The jewel in Britain's culinary crown would have to be the classic Sunday roast, a tradition that purportedly began in the 15th century as an indulgent way for English families to break fast after church. It remains an important weekly ritual adopted by many the world over – including here in Australia. Although beef (or other red meat), potatoes and peas, gravy and Yorkshire puddings are arguably required for an authentic British roast, providing the three key elements – meat, vegetables and accompaniments – are met, interpretations are boundless. Here's where you'll find some of Melbourne's best.
Recent renovations at chef Scott Pickett's Northcote bistro included a menu overhaul. Fortunately the Sunday roast survived the overhaul, even becoming slightly more affordable in the process. Running from March to October, it includes three courses and your choice of wine, a beer or a cocktail. The menu changes weekly and is posted online in advance, so you can book in specifically for the smoked brisket with pickles and mustard and a pecan pie chaser, or the roast chicken with potato lyonnaise, pearl onions and gravy with an apple and pear crumble for dessert.
243-245 High Street, Northcote, theestelle.com.au
Comfortable armchairs and roaring fireplaces already make Neighbourhood Wine an attractive choice for a long Sunday lunch – the three-course roast special makes it essential. The menu changes weekly (it's posted online four weeks ahead) but often starts with something light from the a la carte menu (perhaps glazed pumpkin with hazelnut and chilli). Proteins, sauces and vegetables change frequently – roast beef comes with celeriac and mustard leaf one week, then with red cabbage and mustard jus the next – although Yorkshire puddings are almost always on. If you prefer pork, you can have it here with glazed carrots and a sticky jus. Wine isn't included, but there's plenty on the list to persuade you, if you're that way inclined.
1 Reid Street, Fitzroy North, neighbourhoodwine.com
A drawcard since the restaurant opened in 2012, the Sunday roast at Epocha kicks off with a series of appetisers – perhaps its renowned chicken liver pâté, flecked with crispy chicken skin and chives, or marinated olives, charcuterie or terrine – before moving on to roast pork, lamb, beef or chicken. Like the protein, the side dishes change weekly, but expect crisp duck fat potatoes and seasonal vegetables delivered with the same level of service Epocha is known for. A small dessert, such as poached fruit and mascarpone, will wrap up a lovely Sunday lunch in this charming Victorian terrace restaurant.
49 Rathdowne Street, Carlton, epocha.com.au
With Englishman Michael Slade in the kitchen, a proper Sunday roast is guaranteed at the Northern Git. In the cooler months, the roast rotates fortnightly between beef, lamb and pork with differing sides – think brussels sprouts, cauliflower cheese, and onion gravy with beef; French peas, carrot and swede mash, mint sauce and lentil gravy with lamb; or black cabbage and calvados jus with pork. All come with Yorkshire puddings and roasted garlic potatoes. In the warmer months, red meat is subbed out for roast chicken, which comes with mini Yorkshire puddings, roasted garlic potatoes and carrot and swede mash.
757 High Street, Thornbury, getatgit.com
About a year ago, the Lincoln decided to put on a Sunday roast throughout winter, but it was so popular that it's become a year-round fixture. It changes weekly – maybe apricot and rosemary-stuffed roast chicken, with potatoes, kale, carrots and red cabbage one week, and roast porchetta with cavolo nero and gravy the next. The pub's full a la carte menu is available if you'd like to order starters or dessert to bookend the main course.
91 Cardigan Street, Carlton, hotellincoln.com.au
For Sunday roast with an American smokehouse twist, hit up Fancy Hank's. Its special Sunday roast is running every second Sunday throughout winter. Unlike some of the other options on this list, the winter roast at Fancy Hank's doesn't change – it's always slow-smoked lamb shoulder with spiced molasses and an anchovy glaze, sour pickles with organic yoghurt, winter greens, pickled green beans and lamb dripping potatoes, followed by rhubarb cobbler for dessert. An extra $45 will get you a Tasmanian oyster plate to start.
Level 1, 79 Bourke Street, Melbourne, fancyhanks.com
Both Fitzroy's Town Hall Hotel and the Marquis of Lorne are regularly lauded as roasting some of the best meat in town, so it follows that the roast at Prahran's Mount Erica – a collaboration between the owners of the Marquis of Lorne and the Town Hall Hotel's chef Sean Donovan – would be just as good. As at their other venues (their portfolio includes Richmond's Union House), the roast is available all weekend, not just on Sunday. It changes weekly, but recent examples have included lamb with roast kipfler potatoes, ratatouille and a red wine sauce; veal with creamed leaks, rapini, mash potato and mushrooms; and pork loin with colcannon mash and sprouts.
420 High Street, Prahran, mountericahotel.com.au
A revamped Hotel Esplanade means a revamped Sunday roast special in the Espy Kitchen. It changes weekly – so far, chef Ashly Hicks has put on Western Plains porchetta stuffed with a sauce made from apple and grain mustard, served with kipfler potatoes and sprouts on the side; Flinders Island lamb shoulder with salsa verde, dutch cream potato mash and a leaf salad with a red wine vinaigrette; and wood-roasted beef rump cap with tarragon bearnaise and Yorkshire puddings. It comes in at just $30, which includes a glass of house wine or a pot of beer.
11 The Esplanade, St Kilda, hotelesplanade.com.au
Although chicken sometimes makes an appearance, the keenly priced Sunday roast at the Palace Hotel generally rotates between beef and pork. It comes with a range of sides, including roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes, roast turnips, beans and gravy. Live music on Sunday afternoons makes the package even more appealing, and even better value. And better yet? The pub is pooch-friendly, so even the four-legged members of the family can join you for lunch.
505 City Road, South Melbourne, thepalacehotel.com.au
It's a changing roster of beef, pork and lamb at the Montague, where the Sunday roast is available all year. But the kitchen keeps things interesting by varying cuts and preparation from week to week. Beef might come as wagyu brisket, cooked slowly then served with potato mash and roasted vegetables, or as the more traditional roast with Yorkshire puddings and gravy. Pork might come as slow-roasted neck atop crunchy potatoes and greens, or as a loin with a hunk of crispy crackling and potato fondant.
355 Park Street, South Melbourne, themontague.com.au
The Station Hotel's Sunday roast is considered one of Melbourne's best, and for good reason. Only on during the winter months, it offers dishes such as roast rolled chicken stuffed with chorizo, roast pork (complete with crackling), or lamb, all served with a range of roasted vegetables, gravy or other sauce, salad and Yorkshire puddings. There's a vegetarian option, too, which sees meat subbed out for more roasted vegetables. Wine isn't included, but the pub's list is extremely well priced.
59 Napier Street, Footscray, thestationhotel.com.au