Element Bar owner Darrin Northey has recently taken over the cracking little laneway space that is Dark Arts Brew & Bar in Cox Lane. He has spent the past couple of months doing a bit of a refurb, and a big freshen up, to hopefully create another awesome spot in Coffs that folks can escape to. FOCUS had a chat with Darrin, to find out more…
Hey Daz. What’s the idea behind the new restaurant? What style of food will you be serving up?
Essentially the place speaks for itself. From the moment I walked in, I could picture that intriguing, unique, cosy, intimate laneway place that hides away from the real world. It’s a café, a casual restaurant, a bar, a lounge and an awesome spot for functions and parties.
Our food is comfort food, done well! Just great quality casual food with plenty of options to enjoy for brekky, lunch and share in the evening with drinks.
We run an all-day menu from brekky to lunch every day and dinner on Friday and Saturday nights, with a focus on lots of great options for people to explore, share and enjoy in a casual social atmosphere.
We’ve also made sure we have plenty of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options, so we have something delicious for everyone to explore.
And the drinks menu, Will it be similar to Element Bar?
Firstly, of course, our coffee and tea are spot-on! We use locally roasted Dark Arts Coffee ’Roasters’ “Black Magic” as our house blend and Mid North Coast local, Tea by Birdy, for our soothing leafy stuff. These folks really are simply brilliant at their craft.
I also believe grown-ups should have their own style of candy store too! So, we have an awesome range of craft beers and cider on tap that we constantly rotate, a really solid range of fantastic wines, our own quality house cocktails (or we can always whip up any of the classics) and of course, a huge range of whiskies, bourbons, gins, rums and other spirits.
Essentially our menu is all about that outstanding coffee and tea you crave every day, and then lots of choice and exploring with everything else!
So yes, a very big range like Element Bar, but still plenty of different and unique things to sip on at Dark Arts.
Out of all the dishes you could come up with, how does a dish make the final cut?
It’s always a challenge, but also the really fun part.
Firstly, it’s having a great Head Chef who is creative, practical, knows their stuff and cooks damn delicious food. Our Dark Arts’ Head Chef, Josh Pascoe, definitely nails that!
Then it’s a big list of plates that “feel” right for the style of place you are trying to achieve. Then it’s explore and taste until you throw away the ideas that don’t quite work and land on the dishes that really fit who you are, taste great and can be served in a reasonable time for customers.
We’re incredibly excited about our final menu. It’s quality, casual, incredibly tasty and a huge range for customers to explore, from all-day brekky and lunch, right through to a lazy arvo bite with a few drinks and a nice casual social dinner.
What inspired you to take on this new venture?
It was the space and what I could see it being. The second I walked in to take a look, I knew it was me, I knew what it could be, and I was genuinely compelled.
I really felt like Coffs needed that nice relaxed place in the centre of town that was unique and out of the ordinary. We have an awesome town, in an incredible location and deserve great venues for people to explore!
I love the laneway aspect and the sheer intrigue when you first walk in the doors. It’s almost a sensory overload from an eclectic mix of things, but it just feels like an incredible place to slide away into.
Dark Arts really does have a lovely history, with a fantastic base canvas to work from, and I was excited to see if we can really bring it up to what it felt like it could be.
How will you juggle time between your Brisbane bar Streetcorner Jimmy, Element Bar and Dark Arts?
It took me a few years to get there after opening Element Bar, but feel I have a nice pattern between Brisbane and Coffs now. I pretty much split my time between both, perhaps a little more in Coffs (but who wouldn’t, right?)
That said, juggling isn’t even remotely possible without an incredible team of people in each place. I’m ridiculously lucky to have cracking teams in each place that all have a passion for what they do and genuinely know it’s their place as much as mine. They really are the people who make each place so unique and give them a soul.
That said, I do actually miss each place when I’m not there. I feel so lucky to have businesses I really love, with incredible customers and a bunch of wonderful people to be surrounded by, so it always feels like home working in any of them.
I also do tend to get very twitchy if I’m not constantly doing something, so always being busy is something I enjoy and need. Add to that, I’m a perfectionistic, OCD-riddled semi-control freak (I am learning constantly to slowly let go!) so I’m never too long away from any of the places adjusting things, learning what we can change and be better at constantly (not to mention lining bottles and labels up properly, because all of my staff are basically bottle slobs and will one day go to Hell!).
When is Dark Arts open for customers?
We’re open Sunday to Thursday, 6:30 am to 3:30 pm and 6:30 am to 10:30 pm Friday and Saturday.
We’re also available for private functions on the other nights of the week.
Happy hour is 4:58 pm to 6:31 pm every Friday and Saturday, and we whack on some nice cruisy live music every Friday and Saturday nights at 7 pm, as well as Sundays at 9:30 am for a Sunday Brekky Session.
Where can people find out more and keep up to date with what’s happening at Dark Arts Brew & Bar?