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16° & PARTLY CLOUDY ON THURSDAY 27 JUNE IN MELBOURNE
By Kat Hayes
April 11, 2018
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Set Menus to Order When You Want to Eat Well But For Less Than $50

Pay less, eat more.
By Kat Hayes
April 11, 2018
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SET MENUS TO ORDER WHEN YOU WANT TO EAT WELL BUT FOR LESS THAN $50

in partnership with

Pay less, eat more.

There's a lot you can do for $50. A single yellow note can get you two tickets to a movie, a tank full of petrol, maybe even a flight to Tasmania (well, just about). But what a pineapple can also get you is a decent amount of food and drink — especially when you think outside of the square a little. Bargain set menu deals can be found around town if you know where to look and what the passwords are (hint: generally it's "feed me").

Melbourne has a staggering number of food and drink options. And, narrowing it down a bit, it also has a heap of set menus for those who like to live fancy but spend less. Live your best eating life and treat yourself to a set menu or a banquet — we've compiled a list of venues for when you feel like a veritable feast. So the next time your stomach is at its very emptiest, browse through. Plus, all these venues accept American Express so you won't even need to fiddle about with cash money at all, just pull out your Amex Card and you'll be good to go.

Got yourself in another dining situation and need some guidance? Whatever it is, we know a place. Visit The Shortlist and we'll sort you out.

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    Usually, when someone returns from a trip, they just come back with a new outlook on life, lots of pictures and maybe a new hairstyle. Well, unless you’re Dean and Jeanelle Mariani — then, you come back with a desire to open a bar. Inspired by the couple’s travels through East Africa, Polepole is a sweet homage to the country’s eastern coastline in the form of a slick city cocktail bar one level above Little Collins Street.

    Its all-you-can-eat meat situation is also slick. On Wednesdays from 5pm, the restaurant serves up serious amounts of African-style slow-cooked meats and side dishes for a mere $49. And the ‘serious amount’ refers to the fact that it’ll keep comin’ till you can’t eat anymore. As with any affordable fest, bookings are recommended.

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  • 6

    Fonda is no newcomer to the Melbourne Mexican scene — it has been around for years. It has also been slowly growing, there are now seven in different locations around Australia.

    The suburbs may vary, but the food doesn’t: it’s quick, fresh, bloody tasty Mexican goodness. While the menus are, across the board, A-plus fare for everyone – from those who want a quick taco nibble to those who have a larger quesadilla-sized hunger – a nice choice is the Feed Me menu. A selection of Fonda’s favourite dishes made to share between two for just 50 bucks (that’s $25 each). The famous charred corn comes with both.

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  • 5

    Occupying a space in a fiercely competitive Fitzroy block — that also houses two cult vegetarian venues, the Vegie Bar and Yong Green Food — this pan-Asian restaurant and bar has still managed to become a buzzing fixture on the strip since it made the move from Smith Street a few years ago.

    The restaurant is spacious, which allows for tables to be generously spaced, creating intimacy, no matter whether you sit at a bar table, on a lounge, in the formal dining space or the outdoor alcove (or in the karaoke room). Pick one of them and order the $49 chef’s selection set menu. For less than a pineapple, you get six dishes and sides with vegetarian and gluten-free options.

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  • 4

    Uncle in St Kilda is known for its casual Vietnamese fare and a rooftop terrace that overlooks Carlisle Street. Its second venue manages to hold onto that same vibe, even though it’s located in the middle of the CBD. The first-floor views through foldout windows and leaf-latticed ironwork afford glimpses of the trees outside. Inside, bamboo furniture and tropical lighting create an appropriately moody atmosphere.

    The menu showcases the level of freshness you expect from great Vietnamese food – and it doesn’t come at a steep price at all. Your lunch option here will cost you a measly $29. Called the ‘lunchtime quickie’, the deal runs until 5pm on weekdays and features a starter, a salad, a curry and steamed rice.

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  • 3

    Internationally recognised for its authentic Cantonese cuisine and exceptional service, Flower Drum has a menu heavy on fresh seafood, meat and modern twists. You’ll find all the Cantonese classics at this lavish restaurant — from silky duck wontons to steamed tofu and delicate pieces of crab to tender Peking duck. It has long been a gold standard of Chinese dining in Melbourne, and for good reason – the lush red carpet, carved wood and impeccable service are only the start.

    This little Melbourne celebrity is perfect for a special occasion or a classy night out. Or to sort yourself out a mighty good lunch. It does a $45 two-course autumn set menu at lunch, which is both a) affordable and b) a good in to saying you’ve been dining at Flower Drum on the reg, no big deal.

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  • 2

    Pizza. It’s delicious. It also has a huge spectrum of quality and authenticity. But Ladro, with outlets in both Fitzroy and Prahran, does it well. Really well. With a sleek interior, wood-fired ovens and an Italian nonna, Zia, making pasta by hand in the kitchen, Ladro does more than just well. Owned and run by business and life partners Sean Kierce and Ingrid Langtry, passion is in abundance — just like the food they create.

    So, now we’ve established that the team at Ladro know how to feed you, let them do just that — head in for the Feed Me menu special. A $45 per-person offering gets you six dishes, including some entrees, a couple of pizzas to share and a salad. You’ll be stuffed full of delicious Italian in no time at all and still won’t even have breached $50.

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  • 1

    Need to cater for vegetarians? No worries – the banquets at Moroccan Soup Bar ($25 per head) will have even the most stubborn carnivore professing their love for vegetarian fare. This homely dining space is popular among locals and only takes bookings for six or more. If you don’t arrive at its 6pm opening time, a busy waitress will give you a time to come back, or you can wait outside.

    Once you’ve got a table, head straight to the banquet and spend your time relaxing with a cup of warm mint tea. The dishes are filled with traditional North African herbs and spices — the legendary chickpea bake is a revered dish here, so make sure you snag a scoop (or two). BYO Tupperware if you know you won’t eat it all — you’ll match the queue of wise soup bar-goers outside toting their own.

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Still searching? For even more spots where you can drink and dine with your American Express (and reap the sweet rewards of being a Card Member), click here.

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