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Bar 399

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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.

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


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9 Responses to “Bar 399” (9,378 views)

  1. yay! good to see you online for bar 399. Nice review

    August 11, 2009 at 6:00 pm Reply
  2. Dan

    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.

    August 12, 2009 at 3:35 pm Reply
  3. 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.

    August 12, 2009 at 6:28 pm Reply
  4. Great review. 399 Bar has become our Monday night social life (Monday is vego day at 399) and we’ve taken a few snaps there too. We have been stalker-level fans of this team of cocktail obsessives for years (ex Luxe Bar). Our pics:

    September 15, 2009 at 1:48 am Reply
  5. 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 ;)

    September 18, 2009 at 7:03 pm Reply
  6. Mike

    Good little bar in a great location.
    Nice review, but the obligatory reference to Melbourne was lame…

    January 4, 2010 at 9:01 am Reply
  7. Brad

    While I’ve only to been to 399 once, with my fiancÚ 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.

    January 5, 2010 at 9:05 am Reply
  8. Sam

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

    April 3, 2011 at 1:17 am Reply

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