Picnics are officially back on for groups of up to two (or five if you’re all double-jabbed). And that means Melbourne’s restaurants are coming out in full force with ready-to-eat takeaway packs perfect for outdoor dining. Whether you’re picnicking on a budget or you want to push the boat out, here are 11 topnotch options for your next park expedition.
Migrant Coffee’s small picnic pack, $55 for two
West Footscray’s Migrant Coffee specialises in New York-style bagels inspired by the owners’ respective Filipino and Thai-Maori roots. Though they offer assembled sandwiches to take away, you can also DIY with one of their picnic packs. With two bagels, four spreads, deli meats and cheeses, fresh fruit and veggies, and even some fried pork crackling, it’s got everything you need to create the bagel of your dreams while sitting at the park.
Etta’s picnic box, $60 for two
Though you can’t pop a (boozy) bottle in the park just yet, Etta’s picnic boxes evoke all the energy of excellent wine-bar dining. They’re packed with refined takes on comfort-food classics such as wild-garlic-and-Comté quiches, Scotch eggs and strawberry choux puffs. Also expect pork-and-Thai-basil rillettes (or marinated peppers for vegetarians) with poppyseed crackers, and steamed globe artichokes with caper mayo for dipping.
Tulum’s WFH lunch box, $40 per person
Top Turkish chef Coskun Uysal has been selling savoury pastries from a regal red-and-gold cart out the front of his Balaclava restaurant since lockdown started. But now he’s packaging four of the most popular into a picnic pack for 40 bucks a head. The vegetarian option includes a mushroom-and-feta borek, a potato borek, zucchini-and-dill pie and a sesame-crusted simit (“It’s a bagel, but not a bagel,” Uysal says), plus dips and salads.
Maker & Monger’s picnic pack, $25 for two
Anthony Femia doesn’t just know cheese – he also knows what pairs perfectly with it. Queue the Sarafian hummus and Baker Bleu bagels, two highlights of Maker & Monger’s picnic packs. A tub of cream cheese (spiked with either jalapenos or charry roasted capsicum) makes for a pretty perfect trio. For an extra $50, you can add on a bag of Spanish potato crisps and a wedge of fancy Comté.
Ishizuka’s single-layer master bento, $150 for one to two
It may be a while before we can splash out with Ishizuka’s 11-course kaiseki again, but the team’s takeaway master bento is the next best thing. The opulent yet delicate wooden box features a seasonal selection of fresh and pickled vegetables, tamago (Japanese rolled omelette), assorted seafood and thick slabs of A5 Wagyu. It’s picnic-envy inducing.
Matilda’s picnic box, $70 for two
In true Scott Pickett fashion, meat is key in Matilda’s picnic box for two. In addition to cheese and charcuterie, there’s decadent duck rillette, puffed veal “crackers”, and dainty tea sandwiches with smoked chicken and chives. And on the side: lavash and baguette, pear chutney and quince paste, pickles and fruit, plus Pickett’s classic potato salad.
Oasis’s vegan deli box, $80 for four
If you’re planning a slightly larger picnic with vaxxed pals, Oasis has grazing boxes to feed a crowd. The vegan option is a standout, with enough snacks for up to four people. It combines fresh and dried fruit, assorted nuts, mixed olives and vegan cheese with house-made specials like the shop’s signature hummus and spice-packed peri peri dip.
Snow White Bakery’s high tea, $98 for two to three
Hosting your own high tea in the park is as easy as packing a thermos and ordering a takeaway set from South Yarra’s Snow White Bakery. It’s got all the fixings of a traditional high tea, including scones with jam and cream, assorted tea sandwiches, and sweets like mini macarons, lemon tarts and the bakery’s take on the beloved Wagon Wheel.
Mister Bianco’s picnic lunch box, $42 for one
Snag a seat in the sun and pretend you’re in Sicily with Mister Bianco’s five-part Italian lunch box. Built around a main dish of Campari-roasted duck with panzanella salad, the ready-to-eat box also includes Mount Zero olives, salumi and a brioche roll with cultured butter. To drink there’s a bottle of peach nectar, and for dessert a zesty lemon tartlet.
Rice Paper Scissors’ picnic box, $35 per person
With four fresh and spring-appropriate dishes, these Southeast Asian picnic boxes are perfect for outdoor dining. There’s a meaty and a vegan option to choose between. Both include a Burmese-style tea-leaf salad, Vietnamese-inspired slaw and banh mi (beef brisket or lemongrass tofu, depending on your preference). The meaty box also comes with tea-cured salmon, which is swapped for pineapple ceviche if you want to go meat-free.
Komeyui’s temari sushi and picnic boxes, $153 for both
Japanese diner Komeyui moved into swish new digs last year, and its premium takeaway offering is still going strong with these just-returned boxes. There are three options: a six-piece set of temari (round balls of sushi rice) topped with avocado, grilled eel, king prawn and spicy salmon ($55); a larger snack box with beef omusubi (traditional rice triangles), tuna-seaweed sandwiches, pork gyoza, panko-crumbed prawns, salt-cured Wagyu and more ($98); or both together, with sparkling water ($153).
Additional reporting by Chynna Santos.