Need a holiday? Then go to The Baths and rest your eyes on the uninterrupted, hypnotic bay view. This elegant, elevated dining room uses gentle beige tones and sea-blue water glasses as accents. The compact, protein-focused menu seems to take its cue from this natural simplicity, with perhaps a fillet of king salmon, crisp on top, tender within, with pickled zucchini and lightly battered flower.
Details: 251 Esplanade, Brighton, 9539 7007, middlebrightonbaths.com.au
As sought-after as a ticket to the Birdcage in spring and as comfy as a cashmere jumper, a beachside window seat at Donovans remains one of Melbourne's reliable pleasures. Cushioned wicker chairs, ample lounges and beachy homewares keep the mood simultaneously casual and luxe. Order from a menu of modern classics priced at the upper end of the register, delivered by spruce staff.
Details: 40 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda, 9534 8221, donovanshouse.com.au
Over the years there have been numerous diamond rings delivered to tables at this oh-so-romantic bayside restaurant. And why not? Crisp white linen, padded chairs, fine glassware and floating roof sails are a backdrop for unrestricted beachside views through wide windows. The food is equally polished, perhaps rare teriyaki tuna entree alongside a snappy green bean salad with boiled egg, and a separate mix of potato, olive and tomato.
Details: 15 Elwood Foreshore, Elwood, 9525 6933, sailsonthebay.com.au
The temporary Stokehouse looks like something a Hollywood wedding planner dreamt up … perfect sea views, elegant tables, a vaguely warehousey feel, glamorous pots spilling with giant boughs, an elegant portal to greet you. The original Stokehouse was destroyed by fire in January. This single-storey pop-up, courtesy of Harry the Hirer, manages to retain some of the Stokehouse style while being a stop-gap restaurant. And regulars say the food is as good as ever. Fish and chips are a favourite. It's open until Mother's Day (May 11).
Details: 30 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda, 9525 5555, stokehousemelbourne.com.au
Try to arrive at dusk and marvel at the darkening sea and awakening lights of Geelong. On the tip of historic Cunningham Pier, this spacious family brasserie offers smiling service and imaginative food. Expect several seafood options, plus the likes of Mandarin duck or vegetable curry, all with Asian flourish.
Details: Cunningham Pier, 10 Western Beach Foreshore Road, Geelong 5222 6377, baveras.com.au
Full-height windows showcase panoramic views of forest and ocean by day and swaying spotlit gums by night. Chris's Greek heritage is evident, as are knowledgeable food and service. Entrees include octopus braised in red wine and char-grilled, and to finish, ice-creams are house made with faithful Greek flavours such as mastic or honey.
Details: 280 Skenes Creek Road, Apollo Bay, 5237 6411, chriss.com.au
Jack Rabbit Vineyard
Views of sparkling Corio Bay and lush vineyard, through to the city skyline, heighten the romance at this restaurant. Jack Rabbit wines are on show, complemented by an adventurous menu. Golden scallops are elegant alongside ginger hollandaise and apple salad, and kangaroo fillet, smoked duck breast and peach parfait showcase local produce.
Details: 85 McAdams Lane, Bellarine, 5251 2223, jackrabbitvineyard.com.au
Lorne Beach Pavilion
Right on the foreshore, with sweeping Louttit Bay vistas and sunset views, the menu here runs from burgers to seafood linguine, the cafe adjacent trading from dawn till dusk. At night, relax in the restaurant's rattan high-backs with plump scallops on smoked pea puree, or whole baby snapper with baked chats.
Details: 81 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne, 5289 2882, lornebeachpavilion.com.au
The Rocks is the type of place that references its dazzling waterfront location on the plate rather than in the decor. The seafood-heavy menu casts a wide net, (rice-paper rolls one minute, quesadillas and gyozas the next) but the common thread is the great quality. Creamy Coffin Bay oysters are shucked fresh from the saltwater tank, and the scallop betel leaves tingle with finger lime and radish. Service is swift, kind and helpful, and the decking is the place to be for A-grade sea-gazing.
Details: 1 Schnapper Point Drive, Mornington, 5973 5599, therocksmornington.com.au
On the site of an 1860 wharf overlooking tidal flats, Wildfish has the ultimate setting for a seafood restaurant. The white-walled menu is minimally decorated (the view says it all). The kitchen takes pride in sourcing the daily catch, delivered via a short tapas list or in simple entrees and mains such as baked boarfish with seeded mustard and dill.
Details: 40 Wharf Street, Port Albert, 5183 2007, wildfish-restaurant.com.au
Reviews from The Age Good Food Guide 2014.