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Published May 20th 2012
"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas…"
Well, not really, but the cold weather is making some of us think of hearty meals and roaring fires, so why not celebrate Christmas in July while you're at it?
There are a number of restaurants in the Dandenongs offering special Christmas in July meals, and with the mercury plummeting, who knows? You might even see a bit of snow on the hills while you're digging into your plum pudding!
With almost all of these venues the standard advice is to book, and book early, as Christmas in July in the hills is a very popular event, and you may miss out if you try to just pop in. The exception is Miss Marples Tea Room, which does not take bookings.
These restaurants all offer their Christmas in July for the whole month but arrangements do vary, so make sure you check with the restaurant when booking. For example, Skyhigh Restaurant only offers its Christmas in July menu on weekdays.
The Cuckoo www.cuckoorestaurant.com.au
The Cuckoo, 508 Mt Dandenong Tourist Road, Mt Dandenong Ph: (03) 9751 1003. Being part-German, I really have a soft spot for The Cuckoo. With a reputation for integrity and superb quality in all that they do (uptight? Who said that?), it's refreshing to see that the Germans also have a bawdy, beery party side to them. The Teutonic delights of the normal smorgasbord are still on offer, but the restaurant is providing special Christmas fare, as well as carols and a visit from a singing Santa during the week.
The food is plentiful – no rocking up to the smorgasbord only to find the dumplings have been cleaned out by the guy ahead of you. You really get your money's worth and can go back for seconds or thirds. Just make sure your belt has sufficient holes in it. The Cuckoo is very kid-friendly, and the band doesn't mind littlies coming up close for a better view. Just watch out for the trays of beer circulating the room! To book, call (03) 9751 1003
View from Skyhigh Restaurant www.skyhighmtdandenong.com.au
With one of the best restaurant views in Melbourne, Skyhigh Restaurant is a fabulous spot to enjoy Christmas in July (available only during the week, not on weekends, and only for lunch). For $26 per person, you will enjoy a two-course set meal; main is a duo of turkey breast and succulent honey-glazed ham with roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables and gravy. (Vegetarian meals are available by prior arrangement – make sure you specify this when you book). Dessert is warm plum pudding with brandy sauce. Tea and coffee are included, as is a glass of lemon, lime and bitters.
For further information or to book, call Graham or Chris (03) 9751 0443.
Marybrooke Manor, 10 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke The very versatile Marybrooke has two offers – one for large groups, and one for more intimate gatherings.
In the main function room, the Christmas in July offering is specially designed for groups of around 20 or more, so it's perfect for clubs. Marybrooke is a grand guest house built sometime between 1927 and 1940, so you'll be dining surrounded by a fine piece of local history.
If you would prefer to dine just with a few of your nearest and dearest, the same menu (for the same price) is being offered by the venue's Baron of Beef Tavern in a slightly less formal environment.
The menu comprises pumpkin soup, succulent roast pork with all the trimmings, plum pudding with brandy custard and complimentary tea and coffee for the very reasonable price of $30 per person. Bookings essential, call Lisa or Eloise for more information on (03) 9755 2755.
The Ivy, 540 Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd, Olinda
The Ivy is offering a traditional roast lunch or dinner every day during July. Reservations are preferred for groups larger than 6, which is wise practice anyway. Note that the Ivy is located on Olinda's main intersection of three roads, so it's likely to be busy, bustling and a little noisy! Call (03) 9751 2388 to book.
Miss Marples Tea Room, 382 Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd, Sassafras
Christmas in July starts a little earlier at Miss Marples, running 25 June to 1 August. However, it's not a formal sit-down lunch, just the addition of a couple of Christmassy specials to their normal menu. There's a sliced turkey breast with cheddar and cranberry sauce 'fancy finger' (which appears to be a type of grilled sandwich), and Christmas pudding with hot brandy sauce.
Miss Marples does NOT take bookings (though it does have a waitlist) and is a popular venue, so would probably not the best choice for a Christmas in July meal for a largish group.
Wild Oak, Cnr Ridge and Mt Dandenong Tourist Roads, Mt Dandenong.
Wild Oak has a special deal for Christmas in July based on their standard menu.
Lunch: 2 courses plus a glass of wine - $34, 3 courses plus a glass of wine - $39.
Dinner: 3 courses plus a glass of wine - $45.
Lunch and dinner are available Wednesday to Sunday only. To book, phone (03) 9751 2033.