A string of recently opened late-hours diners has Melbourne flocking, not just for the inevitable nightcap but for designer toasties and pulled-pork sandwiches, oysters and crab cakes.
Le Bon Ton, Nieuw Amsterdam, Loch & Key, the Back Bar at Stokehouse City and the newly opened Magic Mountain (from the crew responsible for wee-hours stalwart Choo Choo's, at The Toff in Town) have all started trading in the past 12 months, with some kitchens opening until 6am on weekends.
Will Balleau, co-owner of Collingwood's Le Bon Ton, the New Orleans-themed bar that serves Southern food until six on Friday and Saturday mornings, has been amazed by how many people are turning up late, and not just for the obvious alcohol-sopping properties of chilli-cheese fries. "It seems like a lot of people want to stay out after 1am," he says, and not just the hospitality crowd. "The people in here are from all walks - you couldn't pigeonhole it - and they really want to eat. The amount of food we sell between midnight and 6am is phenomenal; we've had to put on a full kitchen staff to cover those hours. And we're also doing a great trade in oysters and Champagne."
Karen Batson, executive chef at Magic Mountain, says the availability of better food after-hours makes it seem like a more appealing option. It takes the pressure off, she says, "when you know you can get a nice glass of wine and some good food at 1am. People always wanted to eat out late, there just weren't so many good options."
Looking for more Melbourne dining options? Check out our list of the best restaurants in Melbourne.