Belle’s Hot Chicken has finally opened on Swan Street, and co-owner Morgan McGlone is pretty happy about it.

“This is such a great site,” says McGlone. “It’s so close to the ‘G, the train station, the Corner Hotel – I mean, last year one of my favourite artists of all time played there, Pokey LaFarge. He loves the South. If we’d been open then, he definitely would have come and had fried chicken.”

The Richmond store is a little sleeker and brighter than the one in Fitzroy. McGlone, with partners Miranda Campbell and Reno Pontonio, had the advantage this time of starting from scratch – unlike when they took over Belle’s Diner on Gertrude Street. There’s a similar aesthetic at both stores, but Richmond uses more raw timber and polished concrete.

The core menu is the same in Richmond as it is in Fitzroy – and will be in Sydney, once it settles on a permanent site there. Pick your meat, pick your spice level (Southern, mild, or Really F**kin Hot), pick your sides and your sauce. Chicken- or fish-stuffed sandwiches, once only a Fitzroy special, are now permanent fixtures.

Peter Jo (aka “Kimchi Pete”) is looking after the “dranks” list. Like Fitzroy, the wines are all natural, but unlike Fitzroy, they won’t be flogging magnums.

“Fitzroy is more about large groups of people, and large-format wines. Richmond we expect will be smaller groups. We also expect to do a lot of takeaway. So while we have a really fucking great wine list here, we think Richmond will be less about wine than Fitzroy,” says McGlone.

Non-wine options include cans of Melbourne Bitter and Moritz, a special Belle’s Lager made in collaboration with Coopers, and Brooklyn Lager on tap. There are also Southern-style cocktails; house-made cardamom lemonade; sweet iced tea; and other soft drinks.

In sadder news, the team has also announced the closure of Bar Clarine, Fitzroy’s adjoining natural-wine bar. The last service will be on March 10.

“Bar Clarine is like my clubhouse, I love it, and I’m proud of it,” says McGlone. “But we need to concentrate on making Belle’s the best it can be. We’re putting Bar Clarine on ice – for now.”

The space will be turned into a private dining room.

McGlone also announced this week he’ll take over the Hotel Harry kitchen in Sydney’s Surry Hills, for the remainder of this year. The Sydney project will be completely separate from McGlone's work at Belle's, and is purely a passion project for the chef.

“Steve Austin from Bar Clarine will be my head chef up there, but I’ll curate everything, from the ground-floor restaurant and the bar menu, to the hotel’s room service and mini bars,” says McGlone.

“It’ll be my food – things I’ve learnt from working with Sean Brock at Husk in Nashville. A celebration of Southern ingredients … it’s a fucking great space.”

Belle’s Hot Chicken
107 Swan Street, Richmond

Hours
Sun to Thu 12pm–10pm
Fri & Sat 12pm–late

belleshotchicken.com