Belleville is not a bar; but it’s not really a restaurant either. The hybrid venue is a little bit of everything, offering a hidden spot where locals can hang out for half an hour, or half a day, chowing down on rotisserie chicken or throwing back a cocktail or two.
Opening in 2015, Belleville is the latest venture from the Office of Public Works team, who also own Ferdydurke, Section 8 and B.East. Just like its city-based siblings, it’s not exactly easy to find – a glance down Globe Alley reveals a sign sticking out from the wall. Once you make it to the entrance and head on up the stairs, a huge bohemian space reveals itself, dominated by a semi-circular bar. A mural by American artist, Mike Giant, is splayed over a section of wall, continuing the green theme set by the crumbling paint and an abundance of plant life.
Global award winning bartender Andy Griffiths, (ex-Cookie, Rum Diary and Section 8) is the creative mind behind Belleville’s new cocktail offerings. Inspired by exceptional Australian craft spirits and native botanicals, Andy has crafted a list that not only complements the existing food options, but showcases the unique flavours of Australia. A range of cocktails from classic and elegant to rambunctiously complex can be found at any hour.
The other side of the Belleville experience lies in the kitchen, where a huge Brazilian rotisserie turns out perfectly roasted free-range chooks. Group Executive Chef, Jarrod Moore, and Head Chef, Sailesh ‘Slash’ Vala, are responsible for making sure every one of the 90 chickens is cooked flawlessly. Luckily, they are more than qualified to do so – Jarrod has 10 years of kitchen experience in everything from CBD fine diners to Fitzroy dive bars, while Sailesh came to Belleville after a stint at Trunk Diner.
Seasoned with sea salt and pepper or glazed with miso butter, each chicken comes served as quarter, half or whole, and is paired with a sauce of your choice, ranging from mild to ‘hot as f#@k’. From there, the floor is yours in terms of sides: there’s maple miso greens served with toasted black sesame, or chargrilled watermelon to keep things fresh.
Belleville has also developed a reputation for bringing a Canadian delicacy, poutine, to Melburnians, popping a different combination of fries, cheese, gravy and hot sauce on the specials board each week. If that sounds a little too heavy for your liking, the Mean ‘n’ Clean part of the menu offers lighter options, such as pan-seared Japanese scallops, served with a miso sweetcorn puree and chicken crack shards.
It’s not just eats and drinks that get the team at Belleville going – beats are also given equal priority. Fridays and Saturdays see the main bar area cleared of tables and the dance floor started, with a selection of the menu available until 1am.
In opening Belleville, Owner Maz Salt wanted to re-create the dive bar experience he’d found in Paris, providing a local spot for people to come and hang out. With a little help, he’s done just that, creating a space for eating, drinking and dancing the night away.