Melbournians, in my opinion, are particularly adept at making good use of space. An important skill in a city that holds much of it’s charm in out of the way places. The sort that you have look for; whether it be down a lane, in the middle of a river or up to the skyline – to the rooftops. A recent addition to the Melbourne’s rooftop scene is Union Dining Terrace.
Sitting happily above the restaurant of the same name this lovely al fresco terrace opened at the beginning of February. When you make your way upstairs onto the expanse of warm terracotta tiles and soak up the sun’s rays whilst sipping your Pimms it is easy to forget that the hustle and bustle of Swan Street and Church Street lurks below. It is a casual affair but carries lots of little details that make you feel very relaxed. The atmosphere nails the “European Provincial with a distinctly Melbourne identity” brief from owners chef Nicky Riemer and front of house maestro Adam Cash. We were greeted with genuine smiles and enjoyed an attentiveness that struck exactly the right chord.
You cannot help but see the large grill down one end of the deck – I’m tempted to call it a barbecue because it seems a more fitting moniker, but perhaps that’s too domestic. Name aside, as soon as the first order hits the heat and the scent wafts down, it’s time to reach for the select menu of bites from the grill and a few other tasty treats. I could easily have tried all of what was on offer. We started with Cheddar, gherkins & grissini $9. I can be ambivalent towards gherkins at the best of times, it all depends on the pickling. These ones I loved – the balance of sweet flesh and vinegar won me over.
Anchovies and smoked paprika cheese crackers $12 came out next, but didn’t last long on the plate. So very moreish. Even if you think you don’t like anchovies, try these, they will change your mind.
I love things on skewers. Such a clever way to serve mouthwatering morsels and perfect for al fresco eating. The Italians (and Union Dining) call their version spiedini, coming from the Italian spiedo meaning spit or spiedini referring to cubes or balls of meat cooked on a skewer, but elsewhere they may be referred to as kebabs, brochettes or yakitori. We tried both the chorizo, pancetta and pickled mushroom $6
and the fish, tomato, zucchini and bay leaf $9.
Union Dining Terrace is worth seeking out for a relaxed drink and casual nibble. With Melbourne’s beautiful autumn days ahead and more on the menu to try – the pork fennel and chilli baby burger for one – I will be returning to this relaxed Richmond rooftop.
You will find it at 270 – 272 Swan St, Richmond. Its up the stairs and out the back and is open from 5pm Wednesday to Sunday.