Whether you’re visiting the Hilton Melbourne for business or pleasure, Luci (“loo-chee”) Restaurant will undoubtedly be a highlight of your stay. It’s the day-to-night nexus of the hotel’s entire food offering, occupying the magnificent, heritage-listed Equity Chambers – Victoria’s oldest continuously occupied barristers chambers – which was built in 1931 on the site of the state’s first synagogue.
Behind the contemporary Australian offering is head chef Jason Lear, who’s spent time cooking at a number of Italian institutions including Grossi Florentino, Cafe Di Stastio and Sydney’s Pilu at Freshwater. In keeping with the Melbourne focus, the all-day menu follows a similar plot line from breakfast through to dinner: mainly Italian influences, with an emphasis on Victorian farmers and producers.
You might start with cichetti (small Italian snacks) such as oysters with fennel mignonette and finger lime; followed by pastas including roast duck, pancetta and pickled shimeji tortellini with fennel purée. Then it’s onto larger dishes (the one-kilogram Florentine bistecca from Gippsland is a highlight) with sides ranging from duck fat kipflers to char-grilled broccolini with bagna cauda and crispy chilli oil.
It’s worth dining here for the space alone – huge geometric chandeliers hang throughout, and cove lighting on each of the columns makes every cornice look its best. A long walkway cleaves the room in two; one side is loungey and casual, the other is where most of the dining happens in either plush velvet chairs or booths.
Luci has a solid drinks list – classic Italian cocktails, natural-leaning wines, a few craft brews. But if you’re after a post-dinner digestif, finish your night at the Douglas Club. It’s the Hilton’s swanky cocktail bar right at the entrance of the building.
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