Located at the corner of Peel and Wellington Streets in Collingwood, Congress is a space that keeps pace with the rhythms and routines of the day.
Serving wine and espresso until late, Congress is a welcoming space, with warm staff and a simple offering – no shmears or decorative drizzles, just honest food that warms the soul and quality wines that spark curiosity and conversation.
We are committed to creating a venue that is curated but that doesn’t feel contrived. “Congress is a meeting place,” says Katie McCormack of Milieu Hospitality, “it’s a welcoming venue where you can have a drink by yourself, grab a bite to eat or enjoy the company of friends.” Every element has been considered, but restraint has been applied to ensure timelessness – Congress is here for the long term.
With interiors by DesignOffice, Congress is designed for the enjoyment of food, drink and conversation, and is conceived as a democratic, convivial meeting place for Melbourne.
The generous glazed space is unified with a solid oak ceiling above, providing warmth and intimacy. A matching oak floor to the mezzanine provides a cocoon and vantage point to the street and double height space below. A palette of concrete, timber, aluminium and stainless steel is punctuated with saturated mustard tones, inky blues and olive greens.
A range of seating types and heights is considered with the aim of offering customers a choice of locations suited to their individual needs, their company, the season and the time of day.
The same approach to design is mirrored in the food selection. The menu refined but never overworked, and is always in-tune with the seasons and local producers. The menu structure is; small, top to bottom, shared or individual, flexible.
The food style is simple and restrained, seeking honest perfection rather than innovation for the sake of it. According to Katie, “the food is honest in its simplicity with an emphasis on provenance and quality rather than reinventing the wheel.” While it’s roots are Eurocentric, the menu is inspired by the rest of the world, and of course Melbourne.
Photo: Dan Hocking
To compliment the menu, the wine list is a small, considered, ever-evolving selection of reds, whites, and many things in between. Designed to excite but not alienate, with a good balance of familiar local producers mixed with international varieties and vineyards. The focus is on lo-fi producers who do most of their work in the vineyard rather than the winery. It’s a list that doesn’t require a conversation, but is so much more exciting when one is had.
Photo: Dan Hocking
The act of coming to the table is both instinctive and profound, an opportunity to seek pause and pleasure in the flow of daily life. For Congress, true hospitality in this experience begins with the simplest of gestures: a cool glass of water, a comfortable chair, and the promise of something delicious to eat. They work from the belief that meaningful service creates the conditions for genuine enjoyment and intimacy, without complicating matters an ounce more.
Congress is open Tuesday – Thursday 4pm till late, Friday – Saturday 11.30am till late, Sunday – 11.30am – 5pm.