Tucked away in what is formally known as the ‘Harlem’ end of Smith Street, The Bell Jar is re-inventing the way smaller cafes produce amazing food and coffee.
Owner Stuart Filmer, a former shop fitter who has worked on numerous cafes around Melbourne (including the iconic St. Ali), wanted his vision of the perfect café to become reality — a café where locals could come to relax and recharge with great food and coffee, whether round the large communal table, or out in the ‘coffee garden’ enjoying the rare Melbourne sun.
Head chef Ian Ballantyne produces amazing food, and with a menu that changes continuously, there is always something new and exciting to try. A sure favourite is the sweet ricotta hotcakes. The flavour changes slightly each time you order, and whether it’s the caramelised banana or seasonal fruit compote, it’s safe to say that it will always hit the spot perfectly. Ian is not only a wizard in the kitchen, but also spins a good yarn (several at the same time usually). Have a chat with him if he’s not busy.
The Bell Jar has a few different options for coffee. If you like a white with one takeaway, The Bell Jar chose the Synesso Sabre two group to make that ‘ordinary’ coffee into something extraordinary. For the house blend, The Bell Jar has decided to cater to broad market tastes with Five Senses’ Dark Horse blend as the best all-round crowd pleaser. The second option, a recent addition by The Bell Jar crew, is the French press of a single origin which will change every few weeks. Currently the single origin is the Colombian Supremo Bachue.
So if you’re in Clifton Hill enjoying the surrounding parks and pubs, but needing a caffeine hit while still enjoying the sun in a relaxing setting, it has to be The Bell Jar every time.
The Bell Jar
656 Smith Street
Clifton Hill, VIC 3068
Monday — Friday 7:00am — 4:00pm
Saturday — Sunday 8:00am — 4:00pm
Author: Brigette Paterson