Strange things are happening on Swan Street and the latest instalment may be the best named restaurant in 2015. What was an ugly duckling from both a visual and culinary perspective is turning itself around 180 degrees to become the hottest street in Melbourne, possibly Australia.
Even a couple of years ago, a concept like Ugly Duckling would have little chance of surviving. Here we have a beautifully renovated rectangular room that is reminiscent of Long Island luxury, made for having a snack and /or a drink or two.
It is not a bar in the traditional sense for Australia, especially for Richmond which is dominated by pubs made for pre/during/post matches in Melbourne Park. It is pre or post dinner, way home from work, casual in every way, except for the crowd which is flocking in huge numbers.
Tonight it takes us a good fifteen minutes to be seated. The wine by the glass list is interesting and lengthy as you would expect given the focus, and there are plenty of other options for all tastes, including cocktails. The ‘small’ salumi plate is surprisingly generous and reasonably priced, presented in attractive fashion, and providing a terrific accompaniment to the wine.
Dramatic changes in a short space of time make Swan Street one of the most exciting strips to visit this year and perhaps Ugly Duckling signals the most dramatic of those changes.