When you think about the nightlife in Richmond you used to think pubs and grimey cafes. Within the last year and a half, Swan Street has turned the consensus on its head with the opening of The Ugly Duckling, Beer & Burger Bar, the upgrade to Richmond Club and a number of fucking fab restaurants opening up. Now it welcomes The Palm Royale into the fold with open arms.
There has been two very well established bars in the space (but this isn’t about them) before the team from Kid Boston / Jungle Boy moved in. You have been here before but it was definitely not what it is now. The Palm Royale still employs the same 'speakeasy' techniques with their locked gate and a buzzer- if you were to walk by you would think that the venue itself is Pablo Escobar’s front porch and you’ll have to do a double take to realize that it is actually a drinking hole.
Hit that buzzer. One of the crew will gladly open the gate for you. As you walk over the front porch you will smell the aromas of cigars on a summer night. Heck yes, they sell cigars over the freakin’ bar. You will be tantalised by the front porch on entry but you can come back later with a cigar! All y’all want is to see what this intriguing bar holds.
Step through the doorway into retro 1950’s Cuba. Holy shit this place would make Castro touch himself. The first thing you see is a beautiful tropical rattan screen that will guide you to the stunning padded barfront. This place will transport you the hell away from the daily grind and make you feel as though you’re on a bloody holiday. The back bar, is STACKED. These guys have worked with rum from day one so you know that they know their shit when it comes to the pirate lord’s gift to the Earth.
“It's a Cuban inspired cocktail bar taking influences from the prohibition era cocktails that were created by bartenders in Havana after they fled the states." says general manager David Denton. "So we'll be emulating that party vibe those venues created with fun & vibrate drinks as well as offering a large rum selection to enjoy in our lavishly designed space.”
With their twists on the Cuba Libre and a Negroni on tap, you will want to stay here all bloody night. Along side is a rotating craft beer selection to die for. As mentioned before, these people have been working tiki and rum since day dot so their cocktail menu is next level.
If you can tear yourself away from the bar for 5 minutes, head up into the lounge and chill with your mates. If your cartel of 20 are hangin’ off of you then this is the space to be. Live greenery with hidden creatures is our jam! Feeling over watered? Follow Flamingo Alley down to the washrooms. It’s not like us to mention washrooms but holy heck, ring-lights and engraved taps. The design in this joint is fucking phenomenal.
Now that you’ve had your adventure time, grab a Cuban Missile Crisis and a Romeo y Julieta cigar from Dean Jarvis and head out front. You didn’t pay too much attention to the beautiful setting en route to the bar did you? It is to die for. You will be smoking cigars and downing cocktails until stumps (1am).
Tiki done fucking right. Well done guys!
The Palm Royale
438 Church Street, Richmond
Wednesday - Sunday
5pm - 1am
Two Wrongs is a strange and magical place situated underneath The Olsen on Chapel Street. If you were to wander by on any given eve you would see some very colourful characters perched on the outdoor dining set-ups sipping on some even more elaborate drinks. Curiosity will pull you through the front doors of Two Wrongs if not anything else.
You'll be greeted by one of the lovely boys situated behind what looks like a mad bag lady's shopping cart and he'll give you the spiel on the strange wonderland that you have ventured in to. Before you head to get a table I would go on an adventure through the space to get the lay of the land because this place is huge and hides some awesome nooks & crannies.
If you are an avid wanderer then make your way through the blacklit restaurant, past the stairs and you will find my favourite hang-out; the games room. Two Wrongs has a Nintendo 64 with a myriad of games hooked up to a projector situated in front of a overly comfortable vintage couch, perfect for Mario Kart tournaments over a bottle of pinot gris (or 5). Not keen on video games? That's cool, they also have a pool table behind the couch so you can still yell at your mate when they get taken out on the racecourse.
Meander past the kitchen and you might see the familiar face of Paul Turner (ex Cutler & Co.) chef cooking up a mad gastronomic twist on Southern style chicken waffles and your mouth will start watering. Hold back your hunger because the adventure isn't over.
Upstairs you will find a full bar as well as four private booths. Perfect for getting away on a busy Friday night with a close group of friends. The view from upstairs is perfect for people watching.
Back downstairs at their main bar you will always find the dynamic duo Calum Wright (ex Magic Mountain) and Kyle Karmitzos (ex Maeve Fox) mixing up a storm. With the knowledge behind these two madmen, head chef Paul Turner and owner/operator Zac Riggs you can only expect the best looking cocktail list this side of the Yarra. Cocktails not your thing? That's cool... They've got over 50 tinned beers in the fridge.
Now that you've got a drink in your hand, take a gander at the food on the menu. My go to meal is start with the Octopus which comes with braised lettuce, daikon & seaweed butter and get the Beef & Broccoli dish as your main. Be prepared for a shock when it comes out, the food here is in a league of it's own.
"It's ghetto food with a fine dining twist. Kind of bringing a bit of Brooklyn to South Yarra." says co-owner and operator Zac. Between Zac and his business partner, Isaac Constantine the two have over fifteen years experience in the hospitality industry and are always striving to push the boundaries.
So... If you are up for a wild adventure with some of the most creative food and drinks going around then make it a night at Two Wrongs, because sometimes two wrongs can make a right.
637 Chapel Street, South Yarra
(03) 9827 4510
Wed to Sun 5:00 pm - 1:00 am
Photography by Joshua Myles
As you enter through the double fronted glass doors you will be stunned by the beautifully designed main bar. The divergence of light and dark meet perfectly in the middle creating a welcoming sense which will make you want to stay forever and people watch from the tremendous front window.
As you venture further past the bar you will be greeted and seated as The Ugly Duckling offers full table service, which will again keep you there enjoying the drinks and food for hours on end. "The Atrium" as they call it is set out to make you feel as though you are in a quaint park with it's beautiful tall trees reaching towards the skylight. Whether it's a lovely sunny day or a gloomy rainy evening, you will be protected from all the elements but still have the feeling of being outside in this elegantly designed space.
David Abela saw potential in the space 12 years ago and after spending the last 3 years empty, David joined forces with Andrew Ryan (Mitchelton Wines) and Daniel Vid (Melbourne Pub Group) to bring something special to the wanting Swan Street.
The Ugly Duckling began as a wine bar with a list that would make the most seasoned sommelier's mouth water. Once Nick Selvadurai took hold of the bar, it has evolved into one of Melbourne's best new cocktail bars. Nick with the aid of Jimmy Burchett expanded their menu from nine house cocktails to a now stunning thirty-seven (and they'll make almost anything you ask for). Nick and Jimmy are constantly creating new drinks so there is always something special to experience every week.
With new eateries opening constantly on Swan Street, The Ugly Duckling is the perfect place for your pre and post dinner needs during the week. Its also great for a romantic date over a wine and some cheese & olives. The bar has an exciting rustic snack & food menu which is constantly evolving.