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First look inside Dusty Knuckle’s new restaurant ‘Dark’

Based in one of Cardiff’s historic Victorian arcades, DARK will nod to Dusty Knuckle’s roots.

The team behind an award-winning Cardiff pizzeria have opened brand-new restaurant in the city centre.

Those familiar with Dusty Knuckle name, know they are renowned for their wood-fired pizzas and family friendly environment. However, DARK is a completely new venture for the husband and wife team.

Dusty Knuckle founders Phill & Deb Lewis

DARK will nod to Dusty Knuckle’s roots by including a few new pizzas on the menu, but the focus will be on bolder choices and experimental flavours, with a ‘nose to tail’ ethos playing a big part.

Well, if you’re going to kill the whole animal? Why not…

Phill Lewis hard at work in the new restaurant

The menu at DARK offers a range of interesting concepts for you to try. Everything from flatbreads and kebabs, to pizzas to small plates. The kebab menu includes lamb offal kebabs with pickled pinks, yoghurt, fermented oil and parsley; through to tempura cauliflower with sesame, aioli and house-recipe slaw.

Tempura cauliflower with sesame, aioli and house-recipe slaw kebab.

Cauliflower isn’t my most favourite of vegetables, but this kebab was absolutely delicious. The bread is something else altogether too. Fresh ingredients, fresh flavours…

Lamb offal kebabs with pickled pinks, yoghurt, fermented oil and parsley.

The lamb offal kebab was also bursting with flavour and was by far my favourite. You could feel a mild heat, but I stress it was very mild and should’t put you off from giving it a go.

Talking of trying new things, we were served these little bites below to try (sorry, I’ve forgotten the official name!). These were made from ox heart – not what I would usually go for, I must admit, but like the others, these were full of flavour and had a smooth texture.

However, that’s the fun and point of it, the restaurant wants you to try new things. DARK is full of surprises and I’m yet to scratch the surface of what this place has to offer.

Photographer Conor Elliott captures community spirit during lockdown
These little bites were made from ox heart.

Though the new restaurant represents a different direction for Dusty Knuckle, DARK will continue the brand’s long-standing commitment to sustainability, and will source almost exclusively from local, independent, and high-welfare suppliers. As a result, the menu is likely to change regularly, led by what’s available seasonally and what trusted suppliers recommend.

A pared-down ‘on the go’ menu of £5 kebabs will also be served from the hatch at the side of the premises at 42 Castle Arcade, continuing a tradition that was brought in by the former owners, Café Minuet, more than 40 years ago.

Dusty Knuckle is one of Cardiff’s biggest pop-up-to-permanent success stories. Having started life selling pizza from a homemade oven at local markets in 2014, the award-winning outfit has gone from strength to strength. With permanent sites in Cardiff and Pembrokeshire, the portfolio also includes a pitch at Ogmore-By-Sea, a pop-up element which caters for festivals, and an ongoing refurbishment project in a former park warden’s house (opening early 2020).

Despite having made a name for serving some of the best pizza in the South, Dusty Knuckle’s new restaurant ‘DARK’ will take the brand in a new direction, inviting customers to ‘discover their dark side’.