Southbank can be a frenzy of tourists on the weekend. Riverside restaurants are packed with diners, buskers and street performers line the boardwalk, and bars heave with weekend warriors. A fun time when in the right mood, but not the best for quiet respite from the work week’s frenetic pace.
Midweek is key here – particularly after dark. Southbank and the Crown precinct hold some of the city’s boldest food and drink destinations, beside which lies a warren of play and stay options to ensure you can really lean in.
Here’s a midweek guide for where to eat, drink, play and stay in the Crown Melbourne precinct.
As you’d expect at Johnny Di Francesco’s Italian mainstay, Gradi at Crown is dedicated to the fine art of Neapolitan pizza-making. The grand space is fitted out with a cicchetti bar (for small snacks and sides), a glass-fronted wine cellar and Italianate white marble – but the focus is all on that pizza. The star of the menu is the award-winning margherita verace, a deceptively simple Naples-style pizza with San Marzano tomatoes, basil and mozzarella di bufala. Grab a seat near the open kitchen and watch the pizzaiolos work the woodfired oven, or dive into the rest of the extensive menu, which includes ricotta-stuffed fried zucchini flowers and pappardelle with mushroom ragu and truffle cream.
Drink: The Waiting Room
The Waiting Room is known for its weekend high tea – the current Japanese-themed iteration features whisky cocktails and scones with yuzu marmalade – but it’s a good spot for knock-off drinks all week long. Modelled after the glamorous European-style lobby bars, it caters to afternoon champagne just as much as cocktails late into the evening. The signature Martini uses vodka infused with Davidson’s plum and lemon myrtle, while other twists on classic drinks include a Smokey Peach Margarita and Earl Grey Martini.
Do: Holey Moley
Holey Moley brings sensory overload to the minigolf game. It heaves with people on weekends, but midweek you might find a little extra time to line up those tricky shots. Eighteen themed holes are spread over two courses, taking you through an empty swimming pool (sun lounges and diving board included); a Mario-themed hole called It’s-a-Me, Pario; and Do Not Pass Go, a life-sized Monopoly board. Hit the bar post-game for cocktails like the Rub a Dub Tub, a mix of Fireball, Triple Sec, Red Bull and fruit juices served in a bathtub and topped with rubber ducks.
Stay: Crown Metropol
A night or two at Crown Metropol will have you feeling like a real tourist, no matter how long you’ve lived in Melbourne. Rooms in the Southbank hotel have views of the city skyline (impressive both day and night), a 27th-floor indoor pool and in-house beauty treatments from Mr & Mrs by Dr Tass. Plus, stays booked before October 31 come with a few special treats, including resort credits and a bonus third night when you book two.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Crown. Patrons must be over 18 years old to consume alcohol and may be prohibited from the casino or any Crown property for any reason. Crown practices the responsible service of alcohol. See Crown website for entry conditions and for more information.