Cheap hacks for fine dining restaurants in Melbourne

How to eat in Melbourne’s best restaurants on a budget
Table at at Matteo's
Photograph: Graham Denholm
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Melbourne's big on cheap eats, but sometimes it's nice to pull up a seat in the city's fine dining establishment. You may not be able to shell out the big bucks all the time though, 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

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Fish at IDES
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants

Ides

icon-location-pin Collingwood

Hack… the Sample Table

Chef Peter Gunn’s set menu at Ides is priced at $180 a head, but score a booking for the Sample Table on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evening and you’ll pay a lot less. The concept allows diners to try a four-course menu of new dishes around a theme that are not on the standard menu for just $70. 

Time Out says
2
Dinner by Heston6.jpg
Restaurants

Dinner by Heston

icon-location-pin Southbank

Hack… the lunch

Dining at a Heston Blumenthal restaurant is never going to be cheap-cheap, but you can try to lessen the sting by booking a five-course lunch (weekends only), which will cost $160, as opposed to the chef’s table set menu, which costs up to $315 per diner. You won’t miss out on too much either – the lunch option features Blumenthal classics like the meat fruit and the bohemian cake.

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3
Cutler and Co
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants

Cutler and Co

icon-location-pin Fitzroy

Hack… the bar

If you don’t have the cash to try Cutler & Co’s main menu, eat at the bar, and that’ll be enough to convince you to save up for the main event. The bar menu is heavy on seafood: splash out on the fruits de mer platter ($38pp) if you can, but if you’re going the grazing route order the smoked sardines on toast and the abalone katsu sandwich. Bartenders also make excellent cocktails at the marble top bar, so splash out on a Martini or a Negroni with your nibbles.

Time Out says
4
Sashimi at Matteo's
Restaurants

Matteo's

icon-location-pin Fitzroy North

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 vegan and vegetarian versions will knock up to $20 off your bill. But the true bargain is lunch. You can have two courses and a glass of wine for $49 Monday to Friday, or opt for the Sunday lunch menu, a four-course journey that will take you through Matteo’s Asian-influenced menu for just $79.

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5
A close up shot of the chocolate caco pod dessert at Lume
Restaurants

Lûmé

icon-location-pin South Melbourne

Hack… the Proposition menu

If you don’t have the dough for the full 14-course degustation ($210), opt for the seven-course Incitation menu, which will set you back $140 (Tuesday-Thursday for dinner, Saturday for lunch). You’ll still experience the out-of-the-box Lûmé experience, and if you get a seat overlooking the kitchen you watch the magic unfold before it lands on your plate. The non-alcoholic drinks pairing is far from boring (the homemade sodas are brilliant) and is $55 per person.

Time Out says
6
A dish at Melbourne restaurant Ezard
Restaurants

Ezard

icon-location-pin Melbourne

Hack… the pre-theatre menu

Ezard’s subterranean dining room has been a Melbourne fine dining mainstay for close to 20 years, though flavours now skew slightly more Japanese than the previous Thai influence. The pre-theatre menu is ideal if you want to squeeze in four courses with enough time to get to the nearby Arts Centre precinct. At $90 a head, the menu shaves nearly $100 off the standard degustation price.

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7
Grossi Florentino pasta
Photograph: Supplied
Restaurants

Grossi Florentino

icon-location-pin Melbourne

Hack… Florentino Upstairs for lunch

The three Grossi Florentino restaurants is on the shinier end of Bourke Street, but it's surprisingly forgiving when it comes to pricing. Florentino Upstairs is the fancier dining room, but opt for the two-course Veloce lunch menu ($65) on weekdays if you’re working to a budget. Alternatively, graze the menu at the Grill for Guy Grossi’s. Lunches there don’t top $50 for three courses. The Cellar Bar, where you can get a killer breakfast for $20 and under, is also a go-to morning spot for the city’s suits.

Follow up with a drink

Whisky and Alement bartender
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Bars, Cocktail bars

The 50 best bars in Melbourne

Time Out's editors tortured their brains (and destroyed their livers) to bring you this: the definitive guide to drinking in Melbourne.

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