No doubt a traditional holiday feast has its place in all our hearts, but sometimes (particularly for those hosting) the stress of finding that perfect ham and tackling that enormous beast of a turkey is enough to banish the Christmas spirit out of the best of us. And that’s all before the mountains of dishes and cleaning up to follow.
It’s not too late to have a hassle-free, everything-taken-care-of Christmas spread this year, so hang up the apron and check out these restaurants that are ready to cook you a Christmas miracle.
Christmas Day at Gazi is tradition done the Greek way. Starting with a platter ideal for communal eating, whet your tastebuds with prawns, crayfish and cured salmon, alongside house-made dips and fresh warm pita bread. Next up is a ‘prawn cocktail’ souvlaki followed by turkey from the spit and 12-hour slow roasted lamb. Save some room for the stellar ‘Christmas pudding risogalo’ – layers of salted caramel, rice pudding, shortbread crumble and pistachios.
$120 adults, $70 children (aged 3-12)
(03) 9207 7444
The only hint of a traditional Christmas here is executive chef Brendan McQueen’s Christmas pudding served with brandy custard. Known for its contemporary Asian-inspired menu, the four-course offering at Matteos includes crayfish medallions wrapped in nori, tempura zucchini flowers with fetta and peanut salad, and smoked ham hocks with a shitake mushroom terrine. No turkey is to be had on the mains list; instead try the Chinese-style roasted five-spiced duck breast with Tokyo turnip and Yakiniku (grilled meat) BBQ sauce, or seared wagyu with kimchi-capsicum piperade and miso-shiraz sauce.
$170 adults, $80 children
(03) 9481 1277
The Deck at The Prince
The forecast is looking perfect for Christmas Day, so why not take the family up on the rooftop at The Deck and enjoy a Christmas roast in the sunshine? Forget about prawn cocktails, start with an array of shared seafood entrees before tucking into roasted pork loin with sage sausage and apple marmalade, duck fat garlic potatoes and strawberry pavlova to follow.
$95 adults, $47.50 children (under 12)
(03) 9536 1122
If you’re looking for a high-end spread, PM24 delivers a French Christmas complete with all the fanfare over a five-course meal. After starting with a beet gazpacho with goat’s cheese sorbet, the main event is a pan-seared barramundi with Champagne sauce. Finish up with cheeses and walnut fruit bread, green tea roulade with mascarpone mousse, and the quintessential favourite – macarons.
$155 adults, $80 children (aged 3-12)
(03) 9207 7424
The Prahran Hotel
For $120 per head, adults and children get a three-course meal – beer, cider and wines are included for the adults. With its warm timber décor and lush outdoor greenery, The Prahran Hotel exudes contemporary family Christmas. Entrees are a mixture of shared morsels including lamb fetta meatballs, zucchini flowers and the classic prawn cocktail done with a twist. Carnivores will salivate at the mains – roast turkey and lamb both served with cranberry sauce, gravy and traditional garlic and rosemary potatoes. End on a sweet note with a good old-fashioned Christmas pudding and chocolate tart.
$120 adults, $70 children (under 12)
(03) 9529 2168
Albert Park Hotel
Albert Park Hotel is cooking up a Christmas feast that is a little modern, a little French, and a little Peruvian. Starters include tuna ceviche along with a spiced plum and foie gras, while mains take you on a journey of Parisienne gnocchi, free-range turkey with chestnut and sage stuffing, roast veal and poached hapuka. Black cherry clafoutis tart awaits you for dessert.
$125 adults, $62.50 children (under 12)
(03) 9690 5459
Spending Christmas at the zoo doesn’t ordinarily spring to mind, but with the fun option of dining in the ‘Bong Su’ or ‘Rainforest’ rooms one can be forgiven for wanting to herd the family to Melbourne Zoo. On offer is a four-course (Bong Su) or six-course (Rainforest) option; the main event in the Bong Su room is slow cooked pork with barberry pilav, heirloom carrots and a spiced cherry relish. Prices include a generous drinks package too.
$165 adults (Bong Su room) $195 adults (Rainforest room), $80 children
(03) 9285 9440
Venues are filling fast, so if you’re planning on putting away your oven mitts this year make a booking soon.