Belles Hot Chicken Barangaroo returns to its neighborhood restaurant roots with a retro refresh

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When Belles Hot Chicken opened in Melbourne’s Fitzroy in 2014, it looked like a recipe for success: Nashville-style fried chicken, natural wine and two top chefs. And it was – the restaurant, founded by Morgan McGlone (Sunday) and Aaron Turner (Igni), has expanded to multiple locations in Melbourne and as far as Sydney. And although its founding chefs have left the company and there are only two restaurants left in each city – in Sydney they are in Barangaroo and Forest Lodge’s Tramsheds – this spicy chicken restaurant is still going strong.

Now, Sydney’s original Belles, which opened in Barangaroo in 2016, has been given a facelift in a bid to bring it back to its neighborhood restaurant roots. The canteen-style setup remains, but designer Vicki Punch (Grana, Lana) took inspiration from ’70s American restaurants, lining the walls and counter with vintage brown wood paneling and tile, installing shiny chrome lighting and replacing the wood. tables for long tables covered in tiles with accompanying stools. For new owner Joss Jenner-Leuthart, the revamp isn’t about launching a new version of Belles — rather, it’s an effort to realign the restaurant with its roots.

“In my mind, we’re growing Belles where it always should have been growing – the home of comfort,” said Jenner-Leuthart, a New Zealand-born restaurateur and self-described Belles “fanboy.” Large format. “We quietly got rid of places that didn’t fit our vision of getting back to the roots of our neighborhood – like in Darling Square in Sydney – and slowly renovated our existing homes… to claim the place of comfort food, comfort drinks , neighborhood hospitality and positive vibes.”

Piping the speakers is Belles Hot Radio, which broadcasts live from Paris to each Belles room. It is in collaboration with the DJ Etienne Tron, the founder of the French radio station Secousse. “It’s a little disco, a little soul, a touch of hip-hop and rap, even a little house and wild in the evening, but guaranteed feel-good vibes at all times,” says Jenner-Leuthart, making hinting at future in-place live sets.

For now, the menu remains the same – this crispy fried chicken with your choice of heat level (including original, hot, “really hot” and “really hot**”) is the centerpiece, with sides like fries, potatoes and gravy, and mac’n’cheese. There’s also the famous 16-wing Belles Bucket with your choice of spiciness, four sides and four sauces, plus a spicy chicken sandwich.

The drinks menu, however, has been “significantly increased” according to Jenner-Leuthart, with its expanded natural wine list. It’s packed with mostly Australian glasses from makers such as Gentle Folk, The Other Right, Momento Mori and Das Juice, as well as a handful of bottles from France’s Beaujolais region and Italy. There are also new boozy slushies, including a version inspired by whiskey and coke, as well as a beer brewed with Adelaide’s Pirate Life.

“Belles was born in a Fitzroy restaurant,” says Jenner-Leuthart. “The original Belles Fitzroy vibe was pure block party. A hangout, a place to mess around – more than just a place to bang the chicken. Spinning vinyl and disco ball, hot chicken and booze on the side equal, low-light, high-energy, and absolutely unassuming – just pure, pure indulgence. A small diner, a small American, a small Fitzroy.

Lovely Hot Chicken Barangaroo
5/33 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo

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