A modern take on a classic American icon
The word diner evokes images of a streamlined stainless steel encased building with a prominent counter top, floor mounted stools, leather booths with formica table tops and a jukebox (a waitress on roller skates if you want to get really kitsch). But Belle’s Diner, the latest addition to Gertrude Street’s already tempting selection of eateries, is a modern take on this classic American icon.
Inspired by diners from the 20s and 30s, owners Reno Pontonio and Bridget Absalom-Wong opted for an organic fit out using warm timber and natural woods throughout, with contrasting white tiles; the curved ceiling above the back wall pays homage to diners of the day, as does the ever lit Diner sign that proudly hangs behind the bar.
‘We wanted to open a good place to eat as opposed to somewhere to go out to dinner,’ Bridget says. ‘Somewhere that is comfortable, relaxed … not fine dining.’
Catriona Freeman, fresh from a visit to New York where she had a stage at Five Leaves in Williamsburg, has put together a menu of tempting American favourites – there’s Country Ham and Cheese Biscuits for breakfast, Pulled Pork with Coleslaw from noon and Southern Fried Chicken, First Lady Ribs, Three Bean Chilli with cornbread and sour cream. Be sure to leave room for pie.
John Chalker can be found manning the bar which offers a concise list of local wines along with some quality liquor. Cocktail specials are offered but we recommend asking for the mint julep, a southern favourite.
Where: 150-156 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Phone: 03 9077 0788
Open: Tues-Fri 8am-11pm, Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 10am-11pm