Autumn is here, but it’s hardly time to retreat into ramen, fridge leftovers and order-in pizza. Far from it. There are still plenty of warm-weather-centric Melbourne dining options to help extend the summer vibes, from barbeque to berries. Here’s our guide to what to try and where.
Fire pits and beach scenes
Barbeques don’t always have to be eaten in a backyard. Japanese-Korean pit barbeque house Kong in Richmond has brought back its express lunch loaded with bright, tangy flavours. Try the salmon teriyaki bento with rice, vegetable tempura and salad, or the hiyashi chuka ramen (chilled noodles) with lettuce, avocado, cucumber and sesame soy dipping sauce. Snags not necessary.
The combination of tangy fresh ingredients, ornamental cacti and pastel colours of bar and taqueria Radio Mexico (Northcote and St Kilda) conjure the spirit of warm-weather scenes all year round. Chipotle beer chilaquiles (corn chips pan-tossed in ancho and chipotle salsa) help, as does the popular cochinita pibil: Yucatán classic pulled pork. Formerly a popular cameo, the stuffed jalapeños – filled with cream cheese – have graduated to menu staple.
Bar snacks with benefits
No need to make that trip to Cuba – there’s now a slice of it in Richmond. The Palm Royale is packed with palm trees, stuffed parrots, flamingos and enough tropical ephemera to make you think you’re near the beach. Along with on-point snacks like guacamole with corn chips and salsa verde with tostadas, there’s Cuban music and an outdoor garden to while away the night.
Container bar Whitehart is doing something similar in the CBD, but in place of a garden is an open-air industrial space and rooftop to capture the breeze. Inside are palm trees (again) and a kaleidoscopic visual feast of projections and graffiti. Offering pit-smoked meats and sides including green-apple slaw with capsicum, sesame and mint, there’s little reason to leave.
Take it to the grass
The sprawling gardens and lawns of the Abbotsford Convent, set on the bend of the Yarra, might be the premier picnic spot in Melbourne. But don’t head home once you’ve lazed and grazed; sign up for the Beginners Bread Making class at Convent Bakery, held on selected weekends. As well as learning how to create and bake bread, you’ll also make wood-fired scones and pizza.
The Stables of Como are repurposed horse stables nestled in the gardens of a South Yarra mansion. Look through the historic homestead, or perch yourself among the trees and settle in for a picnic. The best part? You don’t even have to bring your own. The staff will prepare a pack on request, with options of a classic chicken Waldorf sandwich, strawberries and Belgian chocolate mousse, and lemonade scones. Frisbee and rug also included.
Berry-picking season runs until the end of April, with strawberries, blueberries and blackberries all fair game. Head to Gentle Annie Berry Gardens, in the Pennyroyal Valley just outside of Lorne, where you can also stay for an Italian farmhouse-style seasonal roast twilight dinner on Friday or Saturday nights. A little closer to the CBD is Bramble Farm in Langwarrin, where you can pick berries and purchase homemade jams, conserves or cold-pressed honey.
Pidapipo Gelateria in Windsor and Carlton is making honey-based ice-cream sourced from from a bees’ nest on the sunny roof of the Carlton store. If that’s not summery enough, there’s a coconut, lychee and mango sorbet at Gelato Messina where, if you’re game, you can book a spot in one of its Gelato Appreciation Classes – part gelato-making and part gelato-degustation. These sessions run on selected Saturday mornings at the Fitzroy store.
Always take the weather with you
First, pick up some season-appropriate plants from Cool Cactus in Armadale, where owner Naomi Burd is armed with the knowledge to green your thumb. Then take them home and scatter them around the place. Now you’ve installed the setting, order in some tropical dishes via Deliveroo or UberEats. Try the “King fish” bowl from Mahalo Poke, with heirloom radish, jalapeño, zucchini, ka’ukama, edamame, cabbage, pickled ginger and wasabi mayo. If not, the Volcano Chips with furikake, Hawaiian salt and wasabi mayo should hit the spot. Pair with a sparkling glass of chilled Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial, along with three cubes of ice. Consume. Relax. Siesta.
This article is presented in partnership with Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial, the first Champagne designed to be served exclusively over ice. Please drink Moët & Chandon responsibly.