When it comes to wining and dining your significant other, Melbourne presents no shortage of options for the lovestruck. Beautiful spaces, mood-setting ambience and breathtaking views get things off to a perfect start, before the dishes even begin to arrive. Next time you’re planning a date night to remember, consider our picks for the most romantic restaurants in Melbourne – these amorous spots are guaranteed to get you in the mood.
Take your date to Paris without the long haul flight by dining at French Saloon. The intimately chic feel of the restaurant and its elegantly modern French cooking makes this eatery the perfect spot for romantic dinner dates. Our tip: start with oysters and baked comet gougères, before moving onto the duck cassoulet, and finishing on a sweet note with the chocolate marquise with Armagnac custard and hazelnut. C’est bien, trés bien!
First Floor, 46 Hardware Lane, Melbourne
Serving an artful blend of inventive Japanese and European cuisine, this Fitzroy fine-diner is an institution in its own right. Come date night – come to think of it, any night – this revered restaurant has couples queuing out the door. Not least for its seductively chic, industrial-style setting, but for its impressive food selection. It’s seriously next-level. If you’re looking to impress, Cutler & Co never disappoints.
Sit at the bar for fresh seafood platters and fizz or settle into the restaurant to work your way through sumptuous plates of Eugowra quail confit; Jerusalem artichokes with Comté, pistachio purée and Castelfranco; and roast suckling pig served with wood grilled cabbage and anchovy sauce.
55–57 Gertrude St. Fitzroy
For a fancy dinner-date for two, book a table at Flower Drum. With a focus on high-quality food and wine with top service, this intimate and elegant Chinese restaurant serves authentic Cantonese cuisine that will impress your significant other. Perfect for a mid-week rendezvous, to end the date on a sweet note we recommend ordering the banana fritters.
17 Market Lane, Melbourne
A hipster wine bar that serves superlative snacks; a little restaurant boasting an eclectic selection of darn good drops. Whatever you’re in the mood for, Bar Liberty has you covered. Iterations of Old and New World wines guarantee endless tasting notes, whilst the fermented beverage list and selection of ‘fortified things’ will keep your date suitably entertained.
Smaller appetites can nibble on the likes of mussel dip and razorback prawns, whilst hungrier patrons can tuck into heartier plates of Berkshire pork neck with broken rice sauce and pickled shiitake, and XO Goolwa pippies with savoury doughnuts. And for something sweet, don’t miss the brown ale cake with coconut butterscotch and saltbush or the boozy bourbon and seas salt chocolate. Divine.
234 Johnston Street, Fitzroy
Rocking a modern fitout but harbouring an old soul, INES glows with frictionless chatter between lovers and friends. This classy European wine bar pleases all – there’s Italian meatballs on the menu, French wine in the cellar and Ol’ Blue Eyes setting the mood. See the neon sign that says “sometimes you wine, sometimes you booze", though if you ask us, a date night at INES is always a safe bet.
150 Chapel St, Windsor
Serious gourmands will have a ball at this achingly cool food haunt. And with culinary wizard Heston Blumenthal at the helm, you know you’ll be given the five-star treatment. Start off with cocktails at the bar – it would be a travesty to miss out on a tipsy cake milk punch or a eucalyptus and fig-infused Negroni – and soak up the intimately glamorous backdrop of curved leather booths, velvet moss-green armchairs and sultry dark wall panels. Dinner sets the scene for romance right from the off.
For the full experience, opt for the theatrical degustation, which could include rice & flesh: almond cream, saffron, lamb sweetbread and smoked olive oil; spiced duck: duck civet, Jerusalem artichokes, ale and malt; and Lamington Cake (c.1850): raspberry and lemon myrtle, coconut cake and chocolate cream. The ultimate tasting experience.
Crown Towers, Level 3, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank
When a dining experience kicks off with a ceremonial Champagne trolley, you know you’re in for a good night. And in the opulent setting of Grossi Florento, they really pull out all the stops. Crystal chandeliers hang elegantly from the ornate ceiling and ancient murals decoratively line the walls. This has Italian romance written all over it. The food is exquisite, and though it’s on the pricier side, we guarantee it’s more than worth it. This is a dining experience like no other.
Look forward to decadent plates of pillowy gnocchi ripieni topped with veal, mortadella, peas and pecorino; Abrolhos Island scallop accompanied by veal sweetbread, almond and lemon; and succulent duck breast with peverada, plum and fennel. Save room for the caramel-infused buttermilk panna cotta and the hazelnut praline chocolate soufflé.
80 Bourke Street
Impress your date by taking things to the next level – the 89th level to be exact – with a degustation on top of the Eureka Tower. Devour butter poached prawns and some of Victoria’s best regional wines, whilst soaking up the sunset and dramatic 360˚ views. There’s a reason this restaurant is high territory for anniversaries and proposals.
Level 89, Eureka Tower, 7 Riverside Quay, Southbank
Cosy and casual yet effortlessly sophisticated, a reservation at Osteria Ilaria instantly signals good taste and serious intentions. Modern Italian plates like paccheri pasta with crystal bay prawns and sorrel and rhubarb semifreddo with rye and coffee will have you sighing with pleasure, while their list of ace European wines will buy you more date time after the last dish is cleared.
367 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
Whether you choose to sink into a booth, cosy up at the bar or settle by the fireplace, Neptune is full of mood-setting vibes. From the warm lights and dark woods to the lush pan-Euro eats: think whipped roe and bottarga scooped with squid ink crackers and twirls of spanner crab linguine, plus Negronis on tap to really get the conversation flowing.
212 High St, Windsor
Romantic by name, romantic by nature. Deep red leather booths, heart-shaped tables, low lights and natural wines set the scene – they’ve got the formula for date night down pat. Better yet, they serve Napoli-style pizzas and snacks until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays, so you can keep your lover’s company deep into the night.
52/54 Lygon St, Brunswick East
Epocha may physically be within the walls of a cosy 1800s Victorian terrace, but its spirit is far away in the regions of rural France. Start with a glass of sparkling before locking eyes over confit duck with caramelised fennel grapes and strawberry mille-feuille. The intimate, homey feel of the restaurant lends itself to easygoing romance, and the antiques-filled Hannah’s Bar is just upstairs.
49 Rathdowne St, Carlton
Bond over a shared love of good food and wine at this classy Fitzroy French bistro. While the fitout may be modern, the menu is full of classics like chicken liver parfait and mussels marinères. End the meal on a sweet note with crème brûlée and head to nearby Smith St for drinks. Unlike the name suggests, Hell of the North will take you straight to seventh heaven.
135 Greeves St, Fitzroy
Hidden down a laneway and under street level, you and your date will feel stowed away from the rest of the world. Dark wood, dim lights and a smart split layout afford a layer of privacy, while the modern European and Asian menu is full of bright and fresh flavours. Begin with the classic aphrodisiac of oysters shucked to order, dressed in soy mirin and ginger.
141 Flinders Ln, Melbourne
Many a wearied office worker making the 5pm trundle to Parliament Station has peered longingly into the warm glow of Bar Lourinha. Here, couples share both conversation and plates of tapas, alternating murmurs and laughter with bottarga butter-drenched mussels and zucchini flower fritters. Intimate, buzzy and decorated with all sorts of conversation-starting bric-a-brac, it’s the perfect place for both a first date or milestone anniversary.
37 Little Collins St, Melbourne