Fresh local ingredients, and taking it to the next level
When I jump into something, I really jump into it.See our handpicked guides to Newcastle
The 127 Darby St space has seen some changes over the last few years but we feel there is some stability in the air with Ben and Becci bringing their slightly
obsessive (in a good way) work ethic and forward-thinking ideas to the business.
Becci, who you may know from The Tea Project and Ben, well he’s been in
the Newcastle hospitality scene for years, are the driving force behind this multi-layered business, that we’ll need more than one article to cover
Meeting up with Ben and Becci over a single origin coffee from the Las Flores region in Santa Barbara, Honduras, Ben said, “My hospitality career in Newcastle started at The Castle [for the young ones that’s 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.”
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.
“Our crumpets are from a local guy, we use Cornucopia eggs which are the best, and I would know I eat a lot of eggs. We grow our own herbs and we really try to do things as naturally as possible, like the Smoked Salmon. We smoke it in-house using one of Becci’s tea’s, the Lapsang Souchong, and it tastes amazing because of all the flavours."
Becci said, “there’s heaps of vegan and vegetarian [options] on the menu, which we didn’t intentionally do the menu just evolved like that. We’ve kept the menu quite short so we can focus on each of the dishes and do them as best possible, as well as being able to offer the full menu all day which means you can order a cheeseburger for breakfast if that’s your thing.
“Our staff are amazing, Dylan our Chef is extremely passionate and focused on producing outstanding food that also looks incredible. Francis our Barista, who is only 18, is so knowledgeable and is going to do amazing things in the coffee world. It's an amazing team, we're very lucky.”
The Autumn Rooms showcases great quality produce in a casual yet high-end way.
"We’ve kept the food and drinks list short so the decisions are easy, it is the vibe we want to create. The focus is on relaxing with friends and enjoying the space we have created. We want a little romance in the evening. Watching people walk past on Darby Street and just enjoy summer. We will start to have some live jazz on the weekends.
“The evening menu is evolving we’ve got some cool ideas but pretty much the menu is crafted around what Dylan feels like making, which keeps things really
Ben and Becci have a very long list of what they want to do with The Autumn Rooms, and whilst we can't reveal them at this point it's going to be one to keep your eye on.