Christmas party season has begun. Around this time of year the most common thing I get asked is where is a good venue for a Christmas party or even just Christmas catch up. So I’ve done the leg work and investigated the best private rooms and restaurants with banquet menus who are nice to groups. Don’t think of this just as a Christmas party list many are excellent for hens parties, birthday parties, any kind of party really.
|It’s simple, champagne = party|
Best for a private room
1. The Commoner
One of my favourite restaurants in Melbourne has a range of different rooms you can hire from the cosy upstairs long room that seats 14 to the covered outdoor area which you can book privately for up to 20 seated. There’s a great set menu here called the “Feed Me” menu with lots of food that is good for sharing like plates of charcuterie and baby chickens roasted in the wood fire oven. One of my friends has booked out the courtyard for a function this week and I can’t wait.
Essentials: The Commoner, 122 Johnston Street Melbourne 3065 (Ph: 03 9415 6876) Open Wed – Thurs 6pm – late, Fri – Sun 12 -3pm, 6pm – late. Group dining menu of $65. Various private rooms which seat 10, 14 or 20 or you can have standing functions for larger groups.
|Charcuterie at The Commoner|
2. Casa Ciuccio
As if the downstairs restaurant at Casa Ciuccio is not fabulous enough then the upstairs private room even manages to outshine it. Light filled and beautifully decorated there’s enough room for a sit down dinner for 24. There’s a great set menu featuring Casa Ciuccio’s coal pit roasted meat and I spent a brilliant long lunch there celebrating my friend Jo’s hens day.
Essentials: Casa Ciuccio, 15 Gertrude Street Fitzroy 3065 (Ph 03 8488 8150). Closed Mondays. Private room seats 24 with group dining menus from $65.
|Casa Ciuccio’s beautiful private dining room reflected in the mirror of a vintage side board|
3. Union Dining
For a big group like a work party think about hiring out the huge upstairs room at Union Dining. Chef Nicky Reimer is seriously talented and her new spring menu with dishes like cuttlefish salad will leave everyone satisfied. If it’s a summery night the upstairs room opens out onto Union Dining’s beautiful rooftop terrace.
Essentials: Union Dining, 270 Swan St, Richmond (Ph 03 9428 2988). Dinner from 6pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Lunch from 12pm, Friday to Sunday. Seats 64 in the upstairs room or 90 standing. There is also the option of having 24 seated on one large table. Group menu from $65.
4. The North Fitzroy Star
This cosy little pub has a great room out the back which opens onto a small courtyard. The pub has a relaxed feel but the menu for groups is lovely featuring big plates of chicken studded with pomegranates and tiny shot glasses of different desserts. If you want to kick on after your party just roll into the front bar.
Essentials: North Fitzroy Star, 32/36 St Georges Road South Fitzroy North 3068 (Ph 03 9482 6484). Open Monday to Thursday from 4pm. Friday to Sunday from 11am. Seats around 20 to 30 in the private room.
|Chicken studded with pomegranate at the North Fitzroy Star|
5. Back Street Eating
There is the most fabulous underground room at Back Street Eating in Fitzroy which has a glass wall along one side displaying all different charcuterie cured in house by the chefs. Expect to see the same charcuterie feature heavily on the menu. Not a great choice for vegetarians.
Essentials: Back Street Eating, 152 Kerr Street Fitzroy 3065 (Ph 03 9417 1212). Seats up to 12 people. Group dining menus start from $65. Minimum spend of $800 for the room.
Best for a group dinner in the restaurant
6. The Aylesbury
If you want drinks with friends in the city it’s hard to go past The Aylesbury’s roof top bar. If you’ve got a small group together think about booking The Aylesbury’s big table tucked away at the back of the restaurant. It’s almost like a private room but not quite and
Essentials: The Aylesbury, 103 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne 3000 (Ph: +61 (3) 9077 0451). Open for lunch Mon- Fri 12-3pm and dinner Mon – Sat 6pm – late. The rooftop bar is open Mon – Sat 3pm – late and on Fridays from 1pm. Seats about 16 people. Group dining menus start from $75.
|Pig and fig at The Aylesbury|
7. Gerald’s Bar
There’s a big table you can book for a group tucked right in the front window of Gerald’s Bar. This place may be a bar but the food is top notch as well and I had a great Christmas catch up there with friends.
Essentials: Gerald’s Bar, 386 Rathdowne Street Carlton North, Vic 3054, Australia (Ph 03 9349 4748) Open: Mon – Sat 5pm – 11pm, Sun closed. Seats about 12. Group dining menu from $50 per person.
8. Shark Fin Inn
The most obvious option for group dining is to head to China Town. Where else do you get round tables that are good for actually talking to everyone and of course a Lazy Susan to share food more easily. As far as I’m concerned these should be included in every restaurant. I love Shark Fin Inn for yum cha or a dining feast as well.
Essentials: Shark Fin Inn, 50-52 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000 (Ph: 03 9662 2681). Best for groups of around 10. Banquets start from $36 a head.
|The famous Mamasita corn|
Top tip: Some of Melbourne’s no bookings restaurants which are famously difficult to get into actually allow you to book for their one, large table. At 9. Mamasita there’s a table you can book if you have 8-10 people for the “Feed Me” $66 menu, and at 10. Golden Fields you can book for 8-14 for a banquet menu from $80. Just remember to get in early as these tables book out quickly.