Three new kitsch cake shops. Where to book your first post-lockdown dinner. A new art show hidden in a lush garden. The best park-ready feasts (including a Vietnamese barbeque pack with an instant grill). And more. Here’s what Broadsheet Melbourne editor Tomas Telegramma is checking out in Melbourne in October.

Get booking
You know the drill, Melbourne: failing to plan is planning to fail. As the city starts to stir from slumber 6.0 – ahead of an expected October 26 reopening (!) – bookings at our hottest restaurants have perhaps never been hotter property. So, consult this guide, then start securing some. Aru, Gimlet, Poodle, Supernormal, Johnny’s Green Room – they’re all here, alongside a whole lot more. Also worth your post-lockdown attention: our list of Melbourne’s best restaurant openings of 2021 (so far); the new-look Arbory Afloat, this year channelling Turkey’s picturesque Turquoise Coast; and Tokyo Tina’s luxe, new Christmas-party-perfect private dining room. Godspeed.

Picnic properly
Now that we can booze at picnics – legally – order is restored. Make the most of the rule rollback with Four Pillars’ new, ready-to-drink G&Ts, this bang-on bottled Negroni I can’t stop thinking about and these canned Espresso Martinis. Plus, find the locally made booze Broadsheet’s editors are loving right now, right here. On the food front, avoid picnic panic by ordering one of these park-ready feasts. But other excellent options include Jerry Mai’s Vietnamese barbeque packs (instant grill included), these prawn-and-cray rolls and Entrecote’s tres bien Parisian pique-nique boxes.

Art, outdoors
Melbourne’s galleries might be shuttered, but the city’s art experiences aren’t limited to their walls. Get “phygital” at a new, free augmented-reality art show at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Blending the physical and the digital, all you need is an app to experience Seeing the Invisible. Be surrounded by a monumental gilded cage by art star Ai Weiwei, walk towards a shimmering, spherical portal with an intensifying soundtrack, and more. Both the Melbourne and Cranbourne gardens have digitally transformed for this ambitious international exhibition. Also, next time you’re in Southbank, make a beeline for Hanover House. For Outdoor Living, the ageing seven-storey building is now blanketed in what looks like ’70s floral wallpaper.

Celebrate with cake
Whether the milestone you’re marking is a birthday, anniversary or vaccination – or you’re forward-planning for the end of the lockdown – celebration cakes are having a bit of a moment in Melbourne. A raft of new businesses has emerged recently, so here are three to try. At Mali Bakes, Thornbury’s appointment-only cake shop, pastry chef Patchanida Chimkire’s creations come with off-kilter flavours, colour palettes inspired by the Wes Anderson world, and playfully piped messages. Meanwhile, the ex-Ladurée chef behind Beurre is making kitsch, oblong-shaped cakes emblazoned with such encouraging phrases as “Great jab!”, “Yay, science” and “Poppin’ buttons for Sutton”. And the cheeky, punny buttermilk cakes by Miss Trixie Drinks Tea – also a one-woman operation – are way better than a hallmark card at getting your message across.

Top, top takeaway
Every week in lockdown, we publish a round-up of the week’s best takeaway options. But as we finally move towards calling time on takeaway-only, here’s some of the options that got you (and us) most excited in lockdown 6.0 – that you can still get now. That includes Tahini Neri’s new hummus bar, doing $10 hummus bowls with tahini, red and green harissa, falafel, pickles and warm pita bread; Dingo Ate My Taco, a roving taco truck that’s taking on the internet-famous birria quesatacos; and Clifton Hill’s Pizza Shop, with a cheeseburger-inspired special that truly lets you get the best of both worlds. Another big hitter was our feature on the takeaway getting top Melbourne chefs through lockdown; read it here.