Whitehart review

Melbourne's latest laneway bar features a majestic stag mural.
Melbourne's latest laneway bar features a majestic stag mural. Photo: Jesse Marlow

Whitehart Ln Melbourne, VIC 3000

View map

Opening hours Mon-Wed and Sun noon-11pm; Thu noon-midnight; Fri-Sat noon-1am
Features Bar, Licensed, Outdoor seating
Payments eftpos, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 03 9602 2260

Melbourne is no stranger to shipping container bars. I remember when Section 8 opened on Tattersalls Lane (in 2006 for those of you playing along at home) it was, for a considerable period of time, without a roof. If it rained you either hid in the loo or got wet.

Fast forward to 2017 where husband-and-wife duo Stephen Johnson and Sabrina Santucci's millennial version brings together Melbourne's oldest love (beer) with its newest (food trucks) and plenty of all-weather seating options.

On the ground level you'll be mostly undercover; a high-ceilinged atrium lets in plenty of natural light and there's ample heating in defiance of Melbourne's fickle weather.

Tiki time: the bar's  Bearded Lady cocktail.
Tiki time: the bar's Bearded Lady cocktail. Photo: Jesse Marlow

It's a good mix of luxe and budget. The furniture may be hosed down at the end of the night but the drinks are served in glass, credit cards are happily taken and staff are charming and efficient.

Overheads are kept low by outsourcing the food offering to a rotating selection of food trucks. The excellent Ironbark Artisan Smokers was first cab off the rank, followed by Kraken Squid. If you don't catch the salt and pepper squid van you're not missing much; there are no excuses for pre-packaged mayonnaise in this day and age.

The beer list is an eclectic selection of mostly craft brews with reasonable prices. Thumbs up for Gage Roads, Pirate Life, Stone and Wood and Feral Brewing, thumbs down for Carlsberg but then again, it's good to cater for all tastes.

There's ample heating and cover in defiance of Melbourne's fickle weather.
There's ample heating and cover in defiance of Melbourne's fickle weather. Photo: Jesse Marlow

The cocktails are on trend in theory ... but we hit a few roadblocks. The Poor Tom's Earl Grey Spritz (gin, tea syrup, lemon juice and soda) is on tap, except not if they've run out of lemon juice at 7pm on a Thursday (I did my best not to give the bowl of whole lemons sitting on the bar a sideways glance).

We couldn't order the bourbon and elderflower spritz either as they'd run out of rockmelon (random). It was hardly third time lucky with the Peggy Sour, a tulip glass of vodka, watermelon and lime juice topped with blush sparkling that was not unlike drinking a watermelon-flavoured Lip-Smacker that smelled like baby pink bath soap.

I hate to end on a negative note so I won't. Despite a few teething problems Whitehart is a top spot for a post-work wind down or impressing visitors from out of town. It's so Melbourne it hurts but I'm certain I'll be back.

Pro Tip: Drink Pirate Life's excellent Session IPA if you've got to work in the morning. It's one standard drink per can.

Go-to Dish: Something hand-held from the food truck du-jour. Staff eat here too, it pays to ask for a recommendation.