Melbourne's top restaurants prepare for sold-out Valentine's Day

Josh Dye
Vue de monde executive chef Hugh Allen is preparing for a busy Valentine's Day.
Vue de monde executive chef Hugh Allen is preparing for a busy Valentine's Day. Photo: Jason South

As Valentine's Day approaches, the restaurant industry is preparing for one of its busiest nights of the year.

Hugh Allen is executive chef at Vue de Monde at the Rialto on Collins Street. Boasting glittering skyline views, a six-course menu with matched wines at Vue de Monde will set a couple back $1000.

Demand is sky-high despite the hefty pricetag, however, and Allen says the restaurant has been booked out for the coming Friday for the past month. 

"Diners on Valentine's Day care less about food and wine and more about the environment and each other," Allen says. "They generally want less interaction with the staff and more alone time."

The chef will offer a set menu for the occasion to try and keep things simple. 

"Couples want to be looked after and not have the pressure of what to order," he says. 

Citing overpriced food and hushed dining rooms, Good Food Guide editor Myffy Rigby says Valentine's Day is "unequivocally the worst day of the year to eat in a restaurant".

"If you truly loved your significant other, you'd cook for them or take them on a picnic and serenade them with a baguette and a few slices of ham," Rigby says.

"Anything rather than booking a set menu in a room packed with countless tables of people eating the same thing. I can't think of a worse torture, personally." 

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In spite of expensive set menus, more restaurant reservations are made for February 14 than any other day of the year. 

Last-minute romantics are plentiful, too. Data from restaurant booking website The Fork has revealed 31 per cent of  Valentine's Day reservations are made within 24 hours of the big date.

The most booked Fork-listed Melbourne restaurants for the occasion are No.35 at Sofitel on Collins, Southbank venues Meat & Wine Co and Eureka 89, and Neil Perry's trio of high-end Crown eateries, Rockpool Bar & Grill, Rosetta and Spice Temple.

For a potential fiancee looking to propose, the most common requests, according to information supplied by The Fork, are window seats, flowers, "balloons and teddy bears placed on the table", tissues, and a specific song to be played at the time of proposal. (Ed Sheeran's Perfect and I'm Yours by Jason Mraz are two of the most requested proposal songs.)

While Vue de Monde regularly gets "two or three proposals a month", Allen says he is yet to witness one on Valentine's Day. 

"Some people do it really under the radar and just drop the question over dinner – that's the most common. Then you get the person who wants to film it and run out flowers. But most of the time it's very low key." 

However, not all restaurants choose to be involved in the proposal process.

"We prefer not to so we don't make any mistakes," says Lara Leigh, manager at Eureka 89, which has a full house of 100 guests booked for Valentine's Day.

"We still have proposals every year," she says. "Coming here to propose is quite special."