Bar Bellamy: First-time bar owners, bring their hospo flair to Carlton

Bar Bellamy – 164 Rathdowne St, Carlton
@bar.bellamy

New venues are exciting – the culmination of hard work, the possibility of what is to come. They are even more exciting when they’re going to be your new local. Rathdowne Street in Carlton/Carlton North is where I get my coffee, my veggies and my salad sandwiches. And now, it’s going to be where I get my knockoff martini. Bar Bellamy is the first foray into venue ownership from partners in life and business, Oska and Dani Whitehart. The name comes from the French ‘bel ami’, meaning good or dear friend, and I have no doubt this bar and its staff will become that to the whole neighbourhood, and those who come from further afield.

The pair have impeccable hospitality credentials. Oska has honed his bartending skills at quality-focused venues Bad Frankie, The Everleigh and Gimlet, while Dani’s smiley demeanour has graced the front of house at iconic Melbourne cafes Archie’s All Day, Sibling and Loafer. They are warm and welcoming, an attribute which has been passed on to their venue. “We want the space to feel familiar. As you sit at the bar and look around the room we hope you reminisce about past holidays, memorable wild nights where you just ‘stumbled upon that little bar’ much like this one”.

Clever design has helped with this – it is simple and sleek, but homely and it makes the most of the historical features of the building. The seating is a mixture of bar stools (both at the bar and in the window to watch the world go by), cosy booths and communal tables. Beautiful lighting and art choices help to cultivate a feel that is quintessentially Melbourne but also old-world, as does the outside pavement space which captures the evening light.

The pair have impeccable hospitality credentials. Oska has honed his bartending skills at quality-focused venues Bad Frankie, The Everleigh and Gimlet, while Dani’s smiley demeanour has graced the front of house at iconic Melbourne cafes Archie’s All Day, Sibling and Loafer. They are warm and welcoming, an attribute which has been passed on to their venue.

The food leans into the charming European feel. Chef Barney Cohen (ex Añada and Nómada) is on the pans, creating a menu which will change weekly to capture the best of what’s in season. Coming from Spanish-focused venues, the man knows his way around a croquette and the mussel ones at Bar Bellamy are a highlight – creamy bechamel and chopped mussels scooped back into the shell and crumbed for a decadent treat. He’ll also be reimagining classics like devilled eggs and chicken liver parfait cannoli.

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Oska will, of course, be overseeing the bar programme. Building on his grounding in classics (anyone who has had the pleasure of sitting at his bar in previous venues knows his skillset in this regard), he plans to incorporate seasonal, homemade ingredients for fun twists – think