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By Libby Curran
October 03, 2017

Where to Make It Rain (Within Reason) on Payday

For when you get that urge to splurge.
By Libby Curran
October 03, 2017


in partnership with

For when you get that urge to splurge.

There's nothing like a tidy payday cash injection to leave you feeling flush and with the urge to splurge. And what better way to treat your hard-working self, than with a big ol' fancy-pants feast? After all, you've got to balance out the stints of cheap eats and Mi Goreng somehow.

Well, to see you through the fruitful times, we've teamed up with American Express to bring you a lineup of some of the city's most splurge-worthy restaurants — venues where you can make it rain and eat like royalty, without burning through your entire pay cheque in one sitting. Not only will these culinary hot spots fill your belly and excite your tastebuds — as well as add to your collection of Amex points — they're also guaranteed to make you feel special, kind of like you've finally made something of your life. Let the feasting begin.

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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    Sibling to the Builders Arms Hotel, Cutler & Co. and Supernormal, Flinders Lane’s Cumulus Inc. is a key part of the Andrew McConnell experience — and one you definitely don’t want to miss. A seamless mix of outstanding food and beautiful design, it’s scored a Chef’s Hat from the Age Good Food Guide every year since 2010, which is proof enough that the Cumulus formula is a winning one. The beauty of this restaurant lies in its restraint. Dishes are unembellished, look effortlessly executed and are made from only the finest of local produce. Settle in for a memorable dinner feast among friends, or enjoy a celebratory tipple in the upstairs wine bar, Cumulus Up.

    Image: Emily Blake.

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    Lucy Liu Kitchen & Bar

    Lucy Liu is one of those classic Melbourne laneway hotspots, pulling the crowds with its low-lit entrance, fun-loving menu and bold attitude. If your idea of culinary heaven lies in cleverly executed Asian flavours over old-world European elegance, consider Lucy Liu your payday go-to. Here, an edgy, neon-laced fit-out backs up a truly exciting menu, featuring yellowfin tuna tataki, a range of stellar house-made dumplings and share-friendly plates like a slow-roasted lamb shoulder with green chilli dahl. Living it up? Opt for Lucy’s five- or seven-course tasting menu, matched to a few of the bar’s vibrant cocktails.

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    After a fire forced a three-year hiatus and extensive renovations, iconic St Kilda venue Stokehouse is back with a bang, dominating that sandy Bayside stretch like no one else can. With the Five Green Star building designed by acclaimed architect Robert Simeoni and interiors courtesy of Pascale Gomes-McNabb, the 130-seat Stokehouse restaurant is a striking setting for indulgence if ever there was one. Gaze out across the water as you flit through the smart, seafood-driven menu and that award-winning wine list. You’ll soon be feeling like a total moneybags.

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    With its edgy interiors, youthful energy and buzz-worthy menu of Asian fusion delights, Andrew McConnell’s Supernormal is guaranteed to leave you feeling fly. It’s more fun and cheeky than the acclaimed chef’s other ventures, though with an offering equally worthy of applause. Roll on in and soak up that vivacious Supernormal atmosphere as you indulge in treats like the famous New England lobster roll and the dessert menu’s legendary peanut butter parfait. The wine list has serious flair, though if a splurge is on the cards, you’ll find it hard to go past cocktails like the Umeshu Spritz and the tropical, tequila-infused Blossom Riddle.

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    One of a new breed of Melbourne wine bar, Embla ditches the stiff, stuffy vibes in favour of a far friendlier model. Brought to you by those clever folks behind The Town Mouse, the Russell Street space is instantly inviting, with a chic yet warm, European charm. Technique-driven, but not pretentiously so, the rotating menu here proves a winning blend of comforting flavours and cheffy flair. You’ll find some seriously sophisticated snacking to match those after-work wine-downs, while a range of larger plates tempt heartier feasts. Meanwhile, the beverage selection is a party in itself, with a globe-spanning lineup to keep even the most adventurous drinkers entertained.

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    As the bustling Flinders Lane eatery that’s spawned six years of perpetual queues and non-stop hype, Chin Chin is a no-brainer for food-focused, payday partying. If you’ve got a group of between 10 and 14, you can try to wrangle a booking, otherwise waiting for a table is just part and parcel of the experience. Tunes and cocktails in the downstairs GoGo Bar prove a pain-free way to pass the time, then it’s onwards and upwards to the main event. Settle in for an extensive menu of snappy, Asian-inspired share fare, matched to an expertly curated wine list and the kind of energy only a Chris Lucas hot-spot can provide.

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    There are few places that instantly make you feel special. Tonka, formerly Honkytonks, is one of them. The staff are warm yet professional, and the room is beautiful, accented by the twirling white installation hanging from the roof. To top it off, there’s the knowledge that Adam D’Sylva — of Coda fame — is running the kitchen, plating up a modern spin on the Indian food of his heritage. What with the punchy flavours, clever flourishes and a wine selection that’s the perfect mix of interesting and accessible, the result is a feed that’ll leave you feeling like a million bucks. Round up the crew for an approachable take on fine dining.

    Image: Brook James.

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    Proudly showcasing the best of contemporary Armenian fare, Sezar offers the kind of dining experience you won’t find elsewhere in Melbourne. And we all know splashing cash is way more fun when it steers you away from the same old, same old. Located in a luxe, moody space on Melbourne Place, Sezar has all the makings of a memorable night out, with a sharing-focused menu punctuated by powerhouse spices that nod to Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Armenian cuisines. Looking to ramp up the celebratory vibes? Get acquainted with the splurge-worthy selection of signature cocktails, which boast flavours like spiced pear, rosewater, fig and pomegranate.

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    Long Chim - CLOSED

    The sights, the sounds and — most importantly — the flavours of a Bangkok street kitchen have arrived in Melbourne and are winning over the masses at David Thompson’s Long Chim. The award-winning and acclaimed chef is working his usual brand of magic here, so expect to be impressed by well-crafted Thai dishes like rolled noodle soup with five spice-braised pork, a vibrant green papaya salad and lamb ribs in spiced coconut cream. To fancify your evening even further, look to the bar’s range of expert cocktail creations, featuring such hits as the coriander-meets-vermouth 555 and the Bangkok Painkiller, made with mandarin sherbet, coconut, pineapple and rum.


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    Casual counterpart to its fine-diner sibling Estelle, this Northcote eatery showcases chef Scott Pickett’s stunning fare in a more down-to-earth setting, encouraging serious feasting without the serious price tag. Here, you can order up a storm from the a la carte menu, or avoid the tough decisions by opting for a three- or five-course chef’s tasting menu. In fact, if you’re in splurge mode, why not go for gold and let the sommeliers select your perfect beverage matches?


    As you drink and dine with your American Express, reap all the sweet rewards of being a Card Member. Explore the many ways American Express has your back here.

    Top image: Brook James.

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