Pub Review – The Bridge Hotel Richmond

In the short history of this blog I’ve mentioned The Bridge Hotel quite a few times. It’s not that I have a particular fascination with this pub, or that I’m friends with the owner, or that they give me free beer for saying nice things (though that is one of my stated aims of this whole blog thing. I definitely can be bought, and cheaply too). It’s just that a) I live close to it and have been watching the redevelopments with interest since April, b) they just happen to have re-opened last weekend, and c) they have really made a very interesting space that deserves its own post. So, what’s the big deal with The Bridge? Well, simply put, there is not a pub in Melbourne that’s quite like it.

This review follows on well from my last post about the way pubs have had to re-invent themselves in recent times in order to survive. Before the renovations The Bridge was a good example of your traditional Melbourne pub. It was a beautiful and traditional corner building which, as a photo in the front bar shows, has stood there since the Amora Hotel across Bridge Road was still a tram depot and a now long-gone racecourse existed to the west.

I love that the historical façade of the building has been kept as it was. If you drive by the only thing that indicates a change has taken place is the fact that the once dark gray building is now a crisp white with green accents around the windows and a matching green awning extending over a few tables out of the footpath. However, when you enter through the front door it’s pretty clear that this grand old pub has undergone one massive rebirth. If you are a fan of good architecture and interior design then you need to check this out for yourself.

The Bridge Hotel - Booths

The booths near the entrance

I’ve resisted the urge to publish tons of photos with this review. It would have been easy to do as I got heaps of great shots. However, the designers have done a really great job creating a space that is fun and playful and begs to be explored. I don’t want to show you want it looks like so you feel like you’ve been there already. I want you to experience it for yourself. I know that sounds very wanky of me and more like something Kevin McCloud would say on Grand Designs than something you would read on Melbourne Pub Culture but I really feel it’s the only way to describe this renovation. Each room and outdoor space is completely different and there are little hideaways, artistic features and vantage points everywhere you look. I have to admit that I want to go back again and again and spend time in each of these spaces because they are all so well done.

The renovation has effectively split the building in two so when you enter from Bridge Road you have blue sky above you. This narrow courtyard has been designed in a way that makes it feel like a cross between Degraves Street in the city and some hidden alleyway in Paris. Looking up to the second story you can see a landing and a couple of balconies that draw your attention to that fact that upstairs is now part of the social space of the pub.

The Bridge Hotel - Alley

I could go on forever describing the details and characteristics of each space; the room with the round booths, the room with the boardroom style table, the strange things hanging from the ceiling, and many more, but it would take me forever and I’d never do it justice anyway.

So, I’ll finish up with these quick notes and recommendations:

1)   Check out the old photos and pub map in the front bar. A nice nod to the building’s history.

2)   I sampled the food. It’s pretty damn good.

3)   Go and check it out for yourself!

4)   I love the little nods to Richmond’s Channel 9 studios located just down the street.

The Bridge Hotel - Sign

An interesting offer displayed in the front window.

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