Over 150 years old, Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Ugly Duckling, is one of transformation and acceptance. It teaches us that perceptions are often wrong and what’s on the inside is far more important than what we see externally. Sophisticated and elegant just like a swan, The Ugly Duckling has graced Richmond with its presence since 2015 and brought an element of class to a strip that was devoid of beautiful spaces to sit and drink quality cocktails and wine.
This is a venue designed with an eye for detail by leading Melbourne design firm Hecker Guthrie to give guests the feeling of being in a high-end residential space. When you enter from the street, it seems immediately dark and brooding yet automatically warmed by a grey marble bar; masculine, yet still relaxed and welcoming. This is the place to sit for that after work drink as you watch the bartenders mix inventive cocktails with a fine range of spirits from the back bar. As you move through to the rear space, you see the transition from little grey duck into beautiful white swan with a stunning light-filled atrium and lots of natural wood, softened by an assortment of indoor plants. You can actually book this area for a function of up to 75 guests and the front bar is available, too, for a more intimate gathering.
While The Ugly Duckling is known for its signature cocktails, the wine list has also been carefully curated with a great selection from both here and overseas to be paired with their food offering, separated into small, medium and large plates. Salumi is sliced to order, and options range from fine cheeses, pate and terrine to mussels, haloumi and salmon gravlax, all designed to share. But if you’re just hankering for chips, nuts or olives to snack on with a drink, that’s on offer, too.
Located on Swan Street near the corner of Church Street, you could easily walk or drive past the bar due to the building’s unassuming facade, but then you would miss out on the actual beauty that lies within. With an air of refinement and confidence, this is Richmond’s Ugly Duckling, one who has truly spread its wings and continues to soar.