The novelty of being able to dine, drink and dance away from the winter blues this year has not been lost on Victoria’s restaurants, who are doing everything to make you feel good.
Hanoi Hannah’s two locations in Windsor and Elsternwick take diners on a whirlwind soup tour of Vietnam. Hu tieu pork broth with tapioca noodles and prawns, lemongrass-enriched hue bun bo and other bowls are part of the soup series’ weekly menu, through August 7. hanoihannah.com.au
CBD restaurant Madonna revives the Sunday tradition of a long family lunch with a set menu ($65) in comfort. Four courses start with salumi, focaccia and other small plates, followed by ricotta gnudi with Napoli sauce and bistecca alla Fiorentina with leatherwood honey. Expect a new round of dishes in the spring. Level 3, 103 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, lamadonnamelbourne.com
Roast dinners also light up on either side of the Yarra. Every Wednesday, Cremorne Wine Bar Frederic features different protein and sides ($35), with the option of adding Yorkshire pudding. Sunday is the day to surrender Ryne to Fitzroy North for three courses by Donovan Cooke ($55), featuring roast beef and a Yorkie. 9-11 Cremorne Street, Cremorne, frederic.com.au; 203 St George Road, Fitzroy North, ryne.com.au
Carlton’s Augustine opens its bluestone cellar all winter for Late Night Records, played by Hope Street Radio DJs every Thursday. Bar snacks like schiacciata flatbread and calamari fritti join vodka and tomato paccheri and other pastas. Jazz bands play the last Thursday of the month. Runs until September. 297 Lygon Street, Carlton, agostinowine.com
The generosity of winter is at the center of Cutler & CoBar menu until the end of August at Fitzroy. Think green-lipped abalone a la meunière, wild game cooked over coals and nettle pasta with winter vegetables, accompanied by Cutler’s vermouth and a few rare wines. 50-57 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, cutlerandco.com.au
Braunschweig Pub Sarah Sands matches the people bar tabs when AFL games are shown in the pub. Start a tab before the game starts and you’ve instantly doubled your food and drink budget. Even if your team is losing, you have at least won one day. 29 Sydney Road, Brunswick, sarahsandshotel.com.au
Contemporary Turkish dinner yagiz introduces Melbourne to one of the country’s most vibrant ways to eat: meyhane. Referring to a venue that offers traveling platters of meze, music and raki, Yagiz will transform into a meyhane on the last Sunday of every month. Cocktails, including a raki version of the Corpse Reviver, and live performances by Turkish bands and musicians will be part of the experience. The next meyhane night is July 31. 22 Toorak Road, South Yarra, Melbourne, yagiz.com.au
Sunday nights are no longer a snoring party, thanks to everyday coffee in Collingwood, which hosts weekly pizza nights in July. Dubbed Ed’s Family Restaurant, the weekly 5-9pm pop-up is hosted by mobile pizzeria The Traveling Pizza Pie. Plenty of craft beers and natural wine from Thank You Bar, plus spinning DJs, guarantee a good time. 36-38 Sackville Street, Collingwood, full details at @everydaycoffee on Instagram.
If you need a good cause to convince you to ditch the couch for a night, CBD bar Yarra Falls has the answer. River Weeks (July 6-16) features upper and lower Yarra beverage producers including Mac Forbes Wine, Melbourne Gin Company and Napoleone Cider, as well as a rotating line of cheeses. A percentage of all revenue is donated to the Yarra Riverkeepers Association, which helps protect the river. Plus, you can get to know the producers at five Meet the Maker nights. 381 Flinders Lane, Melborne, full details at @yarrafalls on Instagram.
The tried-and-true chill-buster that is lasagna is attacking you from all angles this July, thanks to Good Food contributor Dani Valent. Love-In Lasagna. For three weeks, lasagna from all over town will be delivered to your doorstep for your enjoyment. Lasagna Lab kicks off July 14 (orders close July 12), followed by 1800 Lasagna (orders close July 19) and then a Lasagna Festival, featuring stars like Al Dente, Grossi and five more (orders close July 26). That’s a lot of pasta. Maybe it’s time to throw a lasagna night… Menus and ordering information available at https://cookaborough.com/lasagna-love-in
Pub North Fitzroy Playtime knows that sometimes staying home will get the most votes, so he revived his finished meals at home for the winter. European comfort food, like tartiflette, roast chicken or rum baba, are the focus of the boxes, which change every three weeks and come with a flight of drinks. But we think you’ll find it hard to resist the lure of Beef Wellington, offered every Sunday. 162-170 Queens Parade, North Fitzroy, les-loisirs.com
Gnocchi is a next level winter heater. Learn how to make your own with a 3-hour class at It’s Amore cheese (August 27, $125) covering potato and ricotta gnocchi. 2017 MasterChef contestant Pia Gava leads the class, with lunch and wine to finish. 66 Latitude Blvd., Thomastown, thatsamorecheese.com.au
Keep the budget under control by tapping into one of the many happy hours around town right now. Baby Pizza keeps the dream of the Italian Riviera alive with daily specials (3-5 p.m.) on warming Sicilian spritzes and sauces, plus Peroni reds. Italian entertainment house Connie’s is dealing with counterfeits with a 5-6pm deal Wednesday through Saturday. Get any fizzy cocktail and zeppole, savory fritters bursting with pickled anchovies, for $16. Matilda 159 Domain offers mulled wine for a warming happy hour every Thursday and Friday (3-5 p.m.), which is $12 a glass and plays well with a snack menu of sourdough and lime Comte cream. And in Elsternwick, Copycat doubles the fun with two-for-one cocktails from 4-6pm, Tuesday-Sunday.
But if truffles are your favorite part of winter, head to one of the many truffle dinners happening around town by the end of the season. Maha East is doing four courses of all-new, truffle-heavy dishes (July 20) with a matching drink included ($150). Poodle Bar & Bistro offers truffled chook and Alaskan bomb as part of its four-course menu (July 21, $140), while Estelle pairs mushrooms with quail, Murray cod and more on four courses and snacks (July 25 and 26, $130). Society and Kisume also offer special dishes, such as crab, sea urchin and truffle maki, or you can add a few shavings of black gold to any dish.
Outside of Melbourne
The Italian winter ritual of make sausages is honored by a group of Regenerative Farmers from the Hepburn area. Hosted by Village Dreaming Farm and Cooking School, you’ll visit the highly respected Jonai Farm with co-owner Adam Smith before heading to nearby Orto Farm for a butchery and pork sausage-making demonstration (17 July, $198). The day will end with food, wine and a tarantella dance. ORTO Straw Eco Farm, Blampied, villagedreaming.com.au/workshops
At Mount Buller, The villager rewards snow lovers with coq au vin and other French comforts after a day in the elements this season. Soak up the après-ski vibe with savory and sweet (cheese and chocolate) fondues, as well as bistro dishes like cassoulet, duck confit, snails in garlic butter and more. Rhone Valley reds, Chablis and other French wines are joining Australian labels. Downstairs, The Little Villager serves local merchant coffee, treats from the Mansfield Bakery, and raclette toast throughout the day. 2 Avenue, Mount Buller, thevillagermb.com.au