The group behind Collingwood restaurant and wine bar Congress, Milieu Hospitality, is opening a second venue in August on Swan Street in Richmond.
Joining Mileau co-owner Shannon Peach to launch the venture is Stefanie Breschi (former front of house at Jacques Reymond) and Alex Boffa (Frank Body co-founder).
The ground level of the corner site, which was previously an art gallery, has been completely revamped. It now has two dining rooms, a bar and an outdoor courtyard.
“It was quite dilapidated. It’s been quite a long renovation,” says Breschi. “A lot of the original features have either been fully restored or replaced. This part has taken the longest, but now we’re onto fitting out the interiors.”
The front dining room will be light and airy and seat 32. It’ll have an open kitchen, cork flooring, white walls and touches of pale American oak. The dark green tiling of the facade will echo throughout the space.
A private dining room will be “a bit darker and more moody,” with a print from photographer Tom Blachford's Nihon Noir series, which was shot in Tokyo, taking centre stage. The 30-seat back bar will “feel more Japanese” with red-brick walls, polished-concrete floors and dark timber. The main entrance will be in the laneway that runs down the side of the building.
“There was this really interesting, almost like a barn door. It’s a bit more mysterious than [the street entrance],” Breschi says. “It’s coming together nicely, the building is beautiful, the ceiling heights are incredible.”
The first floor is due to open about six months after the ground level, with another dining room, bar and outdoor terrace planned.
“At Congress it’s completely different, being part of a brand new development with lots of glazing and concrete,” Breschi says. “[Here] the raw materials were all there, it had that character already.”
On the walls will be a rotating series of Australian works from government initiative Artbank. A playlist of mostly Japanese disco is in the works, too.
Head chef Atsushi Kawakami, former sous-chef at Kappo, has created a menu centred around Japanese donburi rice bowls.
“One of my favourites uses chirashi, which was born in sushi restaurants,” says Breschi. “The sushi chef would cut perfect slices of sashimi and then with the offcuts – which is still beautiful fresh fish, but not in those perfect slices – they’d chop it up and put it on a rice bowl, and generally marinate it in soy, sake, mirin to bring out all the flavours. That’s all I eat when I’m in Japan.”
The menu will also feature izakaya-style snacks, skewers from the kitchen’s two hibachi grills, plus a larger share section.
The service at Future Future borrows from omotenashi, the Japanese concept of providing outstanding hospitality to guests.
“The first experience people will have is a cup of house-blend iced tea and a welcome snack,” says Breshi. “That’s something you often experience in Japan. As soon as you sit down you’re treated to a little something.”
Future Future is due to open early August.
191 Swan Street, Richmond
Wed & Thu 6pm–11pm
Fri & Sat 12pm–11pm