With this year's Lexus Melbourne Cup Day fast approaching, the question remains – where will you be celebrating?
Trackside, Flemington Racecourse will be home to some elegant dining options on 5 November. Head to The Terrace Restaurant for an indulgent degustation menu or enjoy world-class hospitality at the exclusive Rose Room. For a more casual affair, grab tickets to The Precinct and enjoy Pontoon's Mediterranean-flavoured menu or burgers by Footscray favourite 8bit. For those hanging at The Park and Hill Square, expect gourmet doughnuts by Slider Diner, Thai snacks by Collingwood's Son In Law and American-style slices by Duke Pizza.
Whether you're planning to take in the action at the track, or raise your Champagne flute at an inner-city Melbourne venue, it's important to find a winning post-Cup meal. Here, we list the best Melbourne restaurants to book a table at on Lexus Melbourne Cup Day.
Carlton Wine Room
Reserve a striped horseshoe booth at the Carlton Wine Room where chef and co-owner John Paul Twomey serves up comfort classics with a modern edge. The Italian-leaning menu doesn't miss a beat, from the ever-changing changing pasta options (a Sardinian-style gnochetti with chicken heart ragu, say, or a marron spaghetti pomodoro) to masterful secondi such as the textural tripe and cuttlefish gratin. Keep the race-day party going with a glass of biodynamic sparkling, or confer with your sommelier for the staff-picked wine of the day. To finish, make the rum baba a top order. Forgot to book? Pull up a seat at the buzzing downstairs bar and fill up on clever bar snacks. You can count on this neighbourhood gem to deliver on race day and beyond.
172 — 174 Faraday St, Carlton, thecarltonwineroom.com.au
Swanston Street's resident mod-Thai eating house will serve as the perfect good-times location come race day. On the restaurant side, you'll find an extensive menu of plates small (sweet potato and coconut cigars) and large (hello, crispy pork belly curry). In the beer hall, you'll find more of those punchy, vibrant Thai flavours in a handy bar-snack sized format. There's a generous wine list, too, and fruit-happy spritzes and cocktails. Plus, from AAMI Victoria Derby Day on November 2 until Kennedy Oaks Day on November 7, the restaurant will celebrate 'Cookie on the Track'. Guests can enjoy a glass of Veuve Clicquot sparkling rosé with ma hor (galloping horses): an appetiser of pineapple wedges topped with a sweet-and-salty mix of minced pork and peanuts. The combo is yours for $25.
Level 1 Curtin House, 252 Swanston St, Melbourne, cookie.net.au
March your friends to Flinders Lane for Supernormal's lobster rolls. Here, chef Andrew McConnell's menu is fuelled by Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul and Hong Kong flavours, and delivered by in-the-know waitstaff who balance formality and fun. Seek their advice on the globetrotting drinks list, but be sure to save room for dessert. It'll be rude not to order the peanut butter parfait with salted caramel.
180 Flinders Ln, Melbourne, supernormal.net.au
This small, beautiful restaurant is at odds with its grungy Balaclava surrounds. At the table, the surprises continue with chef Coskun Uysal's inventive take on Turkish cuisine. There's pide, yes, but it's served with spicy muhammara (red pepper dip), Tulum cheese, olives anointed with oil and flavoured with coffee, and butter capped with a smear of smoked prune purée. Lamb, served raw, is given texture with burghul and subtle heat with Turkish chilli pepper, while desserts include sweet-savoury combinations like tahini ice-cream, cumin caramel and smoked eggplant mousse. Famished after a long day on your feet? The seven-course degustation promises excellent value for the weary Melbourne Cup-goer.
217 Carlisle St, Balaclava, tulumrestaurant.com.au
After the big race, kick on to the CBD for a meal at Flower Drum. The Cantonese restaurant is in its fifth decade of operation, and shows no sign of flagging. The faithful Peking duck remains, but the the kitchen isn't afraid to play around with hew ideas: see the fried barramundi skin tossed in spicy salt, or the giant xiao long bao filled with mud crab and scallop. Service, as ever, is polished and elegant. This is where you go for a masterclass in Cantonese supremacy.
17 Market Ln, Melbourne, flowerdrum.melbourne