The silver lining for diners is that many big names are continuing to offer takeaway and delivery, meaning that those cult dishes – the ones that previously involved navigating advance booking systems or multi-hour wait-lists – can be enjoyed on your own time, in your own home.
Whether on the rise popularity-wise, or well-established cult classics, these are the iconic Melbourne dishes currently available in your lounge room.
Supernormal’s New England lobster roll
Andrew McConnell’s menu mainstay has to be a serious contender for Melbourne’s number one cult dish – it’s certainly the only one immortalised in key-ring form. Pillow-soft, sweet brioche buns brushed with melted butter hold generous chunks of lobster, Kewpie mayo, slivered shallots and peppery watercress; it’s low-key luxurious. Plus, when you order at home, no-one knows if you’re eating one – or ten.
Pre-order for pick-up from The Builders Arms Hotel, 211 Gertrude Street Fitzroy, or get it delivered.
Napier Quarter’s anchovy panino
The Fitzroy wine bar is currently operating as a pick-up only provedore, wine shop and “paninoteca” (panini bar), and its cult anchovy toast has been reimagined in sandwich form. Olasagasti anchovies, hard-boiled egg and a sharp green sauce made from blitzed parsley, coriander, capers and olive oil all comes stuffed between thick slices of Baker Bleu ciabatta. It’s an oily, salty, beautiful mess.
Pick up only.
Bar Margaux’s MGX Burger
When Michael and Zara Madrusan’s late-night brasserie and drinking den opened last winter, it fulfilled a need we didn’t know we had: accompanying our 3am cocktails with decadent French comfort dishes. And now Margaux’s signature MGX Burger is available to go. It consists of two 120-gram Wagyu patties, bacon, organic sliced cheese, a milk-brioche bun, and a Bordelaise sauce made from bone marrow, red wine, shallots and pepper. Throw in a bottle of Beaujolais or an Americano cocktail for two for the full experience.
Pick-up from Bar Margaux, 111 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, or get it delivered.
Attica’s A Simple Dish of Potato Cooked in the Earth it Was Grown
Inspired by the Maori hangi cooking style, in which food is slowly baked in an underground oven, this iconic dish helped establish chef-owner Ben Shewry as a culinary star more than a decade ago. It’s now been resurrected as part of Attica’s at-home menu. To make the dish, the potato is baked for more than seven hours between two layers of soil, so it ends up super soft and creamy. The dish is rounded out with cold-smoked cheese curds, free-range chicken “floss” (deep-fried, then blitzed until fluffy) and crunchy fried saltbush.
Pick up from Attica, or get it delivered.
The Builders Arms’ whipped cod roe
There’s a reason this snack, which was on the Builders’ opening menu way back in 2012, is still one of the pub’s most popular items. A serve of the velvety cod-roe dip glistens with olive oil and peachy pearls of salmon roe, accompanied with little rectangular batons of toasted Turkish bread for dipping. It’s silky, salty and moreish.
Pick-up from The Builders Arms Hotel, 211 Gertrude Street Fitzroy, or get it delivered.
Borsch Vodka & Tears’ potato and cheese pierogi
You no longer need to venture out into the bitter Melbourne cold to get your hands on Polish comfort-food classics, because this South Yarra institution is serving its signature pierogis to-go. There’s paprika-spiked beef and chicken, and a mushroom version in enoki broth, but pick of the bunch is the carb-on-carb potato and cheese dumpling, topped with beetroot, sour cream and caramelised onions by the four or sixpack. Add borsch, pickles, and vodka-based cocktails for the full Polish experience.
Pick-up from 173 Chapel Street Windsor, or get it delivered (weekends only).
Back in 2010, when we were queuing up the stairs for a table at Mamasita, the hottest new eatery in town, this vegetarian dish was a must-order. Blackened, roasted corn has its sweetness offset by mild Cotija cheese, lime juice and a little chipotle mayo. For the takeaway version, the charred corn is served off the cob for easier sharing, but everything else is the same.
Pick up from Hotel Jesus, 174 Smith Street, Collingwood, or get it delivered.
Miznon’s baby cauliflower
Israeli street-food eatery Miznon is known for its next-level pitas, but the quintessential dish that gets everyone talking is the whole baby cauliflower. It’s a simple concept: blanched, rubbed with olive oil and coarse sea salt and then roasted whole (leaves and all). The result is more than the sum of its parts: golden brown on the outside, sweet and juicy inside. Pull it apart and share.
Il Bacaro’s Moreton Bay bug spaghettini
This dish has been on Il Bacaro’s menu in some form or another since 1999, with the only change being the removal of sliced chillies for a more consistent level of heat.. Delicate al dente spaghettini is dressed with a sauce made from olive oil, white wine, fish stock, chilli, garlic and anchovies, which is just gentle enough to allow the fresh, sweet flavour of the Moreton Bay bug to shine. In 2018, co-owner Marco Tenuta told Broadsheet writer Patrick Boyle that Mick Jagger, Justin Timberlake, Kylie Minogue and various prime ministers have enjoyed the dish. Now you can have it in your pyjamas.
Bar Idda’s mulinciani
Ever since this Sicilian eatery opened in Brunswick back in 2009, this simple and satisfying eggplant dish has been a customer favourite. The recipe, from owner Alfredo La Spina’s grandmother, takes the restaurant three days to prepare, and the result is a cube stacked with fine layers of rich, buttery eggplant, creamy buffalo mozzarella, tomato, and fragrant basil. Serve with crusty bread.
Dainty Sichuan’s fish-flavoured eggplant and rice
There's no fish involved in this vegetarian Sichuan scenario. The name refers to the sauce – flavoured with ginger, garlic, chilli, black vinegar and Shaoxing wine – which is normally served with fish dishes. Instead, here it coats chunks of eggplant that are silky inside and golden-fried on the outer. And it’s only mildly spicy. Compared with the other offerings on the sweat-inducing chilli fever dream that is the Dainty Sichuan menu, the fish-flavoured eggplant is a welcome relief.
Delivery only, via Deliveroo
Tipo 00’s gnocchi di patate
The kitchen team at Tipo 00 takes a perfectionist’s approach to pasta, which means the restaurant has some of the city’s hardest-to-nab tables. This deeply savoury gnocchi dish, though, is well-suited to taking home. Tiny pillowy clouds of potato gnocchi are offset by a rich duck ragu, made with porcini mushrooms and braised Gippsland duck. It’s finished with pepper-studded pecorino pepato.
Chin Chin’s twice-cooked beef short rib
Chin Chin’s modern take on the classic Thai flavour quartet (sweet, sour, spicy, salty) is encapsulated in this hearty main. Hopkins River beef rib is slow-cooked for about eight hours until it’s fall-apart soft, and comes served with a classic sour prik nahm pla sauce, which is flavoured with scud chillies and sawtooth coriander, and a delicate shaved fresh coconut salad to balance the meat’s sweet caramelised exterior.
Pick up from Chin Chin, 125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, or Kong BBQ, 599 Church Street, Richmond, or get it delivered.
France Soir’s côte de boeuf pour deux (beef rib for two)
This is not a takeaway dish to be eaten ignominiously on the couch in a tracksuit. It’s a special-occasion, date-night delivery dish, so bust out the cloth napkins. A magnificent 900-gram piece of Gippsland rib eye comes with fries and your choice of buttery, tarragon-scented bearnaise; a classic peppercorn jus; or a calvados (apple brandy) and wild mushroom sauce.
Pick up from France Soir, 11 Toorak Road, South Yarra, or get it delivered.
Caffe e Cucina’s calamari Sant’ Andrea
South Yarra’s long-running Italian diner is a pioneer of Melbourne’s Italian-influenced cafe scene. Since the 1980s, diners (including Marco Pierre White) have visited this bustling space for espresso coffee, bowls of handmade pasta, and this calamari dish – a tangle of pale-gold rings, lightly floured and fried, then served with a simple rocket salad and balsamic mayo. It’s tender, moreish and brings out the calamari’s natural sweetness.
Hutong’s xiao long bao
It’s now possible to get these plump, juicy xiao long bao without the wait for a table at Hutong’s always-hectic city or Prahran restaurants. Its resident dumpling masters have perfected this classic Shanghainese snack, which balances pork mince, ginger and a slightly gelatinous salty broth in tiny steamed soupy parcels. Dress each dumpling in black vinegar and chilli, take a small bite and slurp the soup directly – and carefully, it’s hot – from the dumpling. And as when dining in, ordering a second round of XLBs is good move.
Delivery only, via Deliveroo.
Maha’s lamb shoulder (for four)
This long-standing dish from Shane Delia’s Middle Eastern flagship is well-suited to a small dinner party on a frosty winter night. The lamb is scented with garlic, cumin and lemon, and has been cooked long and slow til tender, so it only requires a brief warming up in your oven at home. A side of steamed green beans with lemon and toum is included, as is your choice of couscous with dates, herbs and pumpkin seeds, or a pilaf with barberries and lentils.
Cumulus Inc’s lamb shoulder (for two)
Yep, we put two lamb shoulders on this list. The Cumulus take, too, is an absolute classic – slow roasted for 12 hours until it’s soft and gelatinous and just falling apart, but with a nicely crisped crust. A romesco-inspired sauce, a herb-infused oil and an almond puree all provide bright, fresh foil to the intense meatiness.
Pick-up from The Builders Arms Hotel, 211 Gertrude Street Fitzroy, or get it delivered.
Abla’s chicken and rice
It’s part of the ritual of eating at Abla’s: the rice pilaf that arrives at your table at the end of the banquet; a showstopper for more than 40 years. It’s a substantial serve of fluffy long-grain white rice with minced lamb, fragrant with cinnamon and allspice, surrounded by silky shredded organic chicken and topped with buttery toasted almonds and pine nuts.
Pick up only.
Vue de Monde’s chocolate soufflé
The complexities of a perfectly risen soufflé being as they are, it’s not a dessert exactly suited to home delivery. So this one requires a little more commitment. Vue de Monde’s chocolate soufflé comes completely deconstructed, as a kit for baking at home, and executive chef Hugh Allen has even created an instructional video to accompany it. You’ll end up with six Valrhona chocolate soufflés, each one light, fluffy and bittersweet. And you’ll have mastered an impressive cooking technique too.
Grossi Florentino’s tiramisu
If a DIY soufflé feels too ambitious, Grossi Florentino’s long-standing take on tiramisu requires no more prep than transferring it to a plate. There’s plenty of tiramisu available in Melbourne, but the Grossi version is a cut above. It serves two, and includes a boozy hit from both sambuca and Strega (a herbaceous Italian liqueur), a generous slug of espresso, Pavesini biscuits, dark chocolate and creamy mascarpone. Best served with a short macchiato on the side.
Want more takeaway? Check out our live list of Melbourne restaurants doing takeaway and delivery here.