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The best degustation menus in Melbourne

Helen Alexander

Senior Contributor

Ever look at your friend’s dinner and wish you’d ordered what they are eating? Banish your fear of food envy and try a little bit of everything the next time you dine out in Melbourne with our round-up of the best-tasting menus and multi-course meals.

Fine-dining favourites

Forget about chasing a Michelin star, chefs across Australia spend their time in the kitchen hoping to be awarded a hat by one of the country’s prestigious Good Food Guide inspectors. So, let’s start with two big-hitters who have secured two stars each. Run by uber-cool chef Shannon Bennett, Vue de Monde’s stylish dining room offers sweeping views of the city from the 55th floor of the Rialto building. With this level of cooking, you know you are in for a treat with the daily-changing seasonal menu and 14-course Chef’s Tasting menu that features luxury ingredients like Tasmanian sea urchin and Western Australian marron. If you really want to splash out, there are three wine matching options available – Benchmark, Prestige and Indulgent. Well-positioned mirrors shine a light on the culinary magic taking place in the kitchen.

Heston Blumenthal’s inventive reinterpretations of historical British dishes were so well received at the Mandarin Oriental in London that he decided to open a second Dinner in Melbourne’s Crown Towers. Available at both lunch and dinner, the degustation menu gives diners a chance to sample the restaurant’s famous Meat Fruit (chicken liver parfait disguised as a plum) and Tipsy Cake – caramelised pineapple that can be seen slowly rotating on the spit-roast. A fine-dining version of a lamington and a vegemite-inspired dessert adds an Aussie twist to proceedings. 

Oysters at Vue de Monde

Credit: Vue de Monde

Embark on an Asian odyssey

People have been queuing round the block for Chin Chin’s fiery fusion food since it opened on Flinders Lane in 2011. A few years later, chef Ben Cooper opened GoGo bar downstairs so that people could enjoy a drink and live DJs while waiting for a table. When you are seated, tell the wait staff you want the Feed Me menu and you’ll be surprised with a selection of favourites from the menu, which is divided into stir-fries, greens, BBQ, curries and salads. From the sticky tamarind chilli duck to the braised beef massaman and salt and pepper silken tofu, every dish packs a flavourful punch. 

A crowded Chin Chin

Credit: Nic Crilly Hargrave

Neighbourhood vibes

The locals were up in arms when chef Scott Pickett closed Estelle in 2018, but now this much-celebrated Northcote restaurant is back and better than ever before. You could sit at the wine bar’s cooper bar and eat oysters, Wagyu bolognese and hand-rolled macaroni with truffle, but why snack when you can splurge? The sophisticated dining room is the scene of a five-course tasting menu that has the option to come with matched wines – the Coravin vacuum-sealed system means the staff are able to serve some seriously good drops by the glass. If you are in town on a Sunday, the three-course Seasonal Roast is an essential eating experience. 

Estelle

Credit: Simon Shiff

Plant-based beauties

South-east Asian flavours are placed front-and-centre at Longrain, but this city-centre restaurant’s second passion is producing plant-based dishes. While the a la carte menu features everything a carnivore could desire, the Vegan Banquet is a multi-course marvel that’s packed with fresh veggies. Toast the street-art tiger who’s staring out from the industrial-chic brick wall, safe in the knowledge you are doing your bit for the animals of the world. Catering for a range of dietary requirements, the team also serve gluten-free and fructose-free menus, as well as a whole host of vegetarian dishes. There’s truly something for everyone.

There’s an even stronger vegan focus over at Shu in Collingwood, where the head chef has applied his fashion designer past to the dramatic dining room – think neon lamps, a psychedelic projector screen and Philippe Starck ‘Ghost’ chairs. Specialising in spicy Sichuan food, there is a 10-course seafood and meat menu and a 10-course vegan menu. However, things get extra-interesting on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when diners are invited to try five experimental plant-based dishes that the kitchen are keen to test out – it’s easily one of the best value menus in town. 

plant-based delights at Longrain

Credit: Eugene Hyland

Daring to be different

Like the sound of a late-cheese bar? Milk the Cow has fromageries on Carlton’s Lygon Street and the beachside neighbourhood of St Kilda, where they showcase 180 kinds of cheese sourced from around the world. To get a taste of a variety of offerings, opt for one of their Cheese & Boutique Beverage Flights in which a selection of natural wines, beers, ciders, gins or Japanese sakes are carefully matched to the complement cheeses and served on a custom-designed board.

D.O.C on the Southbank is another place that’s taking an unusual approach to the traditional tasting menu – their mozzarella bar serves up a three-stage degustation that’s dedicated to the deliciously creamy cheese. If you are off on a road trip to the wineries of Mornington Peninsula, you’ll find a venue there, too.

D.O.C Deli Counter

Credit: Visit Melbourne

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