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Where to Get a High-Flying Feed in Melbourne Without Dipping Into Your Savings

From world-class bar snacks to chic seafood lunches, these dining hacks are here to help you save some hard-earned dime.
By Libby Curran
October 22, 2021
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By Libby Curran
October 22, 2021
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WHERE TO GET A HIGH-FLYING FEED IN MELBOURNE WITHOUT DIPPING INTO YOUR SAVINGS

in partnership with

From world-class bar snacks to chic seafood lunches, these dining hacks are here to help you save some hard-earned dime.

Whether you're celebrating a promotion, another lap around the sun or just the fact that you can finally dine out again, an occasion often calls for a high-flying feed. Melbourne is the culinary capital of the country, after all — so there's no shortage of fine diners, top-notch bistros and chic Parisian-inspired bars for you to hit. But just because you're treating yourself, it doesn't mean you have to blow all your savings. In fact, if you change the game plan a little, you can have your cake and eat it too.

In partnership with Great Southern Bank, we've uncovered some dining hacks that let you eat at Melbourne's top spots without having to fork out a fortune. And, if you're someone who tempts financial fate after a few glasses of wine, then Great Southern Bank's hidden savings account feature, The Vault, will help curb that temptation, so you don't dip into the funds that may just buy you a house one day. Result.

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    Headed up by renowned restaurateur Scott Pickett — and with a decade under its belt — Estelle is a northside go-to when a classy feed is on the agenda. The bistro oozes elegance and plates up impressive Euro-accented fare. But there’s no need to save a visit for just a special occasion. Especially when the venue serves up supreme value every Tuesday with its much-loved weekly steak night. For $35, you can enjoy a top-notch dry-aged steak matched with house-made chips and a glass of wine. A very reasonable amount to part with for some award-winning cooking talent, premium ingredients and a seat at one of Melbourne’s most celebrated dining establishments.

    Image: Simon Shiff

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    Behind an unassuming charcoal-hued facade on Smith Street, acclaimed chef Peter Gunn is serving up one of the city’s most innovative dining experiences. In the spirit of accessibility, though, there are a few ways you can sample his culinary prowess without forking out $160 per head for the full degustation. One of those involves venturing in for Ides’ Sunday Lunch Menu, which clocks in at a much more affordable $80 per person. Considering the evening menu is double that, we’d say it’s quite the steal. The kitchen’s offering changes regularly, though its commitment to championing native ingredients remains unwavering. Just remember these are the minds behind that famed MasterChef Australia Black Box dessert, so you’re in very good hands.

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    Soaring 55 storeys above the city, Lui Bar fits the high-flying brief in more ways than one. As the ritzy bar component of famed fine diner Vue de Monde, it’s your ticket to a world-class feed without the commitment of a $310 degustation. The Lui Bar menu takes the concept of snacks to new heights, showcasing clever technique as it reimagines classic Aussie flavours — think seafood rolls starring Western Australian marron; handmade beef sausage rolls with spicy ketchup; and chocolate lamingtons filled with raspberry gel. Add its exceptional cocktails, standout wine list and incredible city views and you’ve got an A-class evening ahead. Most Lui Bar snacks are priced at $9–20 and there’s a $50 per person minimum spend, which is still considerably lower than the full-blown fine dining experience.

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    As the sun begins to dip each day, French-inspired venue Bar Margaux runs a two-hour happy hour. The basement bar calls the occasion Golden Hour, when you can nab a couple of glam food and drink specials. Between 4–6pm (and again from midnight–close), you can wrangle a cosy booth and dabble in a taste of the high life for far less than it might normally cost you. Expect options like the Beggar’s Banquet of oysters, steak tartare, finely-cut frites and a bottle of champagne for $125. Or, escape to the late-night bistros of New York with the Burgers and Burgundy deal, which gets you a bottle of red or white burgundy vino paired with two juicy burgers for $95.

    Image: Parker Blain

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  • 5

    With its neon-lit interiors and punchy Asian fare, this long-running laneway haunt makes for a high-impact dining experience. Lucy Liu’s space is buzzy, the energy high and its kitchen offers a range of set menus that are primed for lively group dinners. If you have a vegan in your midst — or want to watch the wallet — the popular Vegan Lucy banquet is a must. The seasonal menu leans heavily on Thai and Chinese flavours and is packed with plant-based plates like turmeric-spiced cauliflower finished with tofu sesame dressing; Indo-style yellow vegetable curry with tamarind chutney; and caramelised tofu with betel leaf, pineapple and chilli. Best of all? It’ll set you back just $55.

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    One of the grand dames of Melbourne’s Italian dining scene, this stylish restaurant is about as elegant as they come. St Kilda’s Cafe Di Stasio boasts white-clothed tables, art-filled interiors and high-end dining in an intimate setting. But despite the bowtie-wearing waitstaff, a feed here needn’t cost you your savings. Especially if you time your visit to coincide with its Spezzafame menu, which is available daily from 11.30am–5.30pm, at both Cafe Di Stasio and Di Stasio Città locations. Spezzafame is Italian for ‘snack’, but rest assured this feed will satisfy any carb cravings. Priced at a reasonable $39, it features a generous bowl of house-made pasta, bread by Baker Bleu, a glass of wine and a coffee. Pop in for a relaxed lunch or make an early dinner of it — either way, you’ll enjoy a top-quality feed.

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    A Euro-leaning bar and dining room named after the classic gin concoction, Gimlet is a dapperly dressed haven of quality food and exceptional drinks where you can treat yourself at any time of the day. Andrew McConnell’s newest venture is housed in a lofty, heritage CBD building, and it’s a must if you’re seeking a little refinement. If you’re feeling flush, you could feast on its $130 Seasonal Menu. But, if you’d rather cut costs, opt for the Supper Menu, which is available every Friday and Saturday night from 10pm–1am. On this particular menu, dishes cost about $8–25, which is a whole lot cheaper than the set menu. So roll in, commandeer a buttery leather booth and enjoy dishes such as a tuna club sandwich, seasonal pastas, its signature cheeseburger and steak tartare prepared tableside.

    Image: Jo McGann

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    Escape to the South of France with a visit to this chic bistro located in the heart of Richmond. While Noir is known for its contemporary (and fairly pricey) French fare, it does have one affordable feast that’s hard to pass up. The super-popular seafood lunch special will see you sitting down to two courses, plus a glass of top-quality wine, for just $45. If you’ve got a little time (and a few extra dollars) to spare, you can bump that up to two hours of free-flowing vino for an additional $30 per person, which is still quite the steal.

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  • 1

    Melbourne is no stranger to a bottomless brunch, with various incarnations usually on offer all over town each weekend. But go-to CBD taqueria Bodega Underground serves up one of the city’s standouts. Available every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Mexi-Brunch menu sees punters tucking into dishes like chilli and lime-salted wings with chipotle mayo, slow-cooked brisket tacos and crisp churros with dulce de leche. The five-course feed comes in at $69, and included in that price is 90 minutes of free-flowing drinks: take your pick of palomas, spicy micheladas and the much-loved signature Mexi-Mimosa. Bodega Underground also offers an affordable $45 pre-theatre menu, too, if that’s more your style.

    Image: Jean-Louis Carvalho

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Great Southern Bank is empowering Aussies to get clever with their banking. Whether you want to stick to your savings goals with The Boost or hide your house deposit fund from yourself with The Vault, Great Southern Bank helps you get there. For more information on savings tools and home loan options, head to the Great Southern Bank website.

Top image: Gimlet at Cavendish House, Sharyn Cairns

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