By WENDY HARGREAVES
Does the thought of cooking Christmas lunch fill your heart with bah humbug? Never fear. Here are five of the best Melbourne restaurants working through the holidays to give us the gift of stress-free Christmas Day lunch. Just imagine… no food shopping, no cooking and NO DISHES. That has to be the ultimate Christmas miracle. At the time of publishing, there were a few tables still available, so get in quick. And if you want to hear my Christmas dining segment on 3AW, tune in here.
- Less than a month old, Elwood Bathers is a great option for a relaxed beachfront Christmas lunch for the whole family, with uninterrupted views across Port Phillip Bay. Formerly Sails on the Bay, new owners gave the pavillion a seven-week reno and opened with a slick new look on November 28. And they’ve been smashed by eager diners for breakfast, lunch and dinner ever since. There are still a few Christmas bookings between 11am and 2pm ($165 per person and $50 for kids). Guests will be greeted with a glass of Verve Cliquot, followed by a three-course menu with choices like scallop and prawn tartare, rack of roast pork, house-made gnocchi with truffles, Eton Mess and traditional Christmas pudding.
- 187 Flinders St, Melbourne, (03) 8080 8827
- Om Nom is a dessert restaurant, so you can expect sweets to loom large on Christmas Day, but executive chef Jo Ward will also serve an extravagant savoury dishes in her five-course degustation, starting with a glass of champagne and confit duck waffle cones, parmesan panna cotta and pork terrine canapés, before scallops, tuna and spanner crab for starters and a main course of crispy skin duck breast and veggie sides. There will sittings at 11.30am and 2.30pm ($175, or $75 for kids). And for Jo’s dessert? It will run over two courses (of course), starting with raspberry and cream ice cream cones, and finishing with a cherry creation that will top the lot (pictured).
- Venues in Brunswick East, Williamstown, Kew and Brighton – bookings on (03) 9207 7477 or online
- Hellenic food guru George Calombaris loves a festive spread, and the Masterchef star and his crew at Hellenic Republic have put together a cracker for Christmas Day lunch. The four-course sharing menu features slow-roasted pork scotch, whole fish from the grill and the restaurant’s famous Cypriot grain salad (pictured) with its 0h-so festive pomegranate arils on top. The meal finale is Hellenic-style Christmas trifle, and the whole thing is custom-built for families ($110pp and $70pp for kids under 12).
- 203 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North, 03 9482 3002
- Donovan Cooke will showcase his famously fastidious French cooking techniques over five classic courses ($150, or $50 for a three-course kid’s menu) featuring luxe ingredients like marron with smoked heirloom tomato and pan-fried scallops. The pan-fried snapper fillet comes with confit fennel, orange and coriander, while the main course will a choice of Beef Wellington or traditional roasted corn-fed chicken with chestnut stuffing. Either way, the meal will be exquisite, finished with Cooke’s passionfruit pavlova.
- Flinders Walk (between Flinders Street Station and the Yarra River), Melbourne, (03) 9614 2203
- Right on the banks of the Yarra River, Arbory’s bar and dining space is constantly pumping 365 days a year, but there are still a few tables available for executive chef Nick Bennett’s Christmas Day menu. The two-hour session ($145) includes three generous courses of shared festive seafood, charcuterie, turkey, ham and veggie sides, finishing with spiced Christmas cake – all washed down with sparkling, white and red wine, beer, cider and soft drink. Lunch is served from 11.30am, with a children’s menu available on request.
For an easy meal at home, organise some Christmas catering from Middle Eastern favourite Babajan Eatery (713 Nicholson St, Carlton North, 9388 9814). The popular diner will open on Christmas Eve so you can pick up large (always delicious) salads, borek, dips, Turkish bread, pickles and their famous lamb Lachmacun, but you must pre-order your dishes by Friday, 21 December.