Heading to the Firelight Festival? Check out our hot tips on where to get a good feed before, during or after. From places to feast with family or friends to a romantic dinner for two with a view, Docklands has got you covered. Note that some venues will only be taking walk-ins during the festival – make sure you call ahead to check.
Chow down with your mates
Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq
If you want to refuel and party on at the same time, head to Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq. They’ve got six bowling lanes, 67 arcade games, an interactive XD motion theatre and dodgems at this grown-up playground. Plus indulgent fairground comfort food like hot dogs and waffle fries, and lots of drinks including super-sized cocktails to share.
Three generations of Vietnamese migrants are behind Banoi, which means their Vietnamese street food is authentically awesome – with a modern, Melbourne twist. Share some yummy starters like pork and prawn wontons and maple sriracha chicken ribs. Then tuck into big dishes like pho or maybe try something different like Saigon steamed rice rolled savoury pancakes. On Crispy Fridays, get your favourite dishes with pork belly, from crispy pork cao lau noodle to crispy pork on rice.
Although Squires Loft Docklands call themselves “the steak specialists”, we like to call them all-round legends. Yes, it’s steak heaven, from wagyu porterhouse to Black Angus eye fillet, but there’s so much more in store. Like the seafood platter to share and dessert classics including sticky date pudding, double chocolate fudge cake and Belgian waffles. If you and your mates are looking for a hearty, meaty meal with a bottle of wine or two, walk this way.
The Hof Downtown
Love a good bratwurst, craving a schnitzel or fancy doing a round of schnapps with your crew? Then head to The Hof Downtown, where modern Bavarian food awaits and overflowing bier is just the start of the drink options. Gather round The Platter, loaded with pork knuckle, kransky bombs, chicken wings and more. Or get a big knuckle all to yourself, served with sauerkraut, mash, pork jus and mustard. Beer lovers will relish the nine Bavarians on tap, while cider drinkers’ choices include Hof’s own. How do you say “I’ll take one of each” in German?
After-work watering hole, pub, bar, restaurant and grill. However you want to describe it, Hightail is a top option for starting or ending the night on a high. Catering for up to 950 patrons, this huge space is great for groups. There are 68 local and imported beers on tap, an extensive wine list and cocktails both classic and inventive. Soak it up with food that leans toward sophisticated pub grub, like chargrilled scotch fillet steak and fish of the day.
Romantic dinner for two
Did someone say “dinner with a view”? Located on New Quay Promenade, Berth offers panoramic city and waterfront vistas. That calls for a glass of sparkling wine or a fancy cocktail while you ponder the sophisticated Mediterranean-inspired menu. Start with oysters or a mezze board to share, then move on to mains like swimmer crab risotto and barbecue kangaroo fillet. Psst! There’s a dessert board for more sharing while you watch Melbourne’s lights twinkle.
It may be in a very 21st century Docklands building, but Oscar’s Table evokes the timeless cafe-bars of old Europe. Think leather banquettes, bentwood chairs and pretty jugs of sangria. The menu skips from Spain to Latin America, so you can start with tapas, like patatas bravas and salt and pepper calamari. Move on to paella, Brazilian beef churrasco or chicken fajita. Then end the night with cinnamon-dusted churros and a promise to do it all again soon.
Tucked behind one of the busiest corners in the city centre, Bar Nacional is a haven away from Melbourne’s business district. Under industrial yellow pillars, you’ll find a modern take on classic Spanish fare and a generous local and international wine list. Beer, cider and a compact range of cocktails will please a crowd.
A sleek and chic osteria slash wine bar in the Collins Square precinct, Belluno’s menu makes comfort food sophisticated again. Start off with a delicious stone bake foccaccia drizzled with olive oil before indulging on pasta, risotto, tender meat dishes and more. Our pick is the Maltagliatti Dolomiti, a decadent dish of hand cut pasta, pork, chilli and fennel sausage and fresh radicchio. Date night never tasted so good.
Feed those winter cravings for warmth and carbs at Cargo, where sharing is caring and comfort food is king. The mac ‘n’ cheese croquettes and loaded wedges are a great way to help you all settle in. The kids can then choose from their very own menu that includes mini cheeseburgers and Nutella pizza with ice-cream. For everyone else there’s almost too much to choose from, including three kinds of paella: chicken and pork chorizo, seafood and veggie. Or just keep it simple and order a few pizzas.
Fusing Japanese food’s simplicity and beauty with Western influences, Kobe Jones Melbourne is kind of fancy but very family friendly. There’s a kids set menu (and Japanese lemonade!) so they’ll be happy, while grown-ups can enjoy another fuss-free set menu. Or maybe a luxury bento box or a a sashimi or aburi platter to share. How about going all in together with some dishes served on hot rocks? Have fun cooking everything from exotic mushrooms to baby lobster tail just the way you like it at your table.
With a modern Australian menu that draws on deliciousness from around the world, Platform 28 can satisfy big and little Vegemites alike. This stylishly converted old railway shed has a kids menu on request, and lots of dishes everyone can get into. Like chicken skewers with peanut dipping sauce, crumbed fish and chips, and sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce. They’ve also got the drink you have in mind – perhaps a celebratory glass of Chandon sparkling?
Step one: point the kids at the meals made just for them, like the mac ‘n’ cheese doughnut. They all come with a free drink, ice-cream and activity pack, so that’s a no-brainer. Step two: check out the rest of Woolshed‘s menu, which focuses on local produce, aged meats and fresh seafood. Queensland barbecue bug tail roll anyone? Step three: relax and admire the gorgeous conversion of this heritage-listed building while sipping something special, from cocktail to craft beer. Step four: indulge in a dessert or affogato surrounded by your family’s smiling faces.
Head to What’s On Melbourne for even more Docklands dining options.