If you have any say about where your end-of-year work lunch should be, check out these Melbourne restaurants and pubs. They tick a lot of boxes. Affordable – check. Spacious – sure thing. Easy to book? In just a few clicks online for smaller groups, or choose a function package from outdoor barbie buffets to multi-course sit-down celebrations.
Always a staple for Christmas office lunches and this year Chin Chin have pulled together some mouth-watering set menus. For $88 you’ll dine on delicacies like kingfish sashimi, beef tartare and chargrilled brisket. Or, if you want to go all out, $120 will buy you the ‘feast menu’, which includes lobster tails, wagyu beef and Vietnamese iced coffee pannacotta. Available for lunch and dinner for groups of four people or more.
Garden State Hotel
With multiple spaces across three sprawling floors and food options ranging from spiced cauliflower fritters to wagyu cheeseburgers, the Garden State Hotel has got plenty of options. The shady, indoor-outdoor greenhouse-like atmosphere of the beer garden is our top tip at this time of year, with spaces for 20 to 45 of your co-workers. Online bookings are available for up to 20 people.
The Duke of Wellington
Established in 1853, The Duke of Wellington got a swanky modern makeover last year that put it on the office-party hit list. Melbourne’s oldest pub accepts online bookings for up to 20 people, or ask about function spaces seating up to 100 (or book the whole pub for 1000!). You’ve also got plenty of menu choices, like three sharing-style courses for $65 including suitably old-meets-new Beef Wellington croquettes.
Celebrate your Christmas office lunch the Texan way at San Antone. Famous for their unique smokehouse flavours, this year you can try the low and slow-smoked turkey. For just $29, you’ll get a 200g piece of turkey, plus a choice of two sides. Or, if you have a group, you might like to indulge in a whole turkey with all the sides including loaded nachos, mac and cheese, braised cabbage and garlic mashed potato. Plus you’ll each get dessert and a drink for $299 per table of up to 8 people.
State of Grace
Discover Melbourne from above at State of Grace‘s rooftop bar. Think cocktail jugs, pizzas, grazing plates featuring fried chicken and grilled halloumi, and some of the most stunning views Melbourne has to offer. Online bookings are available from Sunday to Thursday.
Pepe’s Italian & Liquor
That Exhibition Street restaurant with the huge tree out the front had a makeover recently, so it’s goodbye Trunk, hello Pepe’s Italian & Liquor! In a refreshed Italian-American inspired space of mirrors and white tiles, chow down on antipasto, pizza, pasta and perhaps a glass or two of vino. Book for up to eight online, or ask about their function options, including spilling out into the city centre’s biggest beer garden.
The Federation Square original recently emerged from a major renovation, more spacious and light-filled, and with not one but two sushi trains. Check out the refreshed Chocolate Buddha with your colleagues for Christmas, Japanese style, perhaps sharing lots of sushi, sashimi and izakaya dishes like gyoza and tempura. They take small group bookings online, or ask about the function options. Kanpai!
North Melbourne is blessed with great pubs, including The Leveson, a Victorian-era building with a surprisingly modern interior. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of old-school pleasure on the menu, including a parma with shaved ham and Napoli sauce. It’s a star of the set menus, which range from $50 to $80 per person, or kick back with the $55 American-style barbecue package in the courtyard. Want to keep it simple? It’s easy to book online for up to eight office elves.
Get into summer barbie mode with a sizzling Latin twist at B’Churrasco, which specialises in Brazilian-style barbecue complete with sword-sized skewers cooked over an open fire. They usually only do dinner, but there’s rodizio, or all-you-can-eat, lunches on Fridays leading up to Christmas: 29 November and 6 and 13 December. That’s all the barbecue, including beef ribs, pork loin, chicken wings and sweet pineapple, that you and your co-workers can manage for $49 each. Book online or ask about their function spaces for larger groups. Feliz Natal!
Prince Alfred Rooftop and Bar
A favourite Melbourne Uni watering hole was transformed into the Prince Alfred Rooftop and Bar last year. It’s fancier than before, so that means it’s now perfect for grown-up but fun Christmas lunches with your colleagues – especially on the rooftop when the sun’s shining. There are lots of function spaces and menu options, including stand-up canapes, sit-down lunches from $47 per person, and grazing barbecue packages. Or just book online for up to eight merrymakers.
Merrywell Bar and Dining
While lesser Christmas parties gather around public barbecues elsewhere along the Yarra River, live it up with water views at Crown’s Merrywell Bar and Dining. Enjoy set-menu dishes like salmon tartare and Black Angus porterhouse in schmick function spaces including the private dining room with city vistas or an indoor-outdoor terrace. Or keep it simple with similarly posh à la carte options and online bookings for up to 12 people.
The Boatbuilders Yard
Soak up the maritime history and sweet city views at The Boatbuilders Yard. Built around a heritage shed on an old wooden wharf, this airy riverside venue will put the wind in your team’s sails. They take online bookings for up to 20 of your reindeer-antlered co-workers. Or get in touch about their function options, including barbecue buffets and packages with live taco and paella stations – for up to 1200 people!
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The Crafty Squire
This brewpub has been around since long before Melbourne even really knew that was a thing, so The Crafty Squire knows how to have a good time. Book for up to 20 people online, or check out their function options. There are oodles of spaces for as few as 20 or up to 400, and sharing-style set menus start at $45 for two courses. Tucker includes pork and emu terrine, pan-fried barramundi and pavlova, and of course the beers are pretty good too.
Dine like Italian princes and princesses at the Carlton restaurant owned by Little Italy royalty. The Donnini family opened the University Cafe in 1952, but Donnini’s Restaurant is now the jewel in their crown. Online bookings are available for up to 20 people. For groups of 12 or more choose from three set menus ($55, $65 or $75 per person). Feast on antipasto platters, bruschetta and pasta made daily using free-range eggs and extra-fine 00 flour. Buon natale!