The Best Fine Diner Bars in Melbourne

Updated 2 months ago

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The restaurant reservation race is real, and Melbourne hasn’t been immune. Some of our top fine diners – like Navi and Chae – have been known to book out months in advance. But you can still enjoy a fine-diner experience without the restaurant booking – and at a more accessible price. Melbourne’s fine diners are increasingly raising the bar with a separate spot to drink. And, quite often, eat fancy finger-food or a full meal. These top-tier spots, many of them right next to the restaurant, are worth a reservation in their own right.

  • Can’t get a booking at Navi? You can get a taste of owner Julian Hills’s degustation sans the wait (or price tag). Visit the 20-seat Navi Lounge for snacks like salt-and-vinegar fish skins, lion’s mane katsu sandos, and “ducklava” (or order the tasting menu). Plus, small-batch aperitivi poured by their maker.

  • Lui Bar, Vue de Monde’s sibling venue is also on the 55th floor of the Rialto, on what was the observation deck. It’s complete with a circular bar made from stone, elegant cocktails and bar snacks, and – like the flagship –remarkable city views.

  • Stroll 50 metres from Gimlet to find this intimate 30-seat cocktail bar. In a timber-panelled room that feels of another time, you can order four types of Martini, prawn club sandwiches, and a knockout crème caramel. Plus, enjoy access to Gimlet’s 300-bottle cellar.

  • This sky-high bar – adjoining Atria in The Ritz-Carlton – harks back to the days when hotel bars were at their most fashionable. Ascend to this elegant 30-seat spot for antique cocktails using 100-year-old spirits. It’s overseen by the duo behind world-class cocktail bar The Everleigh.

  • The dark, moody spot is right across the courtyard from Reine, the jewel in the crown of the old Melbourne Stock Exchange. Swing by the eight-seat bar for snacks from the fine diner (think reimagined steak tartare) and excellent wines from Australia and France.

  • If you can’t get in at Japanese fine diner Akaiito, follow the luminous red thread downstairs to find this izakaya-style basement bar. It serves snacks like Wagyu tataki, karaage chicken and crab xiao long bao alongside low-waste cocktails.

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  • This warmly lit bolthole right opposite Amaru is all about fun fine-diner snacks – sans the degustation price tag. And most of the dishes are made to be eaten without cutlery. So, raise a pancetta-topped scallop in in one hand, and a glass of champagne in the other.

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  • The flagship in Andrew McConnell’s restaurant empire is ideal for a special occasion. But a sit-down degustation-style dinner isn’t the only option. At the chic front bar, order cocktails and snacks (including a fruits de mer with oysters, tiger prawns and more) or settle in with a coal-fired O’Connor steak with bearnaise sauce.

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  • If you can’t march to the beat of a full degustation at Ides next door, this moody wine bar is a great option. The intimate 18-seat spot offers a taste of ex-Attica chef Peter Gunn’s fine-diner dishes at a more accessible price. Plus, order creative cocktails and Aussie wines from the on-site cellar.