This aint no Ugly Duckling
Just as the sunshine comes after the rain, so too does a good wine bar experience follow a rather ordinary one. With aging bones and creaking knees, our clubbing days with plastic cups of vodka being sloshed about on a dance floor are well past us. Like classy people of a certain age the world over, we choose to get shickered on good wine and fine spirits in very nicely appointed bars.
After a less than enjoyable experience one midweek evening, we decided on this bar to continue our evening constitutional, given we had broken the cardinal rule of no drinking on a Tuesday. A warm welcome, prompt service and an obvious love for what they do transformed our evening from mediocre to great.
Ugly Duckling, on Swan Street in Richmond is a stylish spot, and has made great use of the space. Typical of older, inner suburban buildings, it has high ceilings, and the allocation of various spaces is clever. There is a very clean almost Scandi design ethic and little has been missed. It is the kind of bar we like for so many reasons. The dark front bar is in contrast to the light timber and white back room where the high ceilings really make it look so much bigger and brighter.
Service is the key - we were made to feel like we were welcome in the space, like we mattered at the time. It is easy to make someone feel welcome, and even when you are at your busiest, a smile, hello and 'we will be with you soon' makes all the difference.
There is a great range of cocktails, and the team on the night we are there are happy to go off piste and make us something not on the menu. Several wines and a couple too many negronis in, we are reminded eating would have been a good idea.
The food offer is great for this kind of venue - easily shared, tasty and mostly mediterranean in style. We did order some bowls of things - olives, Cauchette chilli peanuts and a pork and pistachio terrine. There are charcuterie and cheese plates to choose from, where you can mix and match to your taste.
Ugly Duckling is not ugly at all, it is the opposite, the evolution from the fairy tale. The lovely swan on Swan, which not only changed our mood and lifted spirits, but may have resulted in a Wednesday morning "how did that happen?" question. We only wish we could be doing it again.
Ugly Duckling 238 Swan Street, Cremorne. Victoria
Usual hours - Tue - Fri 5pm - late, Sat from 4pm and Sun from 5pm.