If the thought of cooking another Christmas meal for the family results in sweaty palms and flashbacks to dishes piled high, maybe it's time to consider treating yourself to a merry Christmas lunch at one of Melbourne's finest restaurants. Each of these venues is putting on something special at price points to suit all budgets.
Where to celebrate Christmas
How about an Italian style Christmas lunch, courtesy of Johnny Di Francesco, this year? 400 Gradi delivers a four-course, sharing menu inspried by the flavours of Naples, and it will include meat, seafood and vegetarian options for maximum inclusivity. Drinks can be ordered from Gradi's extensive wine list. Tickets are $200 per person or $50 for children. Bookings are essential.
Tony Twitchett is going to be in charge of a five-course Christmas lunch offering at Taxi Kitchen this year. The menu promises high-end Modern Australian fare and a casual atmosphere in the heart of the city. Taxi Kitchen opens for lunch at noon and tickets are priced at $195 per person.
The Conservatory, the beating heart of Crown's restaurant options, is gearing up to serve an impressive Christmas Day spread. Enjoy a seafood buffet lunch with a glass of Moet or a soft drink on arrival ($230 per person, noon-3.30pm). Alternatively, get stuck into the Christmas Day dinner for $180 per person (sittings are at 7.45pm and 11pm). Bookings are essential.
Transport your tastebuds to France this Christmas at Bistro Guillaume. For $190 per person, you can enjoy freshly shucked oysters with Sterling caviar and escargots persillade, tuna tartare with cucumber, radish and coriander, followed by lobster with cos lettuce, avocado and Avruga caviar. Add a glass of NV Perrier-Jouet Brut into the mix for maximum indulgence points. Delicieux.
The Hotel Windsor hosts one of Melbourne’s most generous Christmas lunches, showcasing Australian seafood like ocean trout alongside the all-important spring lamb. Classic roasts will ensure a glut of tender ham and roast turkey, and for dessert there are 10 options for fruity and spicy palates, becuase let's face it, not everyone is into pud.
This pub offers a little slice of home for Irish expats living in Melbourne. This Christmas Day, The Irish Times is serving a three-course menu of Christmas classics, reminiscent of the festive spreads back home. Tickets are $60 per person - a fine price for hearty food and good craic.
Allegro at the Westin is pulling out all of the stops this Christmas. Enjoy an entree buffet, your choice of a roast followed by something sweet from the Christmas dessert display. Plus, you'll receive a three hour drinks package to keep you well watered. Tickets are $265 per person ($135 for kids) and bookings are essential.
Step away from tradition and dine at the Smith where they will be cooking old Christmas favourites with an Asian twist. Highlights include caramelised pork belly, Asian steak tartare and apricot-stuffed turkey. For your $185 per head you'll be treated to a four-course meal with French sparkling, red, white and dessert wines, as well as beers and soft drink.
Make the most of the holiday season at Novotel on Collins - the team are putting on one heck of a spread to save you the effort on Christmas Day. Get stuck into the carvery station and fresh seafood. The young ones can say hello to Santa (good little girls and boys can look forward to lucky door prizes) and live music performances will keep the vibe light. Tickets are $169 per adult, $89 per teen and $69 per child (children under 6 eat for free).
Fancy Christmas lunch among the clouds? At this sky-high destination guests will receive a festive cocktail and canapes on arrive before sitting down to a four-course feast. The afternoon kicks off at 12.30pm and tickets are $260 per adult, $160 for teenagers (13-17 years) and $80 for children 12 and under. Bookings are essential.
How about a five course Japanese this Christmas? Between midday and 4pm, guests can enjoy five festive courses for $66 per person, or $99 if you're planning to get boozy. The 50 strong list of sake, plum wine and shochu (Japanese hard-liquor, usually made with barley, rice or potato) is worth an honourable mention, too. 'Tis the season, after all.
Stuck for gift ideas?
Even Santa couldn't fault this shopping guide – we've matched Melbourne's best stores to four personality types, from the edgy tastemaker to the thrifty bargain hunter. Just remember, there's nothing like seeing your friend's face light up at a gift that is just so them.