Does the phrase “Christmas dinner” strike fear into your heart? Would you rather hide in the shed than cater for 20 family and friends with a bizarre range of dietary requirements? Is life too short to glaze a ham? Never fear. These Melbourne restaurants are nobly volunteering to give diners the gift of a stress-free festive season.
Donovan Cooke returns to his classical roots at his new restaurant Ryne. Cooke knows a thing or three about the special occasion dinner and on the night before Christmas you’ll be quiet as a mouse when eating his Alaskan king crab with sauternes gazpacho or his Sher wagyu sirloin with cheek and tongue in a red wine fumet. As for the ethereal Champagne parfait in summer berry soup with strawberry sorbet… you’ll be positively speechless.
Adults, $130; children under 12, $100.
203 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North; (03) 9482 3002
The turkey rillettes sandwich is the first sign that Christmas Eve dinner at this funky Carlton wine bar comes with a side order of irreverence. A contemporary take on the traditional Aussie Christmas feast, Henry Sugar nods to our Asian neighbours with the miso-glazed leg ham, our Mediterranean friends with the octopus, potatoes, peas and herbs and swings it back to Old Blighty with a caramel bauble pudding with brandy ice-cream.
$60 per person.
298 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North; (03) 9448 8196
Sofitel has plenty of options for la grande bouffe over Christmas, from Christmas Eve dinner gazing at the city skyline from the white-marble elegance of No35 restaurant to the Christmas Day choices of No35 for your midday meal or dinner or perhaps the buffet lunch in the Grand Ballroom, a family-friendly affair at which Santa is rumoured to be appearing. But we’re also beelining for the Christmas-themed cocktails served throughout the season at Sofitel’s Atrium bar. Made with ingredients such as toasted marshmallow, gingerbread, candy cane sorbet and meringue, they’re sure to give a happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
25 Collins Street, Melbourne; (03) 9653 0000
Le Bon Ton
They do Christmas differently down in the bayou. New Orleans-styled Le Bon Ton makes Christmas lunch the Big Easy, with each 2.5-hour session kicking off in style with Champagne and a selection of oysters before moving on to house-cured and smoked Christmas ham, pit-smoked turkey breast, maple-spiked sweet potato mash and that traditional Christmas side known as mac‘n’cheese. You can get your Americana further on at dessert, when pumpkin pies turn up in the company of white chocolate cream and candied pecans. Over the bar you can push the festive dial up to 11 with drinks such as eggnog, spiced cider, buttered rum and a classic Christmas punch. Yep, you’ll be thanksgiving.
$99 per person.
51 Gipps Street, Collingwood; (03) 9416 4341
Pascale Bar and Grill
Spend Christmas night in the trademark OTT glamorous style of the QT’s flagship restaurant where you’ll be dined, sharing-style, to within an inch of your life with the likes of braised baby abalone and black garlic; confit salmon with pickled onions and saffron beurre noisette; organic roast turkey with chestnut and apricot stuffing; and beef wellington with jus gras. The pièce de résistance? Chocolate soufflé with Christmas pudding ice-cream. Plus there’ll be a roaming cocktail trolley (prices on consumption) to really put the fizz into your feast.
Adults, $170; children under 18, $89
133 Russell Street, Melbourne; (03) 8636 8808
So you’re after the closest thing to an English Christmas? Look no further than Melbourne’s grand dame Hotel Windsor, where stepping inside, past the top-hatted doorman, feels like turning the clock back a century. Buffet lunch in the Bourke Room will include a selection of seafood, roast turkey, baked free-range ham, pork and pistachio terrine and crisp roast kipfler potatoes with garlic and rosemary. And let’s not forget the choice of 13 desserts including chestnut Mont Blanc log, trifle of Christmas spice and stone fruits, mince pies and plum pudding with brandy sauce. The Windsor is also offering a modern Australian degustation lunch in its One Eleven Restaurant.
Lunch in One Eleven Restaurant, $349 per person. Buffet in the Bourke Room, $299; children 13-18 years, $245; children 4-12 years, $165; under 3 years, free.
111 Spring Street, Melbourne; (03) 9633 6000
Arbory Bar & Eatery
Have a very Melbourne Christmas at Arbory, the imaginative refit of the long-disused Flinders Street Station platform running alongside the river. Instagram the iconic city sights as you feast on shared seafood and charcuterie platters, turkey with cranberry sauce and ham and sides and finish with wattleseed pavlova. Each two-hour sitting includes a beverage package covering white and red wine, beer, cider and soft drink.
$145 per person.
Flinders Walk, Melbourne; 03 8648 7644
Top image: Hotel Windsor