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whole flounder at Estelle
Photograph: Graham Denholm

Cheap hacks for fine dining restaurants in Melbourne

Here's how to eat at Melbourne’s best restaurants on a budget

Written by
Time Out editors
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It's nice to feel boujee when you're dining out somewhere, especially if you live a Champagne diet on a beer budget kind of lifestyle. You may not be able to shell out the big bucks all the time, so we've dug up some of the best value hacks for fine dining restaurants for when you want the experience for less.

Check out Melbourne's top 50 restaurants and if you've overspent, here are the city's best cheap eats under $20

Cheap hacks for fancy places

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Collingwood
  • price 3 of 4

Hack… the Smith Street menu

Chef Peter Gunn’s set summer menu at Ides is priced at $160 a head, but saunter on over to the bar counter or dine outdoors and sample the Smith Street menu for a lot less. The concept allows diners to try casual and inspired snacks and drinks. If you're after an extended culinary affair, the venue also offers a four-course Sunday lunch menu for just $70 per person. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 3 of 4

Hack...Lui Bar

At Lui Bar, you still receive the same sweeping views of Melbourne's skyline, have access to Vue de monde's esteemed wine list and have food coming from the same kitchen, you just won't be paying $310 per person for it. Sample Vue de monde's mousse-like lamingtons, bar snacks and schmancy sausage rolls with a Vodka Pour Over in hand.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Northcote
  • price 2 of 4

Hack...The bar menu

The whole proposition at Estelle has received a more casual touch since ESP has become part of the bistro, but that doesn't mean the food is slacking off. If you like to eat, it isn't difficult to spend $100 a head on food alone, so if you're feeling a little skint, we'd recommend hitting up the bar instead. On Tuesdays it's steak night and for $35 per head you'll get a dry-aged steak, chips and a paired glass of wine, while on Wednesdays you can lap up a seasonal French dish (that changes on a monthly basis) with a glass of house wine for $30 per person.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy North
  • price 3 of 4

Hack...the Sunday lunch

This Fitzroy fine diner has been around for over two decades and is as glamorous as ever. If chef Buddha Lo’s five-course tasting menu ($135) is a little too dear, the two course à la carte menu will knock up to $60 off your bill. But the true bargain is the express lunch. You can have two courses and a glass of wine for $55 Wednesday to Friday.

Follow up with a drink

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