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Melbourne restaurants are changing things up amidst the COVID-19 outbreak

By Jess Ho
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Health! Safety! Common decency! We all want it, and we all can't live without it. The news is bleak, supermarkets have been pillaged, and for those of us who have not been panic buying and stockpiling, it is hard to find basic items to make a meal, let alone clean yourself.

What a time to be alive.

We have also been told to practise social distancing, and the flow-on effect of this is that restaurants, cafés and bars have been reporting to us an average drop of 40 per cent in revenue in the last week. This is heartbreaking considering that the hospitality industry was just starting to recover after the bushfires and are now faced with excess stock. Luckily, Melbourne's restaurants are a generous and resilient bunch and are offering services to people including home delivery, rescue packs and even preprepared meals that can get you through these tough times. And think of it this way: you'll be rescuing stock from ending up in the bin and ensuring your favourite venue will still be open when we are allowed to shake hands and hug each other again.

Here's a list of the initiatives from the venues we are aware of. By no means take this as a definitive list, as everything is moving very quickly right now. Please be sure to check the social media accounts of your favourite venue to keep up with what they're doing.

Etta: For those unable to dine at Etta, it is offering special delivery from a takeaway menu (on the website). The staff will personally deliver these dishes to you on foot.

Earl Canteen: Support packs will be home-delivered from Wednesday for people within a 20km radius of the CBD. You will need to get your orders in, online, by 2pm for delivery the next day. Items available will include favourites like sliced ham, cheddar cheese, hummus, granola, loaves of bread and meatballs.

Pinotta: Sadly, Pinotta has closed to the public for the safety of its staff, but it will be offering take-home packs for you to cook at home. Think raw, portioned steak with a side salad and dressing; casarecce with a beef and lentil ragu; bucatini with pine mushrooms and a compound butter; cheese; and FSPs (French Snack Packs) with fries, goats cheese, herbs and salami that you can BYO container with. Each pack will be come with a recipe card so you'll know what to do. Mains are priced at the $10. This is a first-come, first-served scenario.

Theodore's: Head to its website to register for grocery boxes. These boxes can include essentials like bread, eggs and coffee, but can also include seasonal vegetables, fruit, juices, milk and fermented foods.

Babajan: You can order meals for home on its online store (for pick-up only), Uber Eats and Deliveroo, or email through for family meal packs. 

Juanita Peaches: Preorder your food over the phone (03 8060 6664) and call again when you arrive so the staff can either meet you at the front or take it to your car. 

King and Godfree: You'll be able to order lasagnes, pizzas, dry pasta (!), sauces and other deli items to be delivered to your door by ordering online or over the phone.

Burn City Smokers: The crew at Burn City have lowered their minimum order from $250 to $100 and this includes their full barbecue range (brisket, ribs, pulled pork, chicken), vegetarian meals and sides. The delivery fee has also been removed. Order online.

DOC Delicatessen: Stock up on pantry essentials like pasta, sauces, cheeses, salumi, baked goods and ready meals through the Carlton or Mornington store. Order 24 hours in advance via phone or email.

Ides: The kind folk at Ides will be making more staff meal than usual for those in isolation. The team will be walking meals to those around the location of the restaurant, so those in Collingwood and Fitzroy are in for a treat. Reach out by calling or sliding into their Instagram DMs.

Bar Margaux: Craving French food in a crisis? Bar Margaux will be delivering fresh-made meals for you to heat and eat at home, including French onion soup and beef Bourguignon. Call or order online, available from next week.

Ishizuka: This is less for survival and more for luxury, but we all know that you once you have amazing Japanese food, you can't go back. Bento boxes catering for individuals and up to four diners will be available for pick-up between Wednesday to Sunday, 3-7pm. Preordering by email or calling the restaurant is essential.

Tipico: Can't find canned tomatoes? Luckily, Tipico preserved its own sugo at the height of summer and is selling jars for $10 a pop. Prefer a ready-made meal? Lasagnes that can feed two can also be ordered. Both can be picked up from the restaurant or delivered to surrounding suburbs for a $5 delivery fee. Email or call the restaurant directly to order.

Annam and Pho Nom: Jerry Mai is making a roster of ready-meals for you to pick up and either heat up or freeze. All mains at Annam are $18, prices at Pho Nom are yet to be determined. Please check the social media accounts for up to date menus and all orders at Annam will be taken over the phone. Please note, if you spend more than $30 at Annam, Mai will personally shout you a beer or give you a bog roll for free.

Estelle: Wagyu bolognese, lobster bisque and four cheese toasties may seem like a luxury order, but Estelle will deliver it to your door (if you live within a 3km radius) or make these and many other items available for pick-up. Actually, the same deal is available at Scott Pickett's other restaurants with corresponding menu items at Lupo and Matilda 159. Head to the websites, call or email each restaurant to order.

Mister Bianco: Owner and chef Joe Vargetto wants your freezer to look like his mother's. Aside from delivering a range of freshly made and frozen pasta (from fusilli to ricotta gnocchi) and sauces (from cacio e pope to osso bucco bolognese) for free in a Mini for free, Mister Bianco is also selling frozen schnitzels, biased dishes, chicken brodo and daily specials. Call the restaurant for further details and to order. Who knows, Vargetto might even turn up to your door, himself. 

Daughter in Law, Mrs Singh and Horn Please: Chef and owner Jessi Singh will be accepting orders for curries and rice for pick-up at each of his restaurants between 4-9pm with 30% off the bill. Call to order.

Il Bacaro, Marameo, Bar Carolina: Across each of Joe Mammone's venues, you'll be able to order three-course meals for pick-up. Hot tip: you can pick up a bottle of wine to take home as well. There will be dishes like shallow-fried calamari, cavatelli with sausage and tiramisu on the menu. Each venue will offer a different menu, at different prices. Orders will only be taken by phone. 

Fancy Hanks: Takeaway services will commence from March 20, but Fancy Hanks will also be introducing ready meal packs. Packs will be $25 a head, will be vacuum sealed for extended refrigeration and will include smoked meats, pickles, salad, hot sauce and mac and cheese. You can order over the phone or online.

Ish: Don't want to take home a curry that could spill in the bag? Ish is packing bulk orders of curries in vacuum-sealed bags and also selling curry sauces so you can finish the cooking at home. Think korma, moilee, butter chicken sauce, and the like. Spices and instructions will be provided so you can finish off your curry the way it is meant to be enjoyed. On top of that, there is a blanket 30% off of all takeaway items. Call the restaurant to order.

Want to learn of other ways you can keep restaurants open? Read this. Want to check if an event you paid for is still on? Actually, we can't help you there, but this is what has been cancelled.

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