MELBOURNE’S BEST BOOKABLE RESTAURANTS FOR BIG GROUPS
Got an occasion to mark and a gang to toast it with? Nobody wants to feel the party buzz dissipate in a lengthy queue. Here are ten great restaurants where you can book your table ahead. Happy celebrating! By Sarah Jappy Best for: Partying Peruvian-style Warning: whatever you do, don’t Google what an alpaca looks like before you eat at Pastuso. It may dent your enjoyment of this earthy (and very cute) meat, which Pastuso charcoal-grills to melting perfection. Meals here are sociable – everything on the menu is designed for sharing – and plenty of fun, thanks to zingy Pisco Sours and the playful street art-style fitout. Don’t miss Snapper ceviche and a Pisco Sour. Vegetarian-friendly? Yes: plenty of salads. Gluten-free options? Most items from the ceviche bar are GF and some mains are, too. 19 ACDC Ln, Melbourne 3000. 03 9662 4556. pastuso.com.au. Daily noon-late.
Best for: Meat-free magic Transformer will woo your meat-shunning crew and your dedicated carnivores alike, thanks to chef Luke Florence’s clever way with what grows in the ground. The fitout is eye-popping: a former light factory given a glitzy rejig with polished concrete, black mesh screens and walls of foliage. Cocktails riff on what’s in season; the sweet-savoury gnocchi with ricotta and blueberry is a sure-fire conversation starter. See review, p46. Don’t miss Tofu-stuffed bao buns. Vegetarian-friendly? Pay attention! GF options? Eighty per cent of the menu is GF. 99 Rose St, Fitzroy 3065. 03 9419 2022. www. transformerfitzroy.com. Tue-sun 8.30am-11pm.
Best for: Wine, cheese and fireside conversations Every neighbourhood should have a Neighbourhood Wine. This European-style restaurant and bar reckons it’s rustic – we reckon it’s reliably brilliant. Chef Almay Jordaan grew up on a Cape Town farm; her rural roots show in the seasonal menu that scorns fashion for quality. Groups of six or more can order from the three-course set menu, washed down with choice picks from Simon Denman’s impressive, 450-strong wine list.