There are a lot of less than inspiring ways you could spend Christmas this year. Someone will probably suggest an outdoorsy thing, perhaps a picnic or barbecue, where an elderly guest brings a suspiciously solid potato salad and there’s dirt in pretty much everything.
Perhaps you’ll visit a distant relative’s house in a forgettable suburb and work your way through mountains of dry turkey. Then there’s the old RSL all-you-can-eat buffet, featuring a thin layer of skin on everything, not to mention the Tina Arena and John Farnham Christmas album from 1999.
Options, options, options… But not to worry. Whilst there is a certain nostalgia to eating a home cooked meal at Christmas, there are plenty of benefits to taking the family out – no battle at the supermarket for the last turkey, no dishes and no worrying about the alcohol running out.
We’ve scoured the city to find the best Christmas eats around, with a maximum of flavour and a minimum of ‘Oh god, grandpa’s stuffing the cutlery down his pants again’-related stress. Here are a few of the best and brightest we’ve stumbled upon.
Offering a four-course feast, Hellenic Republic is sticking to its Greek guns with only a hint of the old holiday ham. Start with pickled octopus, Pastourma (thin strips of air-dried beef) and pork loin marinated in coriander and red wine. Followed by fresh char grilled fish, prawns and scallops, then come the slices of glazed ham cooked spit roast style, beans, stuffed tomatoes and those famous lemon potatoes. To finish, a Greek trifle with spiced brandy jelly and traditional shortbreads to take home on the off chance there’s room for more.
$125 adults, plus wine
$70 children under 12
(03) 9381 1222
The Newmarket is going Latino this Christmas with a menu featuring spit roasted whole baby lamb, quesadillas stuffed with Balmain bugs and wood roasted free-range turkey. Not a hint of the traditional Aussie Chrissy here, with iced peanut parfait, churros and chocolate caramel sauce to finish.
$125 adults, plus wine
(03) 9537 1777
This year, the crew at Vue is focusing on making your Chrissy extra special, serving up dishes that would be tough to pull off at home. The menu features grilled crayfish with garlic butter, game bird terrine and beef with bone marrow and broad beans to name a few. Follow with a French roulade and a series of petit fours – macarons, marshmallow and gingerbread. On top of this, Bistro Vue’s resident accordion player will be bringing down the house all afternoon.
$165 adults, plus $80 for matched wines
$65 children (12-16 years)
(03) 9691 3888
The Point Albert Park
This is not your standard skin-on buffet. The Point is putting together an all out smorgasbord of Christmas classics, like freshly shucked oysters, Crystal Bay prawns and local rockling fillets, followed by roast beef with red wine jus, or pork and apple chutney. For dessert, seasonal fruit is on hand for the overindulged, and cheese platters for the more hardcore. Finally, a traditional plum pudding should put an end to all appetites.
$165 adults, including house wines, beer and soft drink
(03) 9682 5566
St ALi and St ALi North
Both the St ALis are getting festive this Christmas Day. At St ALi North, coffee cured duck with spiced cherry is the main affair. There are also Shark Bay prawns, fresh figs with toasted hazelnuts and honey, Christmas ham ciabatta with white sauce and a summer salad. For dessert, pastry chef Shaun Quade will be making classic Christmas puddings with brandy custard. At St ALi South, there’ll be oysters, turkey and spiced fruit tarts
Mirka at Tolarno Hotel
The Grossi institutions certainly know how to put on a good festive feast. With Grossi Florentino and The Grill both already booked out, you’ll need to move fast. The crew at Mirka have put together a contemporary Italian menu with a twist – try zucchini flowers with ricotta, heirloom tomatoes and olives, or perhaps duck and foie gras pate with Madeira jelly and vinegary pickled vegetables. Follow up with John Dory with a burnt butter sauce, broccolini, preserved lemon and almond paste, but remember to save room for dessert. Traditionalists might go for the standard Christmas pud with crème anglaise, but the must try is ‘The North Pole’, a snow egg of white chocolate, cherries and coconut.
$195 adults, plus wine
Kids menu charged on consumption
(03) 9525 3088
One for the big spenders, Nobu is smashing out high-end fare like there’s no tomorrow. Try seared tuna with watercress, or black pepper cod, balsamic teriyaki and crispy jalapeno. There’s also fresh blue swimmer crab with miso, and it wouldn’t be Nobu without an abundance of fresh sushi and sashimi. For dessert, more miso – this time in a chocolate cherry mille-feuille concoction.
$220 adults, including a glass of Veuve Cliquot.
All venues have advised booking as early as possible, so make like you’re putting together an oversize yuletide knit and get prepared sooner rather than later.