The countdown is officially on! Only five days to go until the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) kicks off for 2019. The MFWF is one of my favourite events of the year and is definitely an event not to be missed in any Melbourne food lover’s calendar.
As part of this year’s festivities, OpenTable is hosting Restaurant Express for the second year in a row due to popular demand. This program was a hit for the festival last year and was designed to offer a special two-course lunch menu with paired beverages for just $40 per head, at over 70 restaurants across Victoria. What incredible value! This week I had the pleasure of previewing a couple of the Restaurant Express restaurants in Melbourne to get a sneak peek of the menu offered at this year’s event.
I’m not the most organised person when it comes to bookings, which is why I love OpenTable as a booking platform. OpenTable is the world’s leading provider of online restaurant reservations and a great way to search which restaurants have available tables. It’s also really easy to find reliable fellow diner reviews (an absolute must for me), check out menus and book a table.
There’s a great range of restaurants taking part in Restaurant Express this year including city based eateries including Maha, Florentino and Lucy Lui just to name a few. Out of towners won’t miss out either with the likes of Jack Rabbit, Dal Zotto Wines and the Cape Kitchen taking part. To check out all the restaurants participating check out the handy map here where you can see all the restaurants divided into region
Here’s a wrap up of the two restaurants I dined at in the preview:
Bang Bang at the Rifle Club (Elsternwick)
What’s not to love about this gorgeous venue set in a park-fronted oasis, once home to the Caulfield Rifle Club in the heart of Elsternwick. Here you can take your taste buds on a tantalising journey through South-eastern Asia including Vietnam, Thai and Laos.
Bang Bang’s express menu features a choice of one entree – crispy chicken ribs, salt and pepper squid or pumpkin and chive cakes. My choice was the crispy chicken wings which were finger licking good, deliciously crispy and glazed in honey, topped with fresh chilli and coriander.
For the main event you can tuck into a wagyu beef jungle curry or a cauliflower yellow curry teamed with mirin marinated cucumbers and steamed jasmine rice. The yellow curry was sensational and beautifully balanced with sweet and salty flavours. I’ve never tried cauliflower in a curry before and this definitely didn’t disappoint with its melt in your mouth qualities. These dishes are matched perfectly with your choice of a glass of red or white, beer or non alcoholic beverage.
Tratorria Emilia (CBD)
One of my favourite Italian restaurants in Melbourne is Trattoria Emilia, a rustic italian trattoria in the heart of Melbourne. It’s a beautiful restaurant with all the Italian charm, warmth and atmosphere, and not to mention delicious food.
Their express menu will change slightly each week depending on what is in season and in the kitchen. For the first course I enjoyed a caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes and sweet basil, seasoned with salt and extra virgin olive oil accompanied by a side of roasted eggplant and crispy kale. No Italian lunch is complete without pasta right? The hand-made tortellini was amazing filled with ricotta and spinach, served with smoked tomato coulis and basil pesto.
Trattoria Emilia offers a beverage of your choice – on the wine list is the aromatic Punt Road Chardonnay or the Heathcote Tellurian Shiraz.
Get in quick to book your place at Melbourne’s best restaurants as part of OpenTable’s 2019 Restaurant Express program, available during Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, 8 – 24 March 2019. Available Monday to Friday 12 – 3pm. To book your ticket, visit http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au/program/restaurant-express. For further dining inspiration, visit www.opentable.com.au.