Riché arrives to revitalise Richmond
Once known as the it place to be, Bridge Road has since experienced a decline in popularity and, as shown by the empty stores, the strip has struggled to stay relevant in the neighbouring city scenes. Sadly, the effects of Melbourne’s prolonged lockdown have exacerbated the situation, rendering the once-bustling shopping strip a ghost-town. But now, just as Melbourne’s restrictions are easing, Richmond locals can look forward to a revitalisation of the area with the opening of Riché – a creative, Asian-inspired eatery set to become Melbourne’s next destination cafe.
Previously known as OTTO Fine Food and Coffee, co-owners Alger Liu and Allen Goh – well-known figures in the Melbourne hospitality scene, having worked at the likes of The Guilty Moose – saw the business’ slower days caused by COVID-19 as an opportunity to rethink their position and “launch a more location and demographic-specific brand and offering” to suit the needs and tastes of Richmond locals. The result is Riché: a trendier, more elevated dining experience that still retains to its core, the team’s original philosophy of bringing the best in food, coffee and service. The name ‘Riché’ itself, is not only a tribute to the cafe’s location – whose community Liu acknowledges has been vital in the business’ survival – but also a reference to the richness that Liu and Goh hope the venue contributes to Melbourne’s food and beverage culture.
Whilst still serving typical brunch fare like chilli scramble or corn and zucchini fritters, Riché is far from just a weekend brunch cafe. With Head Chef, Thawat ‘Oat’ Prommachan (Terminus Hotel, The Glass Den, Mary Miller) at the helm, Riché’s menu boasts luxurious, restaurant-quality dishes with strong Thai and Chinese influences, that are designed to be enjoyed as a midweek meal and best appreciated with an alcoholic beverage – which the team hope to include in their offerings soon. Take the creatively-named ‘Baa Baa Who’s there’, a slow-cooked lamb shank in red curry sauce that’s perfect with a glass of red. Or, another of Riché’s signature dishes, the ‘Fresh Off the Boat’, steamed barramundi fillet with ginger and asian greens, soy sauce, shaoxing wine and sesame oil, that pairs well with a refreshing white.
Coffee remains an integral part of Riché and the team are proud to pursue their nine year partnership with Padre Coffee. On offer are Padre’s Daddy’s Girl as the house blend, as well as rotating single origin and filter blends, which can be enjoyed in their outdoor dining area under newly installed umbrellas; perfect for social-distanced dining as Melbournians make the most of our post-lockdown freedom and the upcoming summer weather.
While there’s a couple of weeks before the hospitality industry can reopen for dine-in, Riché is sweetening the wait with the launch of their DIY Kits, where you can recreate some of their signature dishes at home. Available are four options including: Wake Up in Paris (brioche french toast, seasonal fruits, white chocolate soil served with chocolate ganache, coconut gelato and raspberry meringue), Mr Potato Head (pulled pork benedict, poached eggs, potato hash and sriracha hollandaise), Fritters Get The Jitters (corn and zucchini fritters, tabbouleh salad, pickled carrot, beetroot hummus and a fried egg) and Leave No Bao Behind (spiced chicken, bao buns, pineapple, pickled carrot and daikon, homemade chilli jam, kewpie mayo and fried shallots). Each kit also includes a step-by-step recipe card with clear, pictured instructions – perfect for any level of culinary prowess.
On whether he is concerned about launching a new venue during such an unstable time, Liu is confident in the love Melbournians have for food and for dining out. “I think hospitality [will] not only recover, but will boom harder than anyone has seen [since] it was taken away during lockdown. We believe Melbournians will appreciate the liberty of being able to dine out more than ever. After all, we live in the food capital of Australia”, a title that Melbournians surely won’t give up easily.
Boasting an elevated offering with a creative flare, Riché hopes to be a revitalising force in rebuilding not only Bridge Road, but also Melbourne’s wider food and dining culture. After all, with a unique, memorable menu, a photogenic venue and a commitment to quality, Riché has all the makings of an unmissable Melbourne mainstay.