A SLICE of Darby Street had landed in Stockton with the opening of Autumn Rooms Coffee Bar.
The hole-in-the-wall espresso bar opened in mid-December, taking the Cooks Hill cafe of the same name's philosophy of great coffee and tasty food across the harbour, serving Glitch Coffee and a menu of breakfast and lunch options, as well as pastries, cakes and sweet treats.
"My idea with this was to utilise what we had built on Darby Street but in a smaller capacity," says owner Ben Richardson, who is operating the Stockton venue with co-owners Dylan Hunt and Taylor Schneider, who work as head chef and manager respectively at Darby Street.
"We are using our kitchen from Darby Street to produce the food and then we take it across and finish it off, so a lot of the prep is done off-site.
"We are able to do some really nice stuff on the menu here because we have a full kitchen we can use without actually having to have such a big space and a full kitchen at Stockton."
The menu includes toasties (brekkie toastie with bacon, egg, American cheddar, onion relish and hickory BBQ sauce; vegan toastie with quinoa bread, sweet potato, spinach, green goddess dressing and sun-dried tomatoes; and the cheeseburger toastie with ground beef, pickles, American cheddar, mustard, ketchup and onion relish); house-made banana bread with whipped vanilla mascarpone and seasonal berries; and avo toast with whipped ricotta, pepita dukkah and shallots.
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Other options include soul bowl with pickled veg, baby spinach, roasted sweet potato, roasted potatoes, turmeric, yoghurt, grains, seeds and avocado mousse; and Vietnamese-style pulled chicken salad with baby spinach, herbs, nuoc mam dressing, pickled veg, bean shoots, green goddess dressing, pickled chilli and peanut crumb.
"Darby Street definitely has influences on the menu," Richardson says.
"Our house-made crumpets are on the menu, which are really popular, and our bircher muesli, so we have taken the things off the Darby Street menu that will work in that space at Stockton.
As well as coffee (including the iced latte, which is served deconstructed-style with milk and ice, a bottle of house-made cold brew and agave syrup to make to your liking), Autumn Rooms' drinks menu includes milkshakes, smoothies and a range of specialty teas from The Tea Collective, the Newcastle tea company that operates above Autumn Rooms Cafe in Cooks Hill. Takeaway is an option, or pull up a table under an umbrella out the front.
Richardson's plan to open a second venue has been on his radar for a while, but it wasn't until he found the site at Stockton, and Hunt and Schneider came on board, that it felt right.
The cafe is in the main street of Stockton just a short walk from the ferry terminal.
"I had been looking for a second venue for a little while and I had a couple of close calls, but this one I knew was coming up and as soon as I drove into Stockton it all started to make sense," he says.
Richardson says the coffee bar has been run off its feet since opening, despite the challenges that COVID has thrown their way.
"In those first couple of weeks it was a lot busier than we thought it would be, which was nice, and that was also exacerbated by the fact that everyone in Stockton closed over Christmas, so for a few days there we were the only place to get a coffee," Richardson says.
"I actually really enjoy this style of hospitality. We have a service window at the front of the cafe and you can chat to the customer out the window while you're making their coffee."
Autumn Rooms Coffee Bar, 42 Mitchell Street, Stockton. Open weekdays 6am-2pm and weekends 6.30am-2pm.
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