Bar 399

The bar at 399 Bloody Mary @ 399

Small bars, small bars, small bars.

Perth is awash with them of late. You’d almost think they’d sprung up overnight in a flurry of activity caused by the state government lovingly embracing the community and doling out liquor licenses like they were sewing corn into a big fertile paddock.

Of course the reality of the situation is pretty different. Most of the small bars that have opened in Perth recently have been a long time in the making. Legislation changes that were supposed to make it easier to apply for and be granted a small bar license, and thus be able stay open til midnight during the week and to serve drinks without food, have not exactly come to fruition the way the general public would have expected.

It’s been a long and often arduous road for the majority of these venues to get off the ground, jumping through hoops like training monkeys hoping not to have their bananas confiscated. Only to be rewarded with yet more trials and ordeals. I for one, however, am glad that those people persist in the face of inexplicable bureaucracy, or we wouldn’t have such interesting new venues like Bar 399 to tickle our collective fancies.

It’s situated at the top end of William Street next to one of my favourite Vietnamese restaurants, in a fairly nondescript location, that’s slowly building in potential for educated winers and diners out for a good time. The concept is simple, a small space with a bar down one side, booths down the other. A regularly changing wine list that isn’t based on any one distributor, bespoke cocktails from a group of experienced bar tenders, and a nightly meal of just one selection.

ECM ReflectionsNat serving at 399Havana Club at 399The bar at 399399 manager NatEspresso at 399Cheshire AlexNorthbridge styleratiHavana, where jazz musicans congregateBen n Jen at 399Bloody Mary @ 399Bloody Mary @ 399

The hook that got me in however was the master stroke of bacon and egg rolls and Bloody Marys served on a Sunday morning. $15 for a thick roll filled with lashings of bacon and a fried egg or two, and a peppery but piquant Bloody Mary is as fine a way to start a day as I can think of… A classy hair of the dog that even temporarily took the place of my dim sum ritual, which is a formidable opponent to almost everything.

I think it’s time to start rediscovering your city through the eyes of some of these venues. Perth is not, and will probably never be… Melbourne, but the more venues like this that open up, and the more people who start to build a following behind them, the better off we’ll all be.

Bar 399
399 William St, Northbridge

399 Bar on Urbanspoon


9 thoughts on “Bar 399”

  1. Hey Matt,

    Noted – Was chatting to Talmage Anderson (while he was pouring coffee at West End Deli), he’s about to open Ezra Pound on William St – a ‘1930s-inspired speakeasy’. No idea whether the doors are actually open – might have a gander over the weekend.

  2. Hey Dan, Cheers for the comment. I’ve been keeping an ear out for Ezra Pound stuff since reading about it in that West Australian article (a first for news in Perth). It’ll be an interesting spot too, down that laneway off William St. I’m wondering how much of the usual Northbridge crowd will catch on… Hopefully none.

    Things are looking good for quirky bars all over Perth lately.

  3. Had a nice coffee there the other day, their menu looks good but will have to pass on that for now.

    It was hard passing on stuffed mushrooms and chorizo ;)

  4. While I’ve only to been to 399 once, with my fiancé and our 6 month old girl (and the Errol Flynn of the blogging world aka Matt), I was blown away by the bartender going out of his way to see if we needed a baby seat. I mean, we normally just leave her in the car while we go to bars, but not anymore!

    Oh, by the way, Melbourne, Melbourne, Melbourne.

  5. A great review and insight into hidden difficulties of opening a venue in WA, not something many are aware of…

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