Riverland Bar, Melbourne Australia – Review


Half the beauty of Melbourne is its hidden little secrets. I often wonder how many people wander across the Swanston Street bridge and miss the architect designed establishment of Riverland bar and cafe, situated next to the Yarra, under the shadow of Federation Square. 

On the surface, Riverland seems to consist of a scattering of tables and a sizzling grill churning out perfectly cooked organic sausages (with onions and sauerkraut, $ 8); but descend the steps beside the river and you’ll find that service area runs underground in a series of beautiful stone vaults. The interior has been designed in a modern style that maximises space and light, juxtaposing the old-worldly brickwork with moulded light fittings and minimalist decor. The work of 6 Degrees Architects is just another scopophilic pleasure to take in while you gaze out through the trees and across the water. 

Riverland is well equipped to deal with Melbourne’s unpredictable weather. The day is overcast, so the deck heaters are providing extra warmth at the outside tables. In summer, these are put away and up go the shade umbrellas, and the beer starts flowing. Riverland has only four beers on tap, but they are are a good mix of tastes – Carlton Draught, Pure Blonde, Asahi and a hot-day favourite, Bulmer’s Cider (from $ 9 a pint). The wine menu is much more extensive, with a wide range of red, white and sparkling, starting from $ 7 a glass. 

Coffee is the order of the day with lunch, and perfect latte-art coffee appears on the table soon after it’s ordered, delivered by an efficient black-shirted staff member. Perusing the menu, the tables and chairs inside and out begin to fill with business people and laughing groups of friends clutching shopping bags, as 12:30pm strikes in the city. 

The menu is bursting with hard decisions. For breakfast, something simple; Egg with bacon and relish on crusty ciabatta ($ 6.50), or something more extravagant? Moroccan baked eggs perhaps? ($ 15.50). After perusing the specials board for the soup, salad and hot meal of the day, I go for what I am craving – a simple goats cheese and pesto flat-bread pizza ($ 10.50). I ask for extra pesto and it comes out in a little dish with the perfect lunch-size pizza. The staff are attentive and I order a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and an extra bowl of olives ($ 7) to compliment the meal. The chatter of the surrounding people dining on simple, quality dishes mingles with the buzz of passing trams and river cruises, creating a relaxed, warm feeling, despite the stiff September breeze. 

Riverland is open from 7am to midnight, 7 days a week, and is an amazing place to either begin an afternoon of wandering the city, or start a night off in modern grandeur before the continuing to the theatres on South Bank or the clubs and bars on Bourke Street. Large and relaxed seating arrangements makes it ideal for a Sunday session in the sun with a group of friends. 

Discover Riverland for yourself!