going to do amazing things in the coffee world and we have Taylor our manager, he focuses on service and the smooth running of things and keeps the team tight. It's an amazing team, we're very lucky.”