Until recently, us Melburnians spent significant chunks of our lives in our city’s world-renowned restaurants, bars and cafes. Drinking and dining out is part of our DNA.
Right now, we’re settling into a new reality – one where picking up or ordering in is the new dining out – and some of the best venues in town have adapted with creativity and innovation.
Got an excellent new takeaway suggestion we should check out? Let us know.
Carlton's Lagoon Dining was one of 2019’s most exciting new restaurant openings, with two former Ezard and Longsong chefs at the helm and a menu that brings together big, punchy flavours from China, Thailand, Malaysia and beyond.
Takeaway-wise the list is tight, and includes rice noodles with XO and lap yuk (cured pork belly); silky, slow-cooked fish fragrant eggplant; dan dan noodles; and salted-fish fried rice scattered with bottarga.
Then there are the two fried chicken burgers, both standouts in their own right. One comes with spicy sauerkraut and tonkatsu sauce, and the other is bit like a fancy McChicken, with slaw and a little kick from green-chilli mayonnaise.
Add-ons include house-made XO, hot sauce and garlic oil, plus pantry staples such as jasmine rice, mushroom and oyster sauces, and noodles.
Available for pick-up, or get it delivered (minimum order $40). Some dishes are available on weekends only. Burgers are $14 each and available on Saturdays only.
New East Melbourne brasserie Hemingway’s Wine Room – which has a 1920s Paris-meets-NYC vibe, with refined bistro fare and magnums of wine – was just settling in when Covid hit. Now the team is delivering that experience instead, with a series of banquets.
Feasts might include duck-liver parfait; roast chicken with truffles; and milk-fed veal with potato gratin, or oysters with green apple mignonette; gin-cured ocean trout; and king prawns with peas and tarragon.
There’s also plenty of French and Australian wine. Cocktails include The Hemingway Special, which plays off Hemingway’s famous request for a doctored Daiquiri (sans sugar, extra rum) at La Floridita in Cuba. It’s made with Havana Club three-year-old rum, maraschino liqueur, grapefruit juice, lime juice and a dash of sugar.
Order by 3pm for same-day pick-up or delivery. Delivery costs $10, or free for orders of $120 or more.
When a diner’s menu has barely changed since launch, it’s a good sign. That’s the case at Roman’s Original, a cosy cafe-slash-bar hidden in an old deli in Footscray. And almost everything translates well to takeaway.
Roman’s is by no means a burger joint – sandwiches are the specialty – but the classic cheeseburger is a mainstay, as is the chicken sandwich (Southern-fried, with mayo, pickles and cheese on potato roll) and the all-beef meatball sub.
There are regular, rotating sanga additions though, such as the ebi (prawn) katsu sando. A prawn-mousse pattie, dotted with little prawn chunks, is panko-crumbed and fried until crisp. The chicken Caesar roll comes with bacon, lettuce, smashed boiled egg, and anchovy dressing on a tiger roll from Vietnamese bakery Nhu Ngoc, just around the corner at Footscray Market. The mushroom roll is a satisfying meat-free option – it’s a whole confit field mushroom (cooked in garlic butter) with Swiss cheese on a potato bun. The whole thing is squished in the sandwich press as you would a toastie, so everything melds and holds together.
On the sugary front, this weekend there’s a classic banoffee pie, made with shortcrust pastry, fresh sliced banana and dulce de leche, and topped with whipped cream and shaved chocolate. “It’s pretty decadent,” says owner Leigh McKenny. “I definitely don’t skimp on the dulce.”
Celebrated Scottish-born chef Raymond Capaldi opened Wonder Pies in Collingwood in early July, and he’s just added a Richmond location. At both you’ll find a plethora of pies, some filled with mac’n’cheese, others with Wagyu beef and bechamel. There’s also confit duck, butter chicken and a morning-appropriate pie filled with free-range eggs, smoked bacon and cheddar.
Traditionalists will still find chunky beef and gravy pies, beef-and-lamb sausage rolls and Cornish pasties, and there’s a plant-based option too.
On the sweeter side: oversized chocolate Royals and salted Golden Gaytime doughnuts.
Available for pick-up from 236 Swan Street, Richmond, 128 Langridge Street, Collingwood and the Wonder Pies factory at 4b Kim Close, Bulleen. Delivery is also available Melbourne-wide for $10, or free for orders over $80.
Former Miznon chef Avi Azoulay is behind Babka Boi, an Instagram-based side-hustle-turned-main-hustle, as the story so often goes these days.
Azoulay’s specialty is chocolate-hazelnut babka, but he only makes 20 a week. They’re stocked – and promptly snapped up – at The Leaf Store in Elwood.
The limited run is due to the labour intensive, three-day baking process, but the resulting babka makes up for it in rich, chocolatey intensity. Each one weighs in at almost a kilo thanks to a filling of Nutella, homemade chocolate paste, choc chips and hazelnuts.
If you can't make it to the shop, email Azoulay to be added to the waitlist.
The babkas are available on Fridays only at 111 Ormond Road, Elwood.