Want to treat your folks to dinner in the city? There are several things to keep in mind when choosing a venue. Price (affordable), noise level (not too loud) and most importantly, being able to book. Here are some of our favourites that tick all the boxes.
Garden Restaurant at NGV
It’s one of Melbourne’s most hushed dining rooms, with a serene sculpture-garden view. The National Gallery of Victoria’s Garden Restaurant is a top option for a special meal that doubles as a day out. There’s food with flair, like roasted chicken breast with heirloom veg and jus. Check out the $63 deal of two courses and a glass of wine that will keep everyone happy.
The Duke Of Wellington
Your folks might resist the suggestion of dining at The Duke Of Wellington. But they’ll be pleasantly surprised by the cool rooftop views) and smart-casual menu. There’s something for everyone, from raw salmon bowls to the $25 steak-and-wine deal available all day, every day.
If Becco is a bit beyond your budget, try the more casual, retro-smart Italian sister bistro Lupino. This semi-secluded laneway favourite offers a concise menu that includes six pasta dishes and a few pizzas. And all of it is handmade.
The French Brasserie
The chic decor says 21st century, but The French Brasserie’s menu is all about tradition. From escargot and crème brûlée, it will bring back fond memories of holidaying in France for your Maman and Papa. If the prices are a bit beyond you, say bonjour to the prix fixe options. Two courses and a drink are $40 for lunch or $45 pre-theatre.
Everyone loves the buzzing Euro-style vibe of Degraves Street, so taking your parents there is a guaranteed success. Try Il Tempo, the intimate restaurant serving faves like antipasti and spaghetti carbonara. Add some vino and a sweet Nutella strawberry pizza and you’ve got yourself a happy meal.
Cheap, convenient and you can book ahead. China Red is where it’s at for a fuss-free family meal. Order via the touchscreen and wait in wonder as mouth-watering morsels appear, as if by magic. Watch as skilful noodle throwers and deft dumpling chefs create masterpieces behind a glass window. And don’t forget to order a double serve of the Shanghai xiao long bao. You won’t regret it.
There’s nothing like dinner with a view to celebrate a special occasion. Berth offers panoramic waterfront views without the eye-watering prices (most dishes are under $30). That calls for a glass of sparkling wine to pair with the Mediterranean-inspired menu. Maybe share a mezze board, then move on to mains like linguine marinara or kangaroo fillet. Want to keep watching Melbourne’s lights twinkle? Lemon tart and sticky date pudding are among the sweet temptations to finish the night off.
Even if your parents aren’t into bars, they’ll like this one. After a chic renovation, Kensington’s Hardimans Hotel re-opened as a pretty posh pub in 2018. They’ve taken the good things in life up a notch or two, like having 20 craft beers on tap. Pizzas are wood-fired and topped with fresh ingredients. Their quality steak served with salad and chips is only $18 on Thursdays.
If your mum or dad went to Melbourne Uni, chances are they spent a bit of time at University Cafe back in the day. They’ll be glad to see it hasn’t changed a whole lot, and only for the better, with plenty of Italian classics on the menu. Minestrone, capricciosa, tiramisu and of course wine or espresso. This Lygon Street legend has been doing them right since 1952.
Looking to splurge?
Extra special occasions call for a slightly ritzier affair. And don’t stress – you can still book!