Hospitality that hits the mark – Oche opens in Fortitude Valley
Limber up your throwing arm – a brand-new analogue social experience has arrived in Brisbane and it is looking to reinvigorate an age-old classic. Oche – pronounced ‘ockey’ – is Fortitude Valley’s newest watering hole, but this spot is so much more than just a bar. The Oslo-born concept is giving the game of darts a modern polish, creating a lively hub where punters can get competitive with pals over a game while enjoying local brews, salivation-worthy cocktails and one-handed fare conceived by some fine-dining wizards. Oche officially opens tomorrow, Saturday December 7, but we’ve got a first-look for you right now …
The Oche story starts half a world away in Oslo, where a group of enterprising individuals came up with the idea of a modernised darts bar where folks could gather to test their aim while savouring an array of brews and bites. Launching in 2018, the concept proved to be a bona fide hit and soon ownership started weighing up the potential of going for a second bullseye – this time in the Australian market. The first point of order was finding the right person on the ground to help forge inroads into Australia – enter Dafydd Evans. The Welsh-born entrepreneur is no stranger to the concept of giving old-school pub sports a modern makeover – Dafydd is the brains behind SHUFL, a shuffleboard company that has helped propagate a new wave of interest in the game across Europe. Dafydd has relocated to Brisbane to oversee Oche Australia, putting feet to pavement in search of the ideal venue for the brand’s first (of hopefully many) locations. After inspecting several potential candidates, Dafydd was shown a gorgeous space located in the 115-year-old Old Flour Mill building in Fortitude Valley. Previously housing craft-beer bar The Mill on Constance, the rustic interior was the ideal setting for the Oche vibe – with plenty of elbow room for dart slinging, beer sipping and one-handed snacking.
The space and games
Soon after securing the space in August, Dafydd and his team got to work making it suitable for gaming. Aside from a completely new kitchen, the venue’s bones have remained untouched – the stunning brickwork remains, as do the wooden floorboards. A neighbouring office space has been secured for extra room, transformed to match the Old Flour Mill’s aesthetic. Entering from Constance Street, guests are greeted by a check-in desk and the first of two bars. Here you’ll glimpse the first of Oche’s authentic darts booths – illuminated playing boards surrounded by high tables, plush banquettes and screens. Using software developed in house, the Oche darts experience is unlike traditional analogue set ups. Don’t be mistaken – these are real dart boards and you’ll be throwing real darts, however, three cameras are equipped to each board, responsible for tracking the flight path and landing point of each dart thrown, collating and relaying results to the computerised system and screens above. Once you check in, a floor host will show you to your assigned booth, log you in and get your team (anywhere from two to 12 players) set up to play. Once processed, you’ll have your choice of 14 games, ranging from simple high-score matches to traditional darts games. Depending on the size of your group, each game takes roughly 10 minutes, with bookings running for a total of 85 minutes. When not playing, you’re welcome to explore the rest of the space, which includes the main bar in the central room, a leafy lounge space at the rear complete with Chesterfield sofas, and the flower-laden cocktail terrace, which boasts a couple of SHUFL boards and spots to lounge about, drink in hand.
The food and drink
Dafydd and his team have put a lot of thought into Oche’s food offering, determining that it needed to be functional (as in, could be eaten in one hand without the need for cutlery) and several notches above standard bar snacks, quality wise. Oche’s menu has been crafted by none other than Brisbane culinary superstar Ben Williamson (22 Agnes, formerly of Gerard’s Bistro), who has taken the brief and ran with it. Alongside hatted chef Tom Swapp (Spirit House, Pony Dining) at the helm as head chef, Ben has conceived some truly mouth-watering morsels perfect for sharing, such as salt-blocked cobia (diced raw cobia served on a pink salt block with soft flour tortillas on the side), tacos (stuffed with your choice of wagyu tartare, pan-seared Queensland scallop, Thai chicken or smoked eggplant), chilli-peanut chicken buns, fried whole squid with n’duja aioli, fried school prawns with tom yum dust, charred lamb cutlets, an eight-strong selection of pizzas and large share boards. The drink selection has also been finely curated to be above average. The Seasonal Bar at the entry is equipped with bottoms-up beer systems, and will serve beverages from a different local brew master, wine maker or distiller every month, starting with Green Beacon Brewing Co. The main bar is where you’ll find a selection of craft and mainstream beers, a curated selection of wines, upscale first-pour spirits, premium G&Ts, on-ice spritzes and cocktails (the signature raspberry sour is a crowd favourite in Oslo).
Oche officially opens on Saturday December 7. For opening hours and contact details, head to the Stumble Guide.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.