Whether you’re a local Melburnian or you’re traveling to Melbs next week, mark your diaries! The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival kicks off on March 16 with dining experiences ranging from countryside luncheons and intimate encounters with superstar chefs to local seaside picnics. As part of the festivities, OpenTable is an official supporter of Restaurant Express, where restaurants across Melbourne and regional Victoria will be offering a special two-course lunch menu with a paired Victorian beverage for just $40. Check out some of our favorite participating establishments below and book now for a tasty (and affordable) Melbourne Food and Wine Festival experience through March 25. Plus, residents of Victoria 18 and over who make and honor a reservation will have a chance to win one of five Golden Tickets.
Gingerboy, Melbourne CBD
Laneway dining is a prerequisite for any aspiring Melbourne foodie, and there’s no more quintessential laneway restaurant experience than at Gingerboy. Opened a decade ago by iconic Melbourne chef Teage Ezard, Gingerboy continues to deliver outstanding Asian-fusion cuisine with an Australian twist. Their Restaurant Express menu is no exception, offering mouthwatering soy-braised Wagyu brisket with peanut tamarind caramel, presented alongside a hot and sour coconut salad. Start the meal with pork and shiitake dumplings, or end it with dark chocolate cherry cheesecake and chili cherry sorbet. Book a Restaurant Express 2018 reservation.
Next time you find yourself in Carlton, skip the Italian kitsch and explore Epocha’s “new era.” As you cross the threshold of the restaurant’s Victorian terrace location, you’ll feel like an invited guest at an intimate dinner party, hosted by your most sophisticated friend. This well-balanced combination of relaxed elegance carries over into their #MFWF offerings, anchored by highlights from their regular menu. For entrees, diners can select from refreshing heirloom tomatoes, stracciatella, and mint, or the bright flavors of tuna, basil, and almond cream. The mains are heartier, with a selection of pillowy housemade potato gnocchi or classic roast chicken with button mushroom fricassée. If dessert is more your speed, you won’t be able to resist a Viennese spin on chocolate cake called sachertorte with dark chocolate ganache, peach jam, and chocolate glaze. Book a Restaurant Express 2018 reservation.
Om Nom, Melbourne CBD
Sugar addicts should run, not walk, to the Adelphi Hotel’s Om Nom. Melbourne’s bona fide dessert mecca, Om Nom serves signature sweets with unmatched creativity. For Restaurant Express, you can satisfy your midday sugar craving with two highlights from Om Nom’s regular menu. The smoking rosemary Caramelia cigar box is almost too beautiful to eat, with 2 Valrhona Caramelia chocolate and rosemary-infused cigars brought to life with raspberry vinaigrette gel and smoked chocolate ash. For a forkful of autumn flavors, the Granny Smith’s Panna Cotta Party combines vanilla panna cotta, green apple jelly, cinnamon and white chocolate powder, compressed apple, green apple sorbet, lime and green tea meringue, apple whizz fizz, and white chocolate aero. If your sweet tooth starts to ache, you can opt instead for a savoury meal of beetroot-cured salmon and braised beef cheeks. Alongside both lunch and dessert, enjoy a glass of 2015 Jack & Jill Scotchman’s Hill Chardonnay or 2015 Ingram Road Single Vineyard Shiraz. The hardest part of your whole meal will be deciding what to order. Book a Restaurant Express 2018 reservation.
Lucy Liu, Melbourne CBD
Wondering how to infuse some romance into lunch? Take your daytime date to Lucy Liu and let the stylish ambiance create a late-night mood. The Oliver Lane location injects an aura of mystery even in the daytime, and the modern Asian small plates encourage an intimate dining experience. For Restaurant Express, you’ll be spoiled for choice with a wide variety of special offerings. Start light with Kingfish sashimi with green chile, hot mint, and toasted coconut, or go decadent with rare breed sticky pork belly with palm sugar caramel. For mains, enjoy one of two popular favorites — the Cantonese steamed blue cod fillet or the crispy fried Szechuan duck.If you have the stamina, dessert options include lychee knickerbocker glory and chocolate dulce de leche with orange granita and malt biscuit. Book a Restaurant Express 2018 reservation.
The Waterside Hotel, Melbourne CBD
Just steps from Southern Cross station, the newly refurbished Waterside Hotel embodies the familiar ease of your neighborhood pub but serves food worthy of a workday power lunch. Expect high-quality, fresh ingredients from their Restaurant Express offering, with a menu featuring red lentil croquettes and the market fish of the day washed down with a glass of 2016 Toolangi Chardonnay. For rooftop diners, the food comes served with a dazzling skyline view. You may never go back to the office. Book a Restaurant Express 2018 reservation.
Brooke H. Moy is a culinary nomad, living in such foodie capitals as New York, Montreal, Madrid, Chicago, and, most recently, Melbourne. Read more expat exploits at downunderupsidedown.tumblr.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.