Michellina van Loder is a freelance writer living on the Surf Coast of Victoria, Australia. She’s passionate about wildlife, native bonsais, reading and writing. You can visit her LinkedIn page here: www.linkedin.com/pub/michellina-van-loder/4
Published January 30th 2015
Outdoor Dining at its Best
From City, to Coast, to Surf: Outdoor Dining Do you ever wish you could dine in the fresh air away from cigarette smoke and pollution? Because let's face it, often, outdoor dining can be near traffic, and smokers filling their ashtrays. Well, wish no more. Here are three outdoor dining venues set up amongst fresh air, and without an ashtray in sight.
MELBOURNE Miyako Japanese Cuisine is a Japanese restaurant that serves gourmet meals with a French influence. It's located in Melbourne's Southbank area, near Crown Casino. Enclosed in a private balcony setting with panoramic views overlooking the Yarra River and the city; this is outdoor dining you won't want to miss. This outdoor dining area can seat up to forty people. All out in the fresh air!
Melbourne city air can be pretty polluted at times, however, this outdoor dining area is tucked up above it all. Watch the boats cruise up and down the river. Sit back and take in the city life, while you enjoy fine dining.
This area is non-smoking, and the door joining the balcony to the rest of the restaurant can be kept closed upon request, which makes this dining area perfect for those who have perfume allergies or just prefer to dine outdoors in fresh air. If pollen is a problem or the Melbourne weather pulls one of its tricks, ask the friendly staff to pull down the plastic weather blinds enabling you to stay protected and still enjoy the fantastic panoramic view!
Indoors, among modern-contemporary traditional Japanese decor and furnishings, there are even more dining options to choose from: a River View dining area that seats ninety people; plus a Teppanyaki zone that can cater for up to forty; a Sushi bar; or, try the Tatami Rooms, which are two traditional Japanese style rooms with tatami floors, which cater for private dining of up to 10 VIP guests (a sectioning door can be opened to accommodate a large party of 20 VIP guests).
Whichever, dining experience you chose, you will enjoy a selection of fine wines and sake. There is the choice of a set menu, or of having it especially tailored for your special occasion or corporate event. We had a birthday party outdoors on the balcony. It was a Fragrance Free event, and turned out to be a great success. Gluten free and special dietary requirements can be catered for.
When For lunch: Monday – Saturday from 12.00 pm – 2.30 pm, and Sunday 12.00 – 3.00 pm For dinner: Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 5.30 – 10.30, and Sunday from 5.30 – 9.30
UR2 Upper Level Southgate Arts & Leisure Precinct
Southbank VIC 3006
03 9699 9201
Bookings can be made online here, or by phone: 03 9699 9201
COAST Jack Rabbit Restaurant, and The House of Jack Rabbit Cafe Jack Rabbit Vineyard, with its majestic views spanning across Corio Bay, sweeping on to the You Yangs, and then across Port Phillip Bay to the city of Melbourne, is the perfect place for a romantic lunch, a family dinner, or to marry that special someone.
While The House of Jack Rabbit is set up café style and you can come whenever you like. Bask in the sun on the deck or sit by the fire in winter. Note: the outdoor dining area is closed in by clear plastic blinds during winter.
Open 7 days, 10.30am - 5pm for wine tastings, sales and cafe style lunch.
Breakfast - Saturday & Sunday from 9am (last orders at 10.45am).
Dinner - Friday & Saturday nights from 6pm
Jack Rabbit Vineyard
85 McAdams Road, Bellarine V 3221
P 03 5251 2223
A lovely one hour and forty minute drive up the coast to Anglesea, you will find McGain's organic café. In a plant rich open space, reminiscent of a French conservatory, quaint tables and chairs are set up, extending out into a pergola area covered in vines. Amongst the romantic scent of exotic Stephanotis, this is outdoor dining at its finest; because even when the weather's not kind, the combination of fixed glass, sliding doors and rollup clear blinds, facilitates an atmosphere that can be enjoyed year round.
This café is wheelchair friendly; and there's clear access via ramps to the disabled toilets. And, McGain's café is child friendly with a seating area set aside for busy young minds to get down with puzzles and books.
Peter and Pam McGain run McGain's Café. They realized their idea into reality after an inspiring visit to France, where they came across the 'Le Potager du Roi' kitchen garden at the Palace of Louis IV, at Versailles. Since 2012, Pam, a dedicated and passionate cook, has aimed to serve customers the best organic foods available. And as someone who visits there often myself, I've found that they've surpassed their goals, exceedingly.
Think traditional home cooked meals made with local ingredients sourced locally and from the organic store next door. Yes, that's right, the McGains also run a fresh food shop on the premises! And, every dish is garnished with flowers or herbs picked fresh from McGain's nursery, itself.
In addition to organic and biodynamic produce, they also stock locally sourced fruit and vegetables and some conventional stock items.
Their coffee is absolutely divine. Roasted by the Coffee Cartel in Geelong. This bean roaster is well known, having recently won 'The Best Roaster' in the Australian Coffee Awards. McGains professional barristers make premium coffee every time using locally sourced Shulz organic milk heated to the perfect temperature in their Lamarzocco coffee machine. Personally, I'll keep going if only for their fine coffee, alone!
However, sitting out in the fresh sea air, nestled in the café hidden within McGain's nursery, and surrounded by coastal bushland is by far the best outdoor dining experience to be found on the Surf Coast.
But wait, there's more: not only do they serve great coffee and delicious treats but they also sell plants in the gorgeous nursery surrounding the café and food store. After your meal, it's well worth taking a stroll around, if only to see the gorgeous fishpond. In this nursery you'll find all your coastal favourites, as well as many varieties of herbs and fruit trees, a huge selection of Australian native shrubs, trees and bushes. Peppered around the paths are traditional flowers and herbs spilling from wine barrels. It really is a sight not to be missed, especially since you won't be going hungry while taking the tour!
McGain's is a popular place on the Surf Coast for locals and visitors to come and buy quality plants, get gardening advice, organic foods and ingredients, score fantastic coffee and enjoy delicious meals. Set up magnificently in amongst the fresh Surf Coast air.
Note: There is a separate garden room that caters for small functions and meetings. However, bookings are a must.