As a wise Richmond local once said, “You can never have too many pubs.” Melbourne’s inner east isn’t short of a boozer or two, but they tend to be focused on frothies from the tap, not contemporary bistro dining. Union House has been designed to plug that market gap.
Richmond locals will recognize the spot as the old home of Union Dining, which closed earlier in the year. The lease was snapped up by the team behind Fitzroy pub Marquis of Lorne (Steve Rowley, Matt Vero, Cal Hitchens, Will Benjamin and Ryan Crick) with a view to creating something similar on Swan St: a laid-back casual eatery...with its top button done up.
The space is being re-styled by Alex Lake, who designed Tall Timber and helped out on Marquis. Downstairs you’ve got the classic tiled front-bar, high stools, warm timber ceilings, plus a rarity for Melbourne interior design: carpet. Upstairs there’s a slightly more upmarket dining room, a big old Cheminees Philippe fireplace and a renovated outdoor terrace (it’s not Richmond without a rooftop beer garden, right?)
Hitchens and Benjamin will be handling the booze, with five taps and a selection of local craft beers (think Sample and Stomping Ground, to start with). The kitchen’s being run by head chef Jacob Swain from Marquis, and comes in two speeds: downstairs pub grub, and upstairs bistro fare.
Down at the bar you’ll be kick back with plate-sized schnitzels and gentleman's relish, rockling burgers and chicken pot pies, while upstairs there’ll be robust flavours and a delicate touch. Beef Carpaccio with fried artichokes whole fried flounders swimming in caper butter, and an opera cake for dessert (a nice little throwback).
Richmond’s pub scene is well established, but a little staid. Union House could be just what the doctor ordered. See you at the front bar.
Image credit: Max Kruse