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Bridge Hotel Richmond

Home > Melbourne > Hotels | Food and Wine | Dinner | Bars | Nightclubs
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (subscribe)
Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe. I'll update you with yummy and often free events. Like my photos? I instagram @redbagwilltravel
Published September 8th 2012
Is this Melbourne's trendiest pub?
bridge hotel richmond
Bridge Hotel Richmond

We lived in Richmond in the 90s and the Bridge Hotel was what my step-daughter called "that old man's pub"; TAB, bar, greasy food and not much of an environment for the ladies.

Although it did draw the GTV 9 crowd at lunch times as the station was just up a side-street.

That old TV station was redeveloped into upmarket inner -city apartments and the Bridge Hotel has also gone ultra- trendy. Strikingly so. Incredibly so.

When word reached me that the Bridge Hotel was now THE trendiest place to go in Melbourne I decided to venture back.

First sign of its popularity was trying to make a booking. I rang on a Saturday morning to book for dinner that night but the best they could do was Sunday night because they were booked out.

Crowds at the Bridge

Or if I wanted to take pot-luck for the few tables they keep unbooked I would have needed to be there at 6pm.

Our introduction to the pub was the bouncers - clad in black. They appraised our 17 year old, saw he was with two grown-ups and then let us pass.

But there was this feeling of gatekeepers. It wasn't exactly
exclusivity, given the pub had a diverse crowd, including a few
families, but more that an eye is kept on "who goes there." And
apparently on Friday and Saturday nights after 9pm the queue can trail out the door and the wait for entry can last over an hour.

Inside the decor is delightfully bizarre. Watering cans trailing from the ceiling, a bath in the middle of a room, an op-shop collection of those Spanish style nude paintings from the 1970s.

Part of feature wall of nudes

And everywhere little intimate corners. The Bridge seems based on the premise that when people go out to socialise they want to do just that. They don't want a huge barn of a place. Instead The Bridge is a mesh of funky nooks and crannies where small groups can get caught up in intimate conversations.

Where small groups congregate

The decor is extremely arty. There is Banksy type street art everywhere.

Street style artwork

Artwork with an audience

There is an area called the Winter Garden hung with a medley of watering cans and what at first sight look like hot tubs for seating. You know the type, where half-naked people slip into a spa with a glass of wine and relax and a have a chat. Except here they do this sans the water and fully clothed. Each of these hold 6-10 people in clubby conversation.

Conversational hot tubs with watering cans

To the left of the entrance is a small bar with lots of GTV 9 paraphernalia lining the walls. There is a TV in here, like in normal bars, but it was in a nook so it doesn't dominate the entire room.

Next came the Hemingway Bar. I am labelling it this because his head is a huge feature painted on the wall. Like most writers I am a huge fan of his writing principles. But funny that the old man should now be considered trendy. Although he did prop up his fair share of bars.

From the front door down the middle is a startling find -
a complete cobbled laneway like those in the CBD.

Except this one has more of a Parisian feel. If you look up there are all kinds of little ornate balconies where small groups can cluster looking down on those below. It is strikingly similar to a famous Vincent Van Gogh painting. Perhaps the architect had this somewhere deeply embedded in his mind when he drew up the plans.

Café Terrace at Night,

So very Vincent like

The architect was Justin Northrop and others from TECHNE. Click here to see some of the work they did here. In July 2012 their work on the Bridge Hotel was also awarded a commendation for the Interior Architecture Award at the Australian Institute of Architects.

This laneway is open to the starry night above which means that
people can smoke but their habits don't impact on non-smokers.

It also means that the smokers are not social outcasts. They really are in the hub of what's going on but separated from the non-smokers by glass rather than walls.

And often this glass is old fashioned bay windows of the type found in 1920's home.

Note window frames at very back

I gather these were salvaged from old period homes. Which helps make these corners incredibly homely.

Our table was in a nook in one such alcove with lead lighted windows. We could look outside to the laneway or inside to the decor which included an aviary of stuffed birds made menacing highlighted by diffused orange lighting.

To the left was a staircase hung with bicycles. Very Marcel Duchamp.
Very Duchamp

Our food was fairly typical pub fare. The Turkish bread was a bit
soggy and the dips a bit bland. The parma was just that - a pub parma. A wagyu beef burger, despite its upmarket name, was also just a burger with chips. Both were $19.90 .

This place seems to be more about the surrounds and the vibe: the company you keep rather than the food that you eat.

Oh, and if you go on Tuesday nights there is a nice, pubsy deal - $13 porterhouses.

Although I have the sense that if you do order something a little more unusual from the menu that the chef rises to the occasion. And a little more effort goes into the ingredients and the presentation. I had a Black Russian salad which looked stunning, with tuna, crunchy parboiled beans, new potatoes and my first taste of black tomatoes. It was excellent fare at $17.50. So my suggestion would be to move beyond the usual pub staples.

Other items that looked interesting included cumin roasted pumpkin and brocolini with risotto and freshly shaved peoruno ($22) and calamari Mediterranean strips served with herb salad, coriander and lime aioli ($13 for a share plate.)

After dinner I took a wander up to the second level. Another
wonderland of strangeness. The wall art is amazing up here, there's a cow hanging out the window and full sized newspaper figures on the wall.

I was just about to take a photo but a bouncer got in my face about taking photos which was a bit off-putting because this is certainly one great tourist attraction worthy of a few pics.
Artwork the Bridge Hotel

Artwork the Bridge

Oh, and drink wise there are 20 beers on tap as well as the usual mix of wines and cocktails.
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Why? To experience the funkiest decor in Melbourne
When: Open Sun-Thurs, noon-11pm; Fri-Sat, noon-3am
Phone: 9429 5734

Where: 642 Bridge Road Richmond
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