Celebrating a significant day or event calls for a deviation from routine; something unique to honour the occasion. Whether it's a special holiday, an event like an anniversary or a birthday, or a milestone like an engagement, graduation or job promotion, they key is to choose a location that will be memorable. After all, celebrations are a time when you can show your loved ones how much they mean to you, and the more special the celebration, the longer you'll stay a part of their happiest memories.
One of the most common ways to celebrate an occasion is with lunch or dinner in a nice restaurant. Food is a potent natural reward-driver and key "pleasure" neurotransmitters are released when we eat. Add to that good social connections, a great view, and a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere, and you're on track to guaranteeing a winning celebration for all involved.
With this in mind, here is a list of some of our favourite Melbourne settings for a celebration.
Meat Fish Wine is a restaurant and wine bar in Melbourne's QV precinct. Its farm-to-table style menu, which features a good range of set dinner menus, is a firm favourite among locals, and the impressive wine list means you'll find the perfect drop with which to make a toast. As for the venue itself, from the moment you step foot through the elegant ribcage archway, you'll be spoilt for choice with private dining rooms that seat 6-28 guests, a casual bar setting, and an elegant main dining room. Each space is beautifully fitted out with contemporary decor, featuring natural light by day and ambient light at night.
Meat Fish Wine is an urban oasis in the heart of the city, and makes our top choice for celebrating in Melbourne.
When dining in Richmond, you can't go past Union Dining, an icon in the inner-city suburb. It offers a provincial dining experience that evokes the brasseries and trattorias loved by Chef Nicky Riemer, and for private dining, there's plenty of options.
Union Dining is flexible when it comes to occasions, and you can have as much or as little help in planning your event as you wish. The Wine Room, furnished with rustic oak barrels and endless bottles of wine can accommodate up to 64 guests when seated at round tables, or up to 90 guests for stand-up, cocktail-style. Smaller groups of up to 24 can be sat on one large table. Should you chose to take over the entire top floor, you'll enjoy a spectacular rooftop terrace, a million miles away from the busy streets below.
As for the food, Union Dining focuses on fresh and local produce and offers a three or four course menu for groups.
Established in 1853, The Duke is Melbourne's oldest licensed pub. Recently reopened after extensive renovations, its relaxed contemporary feel and central location makes it an ideal venue when celebrating.
The food at The Duke features modern Australian and international dishes, hearty pub classics and a great selection of share platters. It can be enjoyed from one of a number of private and semi-private spaces, including the popular Duke Bar and Upper Terrace, the freshly opened Level One, or the outdoor deck with its magnificent views over Flinders and Russell Streets.
Nestled in one of Melbourne's most iconic laneways, Coda is very much a part of the city's internationally-famous food scene. A stone's throw from the Yarra River and a short walk to Flinders Street Station, it enjoys hosting a diverse group of diners, from those wanting a quick bite after work to those looking for something special.
The food at Coda may be listed as 'Modern Asian', but the menu has been designed with a passion for balanced flavours and innovation in mind. For groups of 8 or more, you're invited to partake in a set lunch or dinner menu, which includes delights such as zucchini fritters, quail, and a sizzling plate of mussels, prawns, and minced pork with xo sauce, garlic stems and Thai basil.
Cecconi's Flinders Lane is a restaurant and cellar bar in the heart of Melbourne's CBD. Set in an elegant, luxe basement space, it offers a large Modern Italian menu that focuses on the freshest ingredients available and Nonna Olimpia's trade secrets. The flexible space can cater for a variety of events and occasions, from corporate breakfasts and lunches to a romantic anniversary dinner. Their private dining room caters for up to 50 guests, and event manager Mindy will tailor your experience to best suit your needs.
Bokchoy Tang is located on Level 2 of the Crossbar at Federation Square, and offers spectacular views of the Plaza and Melbourne's CBD. The open kitchen is a first in Chinese cooking, and the food is a perfect blend of traditional cooking methods and contemporary dishes favoured by the Western palate.
Seating around 200 people and a further 30 outside, Bokchoy Tang is designed with celebrations in mind. Whether you're a table of two or a table of 20, you'll feel at home in this relaxed and friendly environment. Share a delicious banquet from $42 pp or sample their famous yum cha.
A Bluestone Restaurant experience – be it a daytime lunch to celebrate a promotion or a romantic candlelit dinner to celebrate an engagement – will provide an impressive fare with an emphasis on service. The food is market driven and embraces the best of Australian flavour – cured emu, beetroot carpaccio, chevre, macadamia and kangaroo. The best way to sample it all is with their indulgent 8-course degustation menu.
Taxi Kitchen is one of Melbourne's most iconic restaurants, situated right in the heart of bustling Federation Square. The relaxed, yet elegant restaurant and bar boasts unparalleled views of the CBD, Yarra River, Arts Centre and Southbank, and the food is accessible, affordable, rustic and plentiful all at once.
Taxi Kitchen caters for groups of 12 – 160, and up to 250 for cocktail-style events. Groups are asked to choose from a range of set menus, or the kitchen will tailor a sharing menu to suit your group and occasion. The Taxi Platform, a private dining room, can cater for up to 40 guests and offers spectacular views and a semi-alfresco feel.
Established in 1855 by two Irish brothers who went on to form the Tooheys Brewing Company, the Limerick Arms is a well-known and well-loved South Melbourne pub. It's the perfect place for a relaxed occasion and a delicious pub meal, but it's also ideal for groups looking to hire a private function space.
Kobe Jones has a wonderful philosophy and that is that food should be shared and celebrated. The food is designed to bring the simplicity and beauty of Japanese cooking together with nuances and surprising flavours of the west, and the chefs have created a menu to suit every taste.
Whether you're planning a corporate lunch or cocktail party, the team at Kobe Jones Melbourne are happy to offer advice and assistance in creating a truly impressive event. The layout of the restaurant is flexible and can adapt to suit your needs, and the view is nothing short of breathtaking.
The Golden Gate Hotel occupies a prominent position on the corner of Clarendon and Coventry Streets, and having been recently renovated, it's a great place to dine with friends and family. The Golden Gate offers the relaxed and friendly atmosphere of a traditional pub, but today it caters for even the fanciest of celebrations. Whatever you want from your experience at the Golden Gate Hotel, you'll find it.
In 1981, Nino Cea opened Geppetto Trattoria with the vision to create an unpretentious eatery for the locals. The emphasis was on on home-style Italian cooking and simple rustic dishes and it's a philosophy that still has the locals excited more than two decades on.
Geppetto Trattoria is located opposite the MCG in East Melbourne and still offers BYO (wine only). The restaurant seats 40 people downstairs and up to 35 in a private dining room. A range of function menus are available.
Each of these restaurants are partners of the Good Food Gift Card, meaning that if you can't make the celebration yourself, you can at least send your loved one a gift they will forever cherish. Or, you can give them the gift of good food which they can use to relive the momentous celebration.