There is nothing quite like a long lunch. In a world where we’re accustomed to inhaling a sandwich at our computers, it’s a treat to share a meal across an afternoon. Enjoy some entrees, an Aperol Spritz, a few courses, and have a whole evening to spare. As we reunite with friends and family, here’s some of Melbourne’s best spots to take in those unhurried lunches.
Farmer’s Daughters is chef Alejandro Saravia’s three-storey tribute to Gippsland’s produce. The CBD space includes a headlining restaurant and rooftop bar, but for lunch you’ll want to grab a spot in the ground-floor deli. The casual diner has plenty of Gippsland cheese and drink to grab on your way out, but the dining menu is where you should aim. Opt for the curated chef’s menu and work through some of the deli’s most popular fare, including cured Lakes Entrance whiting with preserved lemon, lamb rump with broccoli cream and a dessert of Tambo Valley honey custard, bee pollen, cider caramel and shortbread.
American-style barbeque is known for being unhurried – just ask the 14-hour smoked beef brisket – so you’ll want to take your time here, too. During the day you can grab a lunch platter, with a sandwich (the aforementioned brisket, pulled pork or pulled mushroom), fries, coleslaw and a drink. Otherwise, really take your time and share one of the one-of-everything barbeque platters. The Super Premium platter includes the brisket, pulled pork, fried chicken, slaw, devilled eggs, Aperol Spritz and plenty more. Once you’re done lunching, head to Good Heavens upstairs for a cocktail and fresh air.
Builders Arms Hotel
Sunny-day lunches at the pub don’t get much better than at the Builders Arms on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. Andrew McConnell’s pub menu has had a few guises in its time (most recently Chinese restaurant Ricky and Pinky) but these days the focus is on impress-your-friends-level pub food. The cheeseburger (a simple, understated affair) is a proper classic, while the fish pie, with its combo of rockling, smoked trout, prawn and sorrel, is worth the trip alone. To take it slow and steady, though, go for the set menu. It starts with oysters and whipped cod roe and doesn’t let up until the trifle arrives at the end.
Magic Mountain Saloon
Magic Mountain Saloon hosts the sort of long lunch that could easily turn into a big night (when the DJs come out). The neon-lit, three-level venue on Little Collins Street does Thai food covering everything from share-focused small bites to whole barbeque chickens. Grab a yellow curry with braised lamb shanks, whole fried barramundi or the Magic Mountain chicken (which also comes as a half) and load up on sides, or stick to small bites and graze. For the indecisive, there’s a feed-me menu or, on Saturdays, a two-hour bottomless brunch packed with dumplings, bao, spritzes and Bloody Marys.
The refreshed Esplanade Hotel looking over Port Philip Bay in St Kilda has 12 bars and two restaurants (plus food in the main bar). So it’s not out of the question to say your long lunch could spill over into a weekend of exploration. Head to Mya Tiger, the Espy’s Cantonese restaurant, and let the banquet menu guide you. The food just keeps coming, with raw kingfish and yuzu, lamb spring rolls and Wagyu beef with bullhorn peppers among the selection. If you’re more in the mood for gastropub fare, the Espy Kitchen has options like the Moreton Bay bug roll, beef tartare and a massive 750g T-bone steak that will keep you busy.
The European is situated at the top end of Spring Street (near the opulent Hotel Windsor, and retains the charm of old Melbourne. Post-lockdown, the menu is being shared with neighbours at City Wine Shop, featuring a classic, bistro-style menu. There’s St John’s bone marrow (with the obligatory crusty bread), steak au poivre (a 250g porterhouse with green peppercorn sauce) and whole roasted market fish. Start with the caviar, though, to truly make an exceptional lunch worthy of leaning into.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Aperol.