Hyperlocal news about Melbourne's first suburb: Fitzroy 3065

breakfast at the Bell Jar, Smith St Clifton Hill


The Bell Jar is a cute new cafe on the edge of Clifton Hill on Smith St between Alexandra and Queens Parades. First review respect goes to Douglas and Hope, closely followed by Vetti, and I was keen to try it as soon as possible given their positive comments. In the space formerly occupied by an eclectic furniture and objets shop, next door to John Howard’s favourite brothel, the Bell Jar is a terrace that has been gutted to create three main spaces – the front room with several tables and the kitchen area (below), a central room with a large communal table, and a rear porch and courtyard.

I sat in the front room and ordered the tomatoes with Meredith feta and pesto on toast, which was delicious and the perfect light breakfast (below). One long macchiato followed another as I found the first so good that I wanted more.

What I like most about the Bell Jar is that it has genuine atmosphere, which is something that it is difficult or impossible to simply manufacture. It comes from the operators having their own sense of style, and from having a good idea who their customers are and what they may like.

The Bell Jar has few immediate competitors. Like Foxy Brown in Northcote, it may do well simply by finding a geographic niche of its own close to the homes of many cafe loving inner northerners. But moreso I think it will draw people who also love Mixed Business, Min Lokal, Cibi, Provenance and other quality cafes within walking distance. The Bell Jar is a lovely addition to the inner north cafe scene.


  1. I agree with this review – this place does have a nice feel and is owned/run by people who clearly care about what they do. Still very new, so can be a bit slow when busy (e.g., weekends). Food and coffee are great though and prices seem fair. More pram and people friendly than the much maligned Dexters. Interesting to see what impact a cafe full of people has on the patrons of the brothel next door.

  2. Nice place. Just had breakfast there. Excellent coffee. I had potted eggs on white beans and fennel sausage. ‘Twas very tasty. I also stuffed down their ricotta cakes with honeycomb and bananas. Excellent !
    I had a quick chat to ‘Stu’ on the way out and he was very pleased with the way his cafe was shaping up.
    For dog owners, they are looking at at putting seats on footpath, and if you have small dogs, you can CARRY them through the cafe to courtyard at back.

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