After a three-year wait, Swan Street’s Ugly Duckling cocktail bar finally has a sibling – and she’s beautiful.
The brainchild of Andrew Ryan (Mitchelton Wines, Melbourne Pub Group), Daniel Vid (Melbourne Pub Group) and David Abela (3 Degrees Marketing), Untitled is a stylish two-story restaurant and bar designed to welcome locals like a second home.
The 100-seater was decorated by Flack Studio with all the trimmings. The sophisticated layout has decadent hues of caramel, rich walnut and biscuity oak, and while you feel like you’ve stepped into an art gallery, tactility is a key part of the hotel’s winning formula. Untitled.
“We wanted the aesthetic to be really interesting and layered,” Ryan said. Large format. “Although there are a few colors and nearly 20 different finishes per level, it’s still inviting and comfortable. It’s new, but familiar.
With multiple dining areas, window seating, a horseshoe bar, and garden lounge, every aperitif, lunch break, and three-course meal can feel like a completely different experience.
Both Ryan and Abela are great art collectors, hence the enigmatic name of the restaurant. “An untitled work of art is a constantly changing work,” says Abela. “Working with Flack, we are committed to continually layering and evolving the space; this is how untitled works come to life and become meaningful pieces.
The kitchen is led by Timothy Martin (The European, Taxi Dining Room) and supported by Brae alumnus Tom Ferne. Despite the duo’s impressive credits, the food here isn’t “cheated.”
“We didn’t want fancy,” says Abela. “We wanted a place where people feel comfortable going several times a week.”
Ryan’s pick from the European-inspired menu — which includes Murray cod fillet with roasted cucumber and spaghetti frutti di mare — is duck stew gnocchi. “It’s quite special. Take bread just for the sauce after, or even fries. It’s like dipping in KFC sauce.
If you’re in the mood for a snack, opt for the fan-favorite pea and ricotta arancini balls. “They are actually quite amazing. They are rustic with a large piece of cheese in the middle.
The introduction of a robust kitchen also opens up possibilities for Ugly Duckling, and there are plans to serve the cocktail bar with a streamlined menu in the coming months.
The wine list, curated by Stephen Ruse, maintains the bistro’s European vibe through Basque, Vincenza and Chablis, before heading home to roost in Victoria with a healthy blend of Mitchelton drops.
The combination of chocolaty interiors, welcoming service, and an accessible menu elicits instant warmth at Untitled.
“We’re in the hospitality industry, not just the service industry,” Ryan explains. “Untitled is an extension of our house. We want you to feel like nothing is too much trouble, we’re here to help and make sure you have a great night’s sleep.”
236 Swan Street, Richmond
(03) 7033 1674
Fri & Sat 12pm-late