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Finalists for Bar of the Year 2018
28.07.2017

Whether it's a late-night spot playing hip-hop at full volume, a throwback to the glamour of yesteryear or a bar-restaurant that slips the collar of definition, these three Bar of the Year finalists have all nailed one essential detail: good times.

Finalists for Regional Restaurant of the Year 2018
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These three restaurants - Fleet, Brae and Igni - might not be in capital cities, but the journey there is part of the unforgettable experience they offer.

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The life of a farmer revolves around the seasons. Come winter, a certain thriftiness is needed in the kitchen to make the most of meagre produce, writes Paulette Whitney.

Why breakfast isn't the most important meal of the day in Italy
27.07.2017

Italy's claim to being the greatest of the world's cuisines has one key weakness: breakfast. But, argues John Irving, there's more to the story than first meets the eye.

Reasons to visit Los Angeles in 2017
27.07.2017

The hottest spots to eat, drink, play and stay on your next trip to LA, rounded up into one perfect day.

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Your guide to a perfect stay in Canberra, from where to sleep to the exhibitions you need to check out.

Restaurants with rooms
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Some of Australia's best dining destinations take the hassle out of a weekend stay by offering their own on-site digs where you can hit the hay in style after your meal.

Finalists for Maitre D' of the Year 2018
26.07.2017

The maitre d' is your first introduction to a restaurant - they do as much to create a sense of ambience as lighting, tableware and music. And these three professionals are top of the class.

The Ugly Duckling, Richmond

The Ugly Duckling, Richmond

The Ugly Duckling, Richmond

Swan Street in Melbourne's Richmond is on the up. Just a few months back we reported that our favourite fried-chicken slinger, Morgan McGlone, would open another outpost of Belle's on Swan Street. Now comes The Ugly Duckling, East Richmond's newest wine and cocktail bar, which is anything but ugly.

A project by David Abela (founder of 3 Degrees Marketing), Andrew Ryan (Mitchelton Wines, Melbourne Pub Group), and Daniel Vid (Circa, Newmarket Hotel and Middle Park Hotel), The Ugly Duckling opens this week on the site of one of Melbourne's first department stores, Balls Corner, a 19th-century, heritage-listed building.

Abela has owned the property for 10 years and, unsure of exactly what he wanted to do with it, he's always referred to it as the ugly duckling."The exterior of the building is quite ordinary and can be easily dismissed," he says, "but when you look a little closer, there's something special about it. It feels intimate and residential."

Melbourne design-firm Hecker Guthrie is responsible for the fit-out, which features a dimly lit space at the front with a custom-designed, grey marble bar, and a larger seating area underneath the building's original glass atrium at the rear. Plenty of indoor plants, natural wood surfaces and Bouroullec furniture lend the space a conservatory-like feel.

The menu, Abela tells us, is focused around "European-style hospitality" and dishes "that enhance and support the drinking experience". So far, this includes warm olives and truffle potato crisps (served on handmade ceramics from Mud Australia), plus larger boards of cheese from Richmond Hill Café & Larder and charcuterie. On the drinks front, there are more than a hundred wines, including Giaconda Chardonnay and Patrice Rion Burgundy, and plenty available by the glass.

"Andrew, Daniel and I love entertaining," says Abela. "We wanted to create somewhere that's as equally suited to a pre-dinner Peroni as it is to a long night of wine and cocktails with friends."

Barman Nick Selvadurai (formerly of Cookie) will mix cocktails such as the Bitterball Bucks (Tanqueray 10, pink grapefruit juice, Campari spheres, Champagne) and, for the after-dinner set, handmade chocolates from Malvern's Ministry of Chocolate are available from the bar.

"It's a similar feel to how you'd entertain at home," says Abela. Albeit a home with a full suite of Riedel.

The Ugly Duckling, 238 Swan St, Richmond, Vic, (03) 9429 1498; open daily 3pm-1am. 

Not in Melbourne? Here are six other cosy bars from around the country.

 


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