Push open the door at Bart Jr and the first thing you'll notice is the welcoming hum of banter. It only takes a quick glance around the room to see that this is a place that lends itself to a long session of good conversations over shared meals, a couple of glasses of wine, or a cocktail or two.
Bart Jr — the second Redfern venue from the Scout's Honour crew — has kept it simple when it comes to the wine list. There's one of everything, all served by the glass, and, for the most part, they're all locally grown and often biodynamic. If you're looking for a red or white to bookend a long day, the Vinteloper Watervale Riesling from the Clare Valley ($11) and the Lethbridge Ménage a Noir Pinot Noir from Geelong ($12) are excellent wines to start with. There's also a number of local craft breweries on rotation on tap and in the fridge.
You may be sat right alongside other diners or even perched next to them on a communal table, but this isn't a boisterous all-in drinking session — while being inclusive, everyone is engrossed in their own worlds. In this way, Bart Jr epitomises the friendly local, right down to the Redfern-focused photography series by a local artist.
This friendliness of sorts even extends to the bar's namesake, which refers to a local and notoriously loose cat named Bart who roams the neighbourhood leaving a trail of lovers behind him. Given that he's inspired genuinely friendly service and food that's made with affection, Bart, we support your lifestyle — and we recommend you down a Dirty Aperol in his honour. Like most of the cocktails on their list, this one takes a classic and adds a Bart Jr twist — in this case, the addition of olive brine brings together the spritz and the martini, giving a new kick to the summer staple.
As we've said, the food here is designed to be shared. Adding some glamour to the light and casual vibe, you'll be using a gold knife and fork to tuck into a plate of sheeps' milk haloumi generously topped with burnt honey, rosemary, currants and hazelnuts ($18). And while this may seem decadent, Bart Jr's menu strikes the balance between being rich and flavourful, but not overpowering. Take the gorgonzola dolce on toasted sourdough ($18) — topped with an abundance of greens, radishes, caramelised onion and fennel, this dish has strong creamy flavours while still keeping it fresh. A must-order.
We recommend chasing your hit of dairy with the beef carpaccio with anchovy cream, pickled onion, fried capers, chives and pine nuts ($22) and the charred brassica in miso and egg yolk ($16), which, rather than just being a veggie side, is a dish unto itself.
It's this next-level bar food, casual seating and dedication to good drinks, that makes Bart Jr a no-brainer for catch-ups with mates.
Images: Katje Ford.