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, has a serene sculpture-garden view, and is surrounded by art (most of it free to see). The National Gallery of Victoria’s Garden Restaurant is a tip-top option for a special meal that can also be part of a day out with the parents. There’s food with flair, like roasted chicken breast, Jerusalem artichoke, heirloom carrots, kale and chicken 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 baulk at the suggestion of dining at The Duke Of Wellington. But they’ll be pleasantly surprised by the recent top-to-toe renovation (including cool rooftop views) and the 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 the refined Italian restaurant 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, all of which are handmade.
The French Brasserie
The chic decor says 21st century, but The French Brasserie’s menu is all about tradition. From escargot and cassoulet to 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 just $40 for lunch or $45 pre-theatre.
ENA Greek Restaurant
Can’t afford to send mum and dad on a holiday to the Greek isles? Then treat them to Greek-style street food, smartened up and served with Yarra River views at Southgate’s ENA Greek Restaurant. From a mezze plate and seafood platter with Greek (or Australian) wine to baklava and Greek coffee, it hits the spot, not your wallet.
Everyone loves the buzzing Euro-style vibe of Degraves Street, so taking your parents there is almost guaranteed to be a slam-dunk success. How about Il Tempo, the intimate little Italian restaurant serving timeless faves like antipasti platters, spaghetti carbonara and margherita pizzas. Add some vino and a sweet Nutella strawberry pizza and you’ve got yourself a happy meal.
There’s nothing like dinner with a view to celebrate a special occasion. Berth on Docklands’ New Quay Promenade offers panoramic city and waterfront views without the eye-watering prices you might expect (most dishes are under $30). That calls for a glass of sparkling wine while pondering the sophisticated 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 really 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 (including local Melbourne cheese), and a quality steak, salad and chips is only $18 on Thursdays. Cheers!
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, mushroom risotto, cannelloni, capricciosa pizza, tiramisu and of course wine and 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!