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.
The fact that kitchen staff write their own bad jokes for the crackers 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 offers a five-course banquet that covers all the bases – think pork rilettes, cured rainbow trout, glazed turkey legs and cherry bauble pudding with brandy crème brûlée.
$85 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 their three-course banquet featuring Southern staples like Cajun ham, buttermilk mash, maple-roasted carrots and bourbon sauce. 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.
Adults, $79; children under 16, $30.
51 Gipps Street, Collingwood; (03) 9416 4341
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 trifle, 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, $359 per person. Buffet in the Bourke Room, $319; children 13-18 years, $235; children 4-12 years, $145.
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 spiced Christmas cake. Each two-hour sitting includes a beverage package covering sparkling, white and red wine, beer, cider and soft drink.
Adults, $145; children 12 and under $45.
Flinders Walk, Melbourne; 03 8648 7644
Turkey and ham are off the menu at Ryne, where chef Donovan Cooke reimagines what Christmas lunch should look like. His six-course special serves up the likes of slow cooked maron; pan fried scallops with broad beans and confit chicken wings; beef wellington; and corn-fed roast chicken with a chestnut stuffing. There is, however, pavlova – because some Aussie Christmas traditions are sacred.
Adults, $150; children under 12, $50.
203 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North; (03) 9482 3002
Top image: Hotel Windsor