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"I've made all kinds of fancy cheesecakes in my time, but nothing really beats the classic combination of strawberries and almonds with a boost from vanilla bean," says Stone. "I could just pile macerated strawberries on top, but why not give your tastebuds a proper party by folding grilled strawberries into the cheesecake batter too? Cheesecakes are elegant and my go-to for celebrations because they taste best when whipped up a day in advance."
Leave the gambling for the track, we're backing these winners for lunch on Melbourne Cup day.
Chiswick at The
The Art Gallery of NSW is the perfect place to channel Flemington's finery. Taittinger on arrival, three shared courses, coffee and petits fours will make for a lunch to linger over. There's also the opportunity to give the trackside glitterati a run for their money in the best-dressed competition. $115 per person. Chiswick, (02) 9225 1819
Gowings Bar & Grill
Gowings turns up the party dial this race day. Festivities begin with a glass of Perrier-Jouët followed by three courses of the restaurant's bistro favourites. Lucky-door and best-dressed prizes make for extra fun. Those who would like to kick on can head to the after-party upstairs in the Gilt Lounge. $125 per person. Gowings Bar & Grill, QT Hotel, 1/49 Market St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 8262 0062
Papi Chulo is bringing trackside seaside with a party-friendly Cup day menu featuring empanadas, hot wings and the signature barbecue platter, followed by warm chocolate-chip cookies. Enter the best-dressed competition, too, if you can manage to keep your fascinator out of the comeback sauce. $100 per person, includes a glass of Moët & Chandon on arrival. Papi Chulo, 22-23 Manly Wharf, Manly, NSW (02) 9240 3000
The festivities at 4Fourteen include sweeps, prizes for the best dressed and a glass of Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve. Food-wise, it's a hearty affair: lime-cured kingfish, beef brisket with pickles, fried bread, and cheesecake mousse among the highlights. $95 per person. 4Fourteen, 414 Bourke St, Surry Hills, NSW, (02) 9331 5399
The procession of dishes on Mr Wong's Melbourne Cup banquet menu gives the horses a run for their money. Among the hits are dim sum, Shandong-style beef ribs, lemon chicken, and baked chocolate ganache with green tea cream, plus a flute of Moët & Chandon to kick things off. Giddy-up. $140 per person, minimum of four guests per booking. Mr Wong, 3 Bridge La, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9240 3000
Head here for a less glitzy (but nonetheless tasty) Cup-day affair. There'll be slow-roasted Ranger Valley rib-eye, house-made aged goat's cheese and chilli-spiked Moreton Bay bugs among the eats, plus a glass of Australian Arras sparkling to set the merriment in action. $120 per person, three course shared menu. Nomad, 16 Foster St, Surry Hills, NSW, (02) 9280 3395
Five courses of robust Italian fare (who's up for creamy-centred mozzarella with Amalfi-style pesto?) with Champagne on arrival, is an excellent excuse to venture to Rushcutters Bay on Cup day. You won't miss any of the trackside excitement, either, with screens, sweeps, best-dressed and best-hat prizes to boot. $135 per person. Popolo, 50 McLachlan Ave, Rushcutters Bay, NSW, (02) 9361 6641
Catch the action with a glass of sparkling in one hand and raspberry mousse stack in the other at Bacchus's Melbourne Cup classic high tea. It includes all the usual dainties, such as scones and finger sandwiches, plus a cocktail on arrival and a glass of Chandon at race time to fuel the fun. $70 per person. Bacchus, Podium Level, Rydges South Bank, cnr Grey & Glenelg sts, South Bank, Qld, (07) 3364 0837
Celebrate race day à la Française with a menu spanning market-fresh barramundi, duck breast with duck confit pithiviers and chestnuts, and dark chocolate mousse with candied hazelnuts. There'll be sweeps, screens and a competition for best-dressed, too. Bonne chance et bon appétit. $75 per person. Boucher, 356 Honour Ave, Graceville, Qld, (07) 3716 0388
Canapés and a three-course lunch accompanied by a glass of Mumm, plus sweeps and competitions are slated to bring the spirit of Flemington to Fortitude Valley's Bucci in full force. $95 per person. Bucci, 15 James St, Fortitude Valley, Qld, (07) 3252 7848
The Grand has become known for its race-day glamour. This year there are magnums of Moët and a holiday to be won and guests can select nourishment from either the restaurant or bar menus. DJs will take the party into the evening and down the home straight. The Grand, 333 Burnley Street, Richmond, Vic, (03) 9429 2530
Terminus's spring racing-themed cocktail menu is on offer any day of the season. On Cup day, however, they're going all out with a Champagne cocktail on arrival, a two-course lunch and, of course, plenty of screens to catch the big event. $65 per person. Terminus Hotel, 605 Victoria St, Abbotsford, Vic, (03) 9427 0615,
The Botanical has options for the breakfast and lunch crowd. During the race, however, it's a four-course deal spanning cobia escabeche, and cheesecake with liquorice and strawberry sorbet. Champagne breakfast and big breakfast $25 per person. Lunch $85 per person, includes a glass of Champagne. The Botanical, 169 Domain Rd, South Yarra, Vic, (03) 9820 7888
The Builders Arms
Leave your fascinator at home and go casual at the Builders Arms, with drinks and a counter meal in the public bar or a more substantial feed from the sharing menu in the bistro. Either way you'll be in the winners' circle. Sharing menu $75 per person. The Builders Arms, 211 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Vic, (03) 9417 7700.
Print Hall - Print Hall Bar and Bob's
The main event at Print Hall's dining room has sold out, but adjoining Bob's Bar is offering a drinks package replete with bubbly and canapés, as well as best-dressed competitions and prizes that'll make for plenty of fun. Drinks package $150 per person. Print Hall, Brookfield Place, 125 St Georges Tce, Perth, WA, (08) 6282 0000
Rockpool Bar &
Yes, there'll be a screen and prizes for the best dressed, but who are we kidding? At Rockpool, the eats are the star of the show. The Cup day three-course menu spans wagyu Bolognese, Cape Grim fillet with café de Paris butter, and almond macaron and crème caramel ice-cream sandwiches. A winning trifecta. $225 per person, includes a Bellini and canapés on arrival, wine, Champagne and beer. Rockpool Bar & Grill, Crown Perth, Great Eastern Hwy, Burswood, WA, (08) 6252 1900
Choose the sit-down or canapé dining option, attach one of the four wine packages (house, Australian, Italian or "best of both worlds"), then add in four big screens, and you have a winning race-day formula. Canapé menu $25 per person (minimum booking 20 people), sit-down menu $72 per person, beverage packages from $48 per person. Lalla Rookh, Lower Ground, 77 St Georges Tce, Perth, WA, (08) 9325 7077
Have some bubbles at home that need breaking out? Head to Ruby Red Flamingo. It's offering BYO on race day to go alongside a four-course Italian-accented banquet menu featuring gnudi, swordfish carpaccio, pasta and char-grilled calamari. $65 per person (bookings for groups of 10 or more only), $12 corkage per bottle (wine only). Ruby Red Flamingo, 142 Tynte St, North Adelaide, SA, (08) 8267 5769
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