Bar Bellamy: where good friends come together
Although Rathdowne St’s latest cocktail bar and bistro is Oska and Dani Whitehart’s first hospitality venture together, it has quickly become a stalwart destination for Carlton locals.
Deriving its name from the French phrase “bel ami” meaning “good friend”, Bar Bellamy feels exactly that.
Despite only opening just shy of four months ago, Oska and Dani have already created a unique space that celebrates “community and togetherness”.
“We wanted more of a neighbourhood spot, especially after the pandemic,” Dani said.
“It’s about bringing the community back into hospitality and having a warm space where you can meet new people or bring your old friends.”
With Oska’s impressive cocktail background (Gimlet, The Everleigh, Bad Frankie) and Dani’s café expertise (Loafer Bread, Sibling, Archie’s All Day), the husband-and-wife duo have poured their “heart and soul” into Bar Bellamy, and it certainly shows.
“We’d been wanting to open something together for years,” Dani said.
“At first we wanted to do something that was day and night to combine our two loves, but when we found this spot it just leant itself so much more to a night-time space.”
A regularly rotating menu ensures that Oska and Dani can “bring forward seasonal produce” in everything they do, from the food to the drinks list. Their house version of a Tom Collins infused with blood orange in three different ways (Oska will explain the rest) is the latest wintry example.
“It’s all about quality; because we are operating it ourselves, it’s very curated,” Oska said.
“For example, the wine list we rotate pretty quickly and that’s from wines that we taste and think, ‘that’s delicious, I want to showcase that’.”
The food is no different, with “nostalgic European” snacks on offer such as devilled eggs with anchovy or larger plates of coq au vin; available all the way through until 12:30am.
It’s clear that “Bellamy” means more to the space than just the name of the business. The idea of friendship weaves its way into every aspect of Bar Bellamy, from communal tables to encourage conversation, to Oska and Dani even bringing their own friends into the fun.
“We designed it ourselves with help from one of our friends who’s an architect,” Oska told Inner City News.
“Another one of our friends did the stained glass that’s along the feature wall and she works here too; we even went to high school with the head chef.”
While the Rathdowne strip has a long history of well-established local spots, Oska and Dani said that their neighbours and the community have been “so bloody lovely and welcoming” throughout the journey.
“I think the big thing people keep saying is that Rathdowne Village has been such a hub for a while, but there’s still so many good venues down this end; I hope we’re joining them,” Dani said.
“You can have Italian one night or Sri Lankan the next or Chinese or Thai or Japanese or Pakistani; it’s such a melting pot which is great,” Oska added.
As well as being the new local favourite, Bar Bellamy has impressed people Australia-wide, receiving five nominations in the 2023 Bar Awards to be held on September 13. Dani is up for Host of the Year, with the venue also being nominated for New Bar of the Year, Best Bar Food, Small Bar of the Year, and Bar of the Year in the Victorian category.
While the food and drinks could easily stand on their own, an experience is made even more special when the people serving you are just as passionate about providing you with a good time as you are about having a good time.
Bar Bellamy is warm, reliable, comforting and fun - just as a good friend often is.
Bar Bellamy is located at 164 Rathdowne St and is open from 5pm to 1am on Wednesday through to Saturday, as well as from 2pm to “stumps” on Sundays. •
For more information: barbellamy.com