The news that regional Victoria is out of lockdown was met with a mix of responses from restaurants, cafes and bars. Some are opening, making the extremely limited seating of 10 guests indoors and 20 outdoors work for them, while others are choosing to remain closed or offer a mix of takeaway and dine-in service. Here's a snapshot, region by region.
Of course, greater Melbourne remains under stay-at-home orders and travel to the regions is definitely not encouraged.
BALLARAT, BENDIGO & CASTLEMAINE
Mason's of Bendigo
This champion of local produce is sticking to its generous Mason's at Home menus for the time being. One week you might find lamb shoulder-filled filo cigars paired with pilaf, the next it could be a different cuisine entirely. Cocktails, house-baked sourdough and other add-ons are available.
Available Fri-Sat, pre-order online
Mr Jones, Ballarat
The friendly team at this contemporary Asian diner in Ballarat are giving you plenty of ways to enjoy their hospitality. On Friday and Saturday evenings, choose to dine-in on a $95 banquet menu, or get a banquet for home that includes red curry of barramundi, Chinese-style pork belly and more ($140 for 2 people). You can also book for Friday lunch, dining on the same $95 banquet menu that's offered at dinner.
To book or order takeaway, visit the website
If you've missed the Med flavours of Castlemaine's Wild, bookings are open now for September 23 onwards, when the restaurant will open Thursday to Sunday each week. It's going to feel good to pull up a seat in the gorgeous old fire station again – hurry and snap up a table.
To book visit the website
Ambitious and future-forward tasting menus are yours again, with the reopening of this 17-seater overseen by Alexander Marano and Loudon Cooper. Expect to see spring's finest presented in very clever ways each week with produce from the likes of Day's Walk Farm, Gung Hoe Growers and more. On 10 October, a five-course winemakers dinner with local outfit Minim Wines is happening. Normal hours are Friday and Saturday nights.
To book, visit the website
DAYLESFORD & MACEDON RANGES
CoLab Kitchen Daylesford
Each week, a group of local restaurants bands together to create a take-home menu that shows off the best of the region's cooking talent. This Saturday, you get the pretty and seasonal cooking of Sault, wine-friendly food from The Surly Goat and dessert and a drink from slow-food caterers Spade To Blade. Previous menus have featured Bistro Terroir, Beppe Kitchen and Frank & Connie's.
Available Thu-Sat. Pre-order online
Fook Shing, Kyneton
Get a take-home banquet from this Kyneton favourite and travel through south-east Asia with your tastebuds. Pork belly bao, Thai green curry, eggplant char kwai teow and more are on offer across the two menus for plant-eaters ($45) and meat-eaters ($55).
Available Fri-Sat. View menu via Instagram and order by phone 03 5422 6560
Dhaba at The Mill, Kyneton
All of the rich spices you've been missing in your own cooking are waiting for you at this Kyneton favourite, with chana masala, coconut-based fish curries and more. The dining room is open from this weekend and takeaway is still running in case you can't nab a table.
To book or order takeaway, visit the website
HIGH COUNTRY AND NORTHERN VICTORIA
Terrace Restaurant at All Saints Estate
Lunch at the Terrace is a new experience this spring, with the restaurant's dining room temporarily relocating to the Grand Hall, a 155-year-old building with original brick walls and enormous oak casks dotted around the space. It's open Thu-Sun throughout spring.
Open lunch Thu-Sun. To book visit the website
The estate's restaurant The Muse reopens this Saturday from noon with a set menu you can enjoy overlooking the Goulburn River. Reservations are essential.
For details on hours and how to book, visit the website
Mountain View Hotel
Soak up historic pub vibes at this gem nestled in the heart of the King Valley. Open for lunch and dinner for pub favourites such as steaks, parmas and fish and chips, as well as an extensive pasta line-up, Italian-leaning snacks and a menu for the kids. Heck, you could even book a room for the night. Takeaway dinner service continues.
Open for lunch and dinner daily. To book or order takeaway, visit the website
GEELONG & THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Until restrictions ease further, it's a takeaway-only situation at this French bastion just outside Geelong. On Friday nights you can get three courses of bistro-tastic dishes to heat at home, from rillettes to cassoulet. Saturday mornings are all about a good old-fashioned sausage sizzle, with wagyu baguettes, pastries and sweet treats joining the party, too.
For more information and to order, visit the website
La Cachette, Geelong
Get your taste of one of Geelong's newest and most exciting additions. The dining room is back open with an $85 set menu that will channel the hyperseasonal and hyperlocal focus of chef Matt Podbury (pictured), whose CV includes Captain Moonlite and Lyle's in London.
Open lunch Fri-Mon, dinner Thu-Sun. To book, visit the website
Make a beeline for this seaside spot if you really want to feel the warmth of hospitality. The generous menu of Greek favourites, seafood and top Victorian produce is a strong way to say hello to restaurants again.
Open lunch and dinner Thu-Mon. To book, visit the website
The Long Paddock, Lindenow
Due to the restricted dine-in numbers, this easy-breezy Lindenow spot is offering tables on a first-come, first-serve basis for now. Takeaway is still on offer throughout the day and dinner packs (featuring coq au vin this weekend) are also happening.
Open Wed-Sat 8am-3pm for dine-in and takeaway. No reservations. Visit the website for more information
Sodafish, Lakes Entrance
Can't get a table at this seafood hot spot on the harbour? The fish and chip kiosk will still be in full swing this weekend. While it's not quite the same as ultra-fresh tuna tartare or a bowl of chilli-flecked squid tossed through spaghetti in the dining room, it's hard to go past fried fish and potatoes (pictured). Those who are dining in will be offered a $70 set menu.
To book or find out more, visit the website
Italian farm-to-table restaurant Trulli Kitchen has done all kinds of Covid-related backflips in the past year, hitting the road with a mobile pizza oven, adding a bread program and opening Trulli Outdoor, a wood-fired pizza outlet in the Meeniyan Pantry and Cellar, located opposite the original restaurant. Say hello and pick up a pizza or two this weekend while the family waits for restrictions on dine-in to ease.
Open for dinner Fri-Sat, 82 Whitelaw Street, Meeniyan
Our friends in the Yarra Valley are under the same lockdown restrictions as metropolitan Melbourne, so it's still takeaway-only for venues.
Stay in with a box of goodies from Seville Estate and congratulate yourself on your life choices. You get spiced pork en croute with mandarin and thyme marmalade, a whole rainbow trout with olive, chilli and caper sauce, and toasted gnocchi with pickled pumpkin ($120 for 2 people).
Available Saturday, September 11. To order, visit the website
The Independent, Gembrook
You're in the driver's seat when you order takeaway from this Argentinian-leaning restaurant, which is offering both hot and cold takeaway and not a set menu in sight. Feel like pasta? Choose from casarecce, ravioli or ricotta gnocchi. Want to embrace pisco sours and ceviche? Eat your heart out. Orders must be in by 5pm the day before.
Hot food available Fri-Sat, ready-to-heat available Sat-Sun. To order and view delivery areas, visit the website
Part of greater Melbourne, the Peninsula is still under lockdown and venues can only offer takeaway.
Each week the team from Jackalope's fun and feisty diner are keeping locals on their toes with finish-at-home menus that have travelled from the pub to South America and more. A vegetarian menu is also created each week and each feeds two people ($110). Orders close at 9pm on Wednesdays and tends to be a sell-out, so hop to it.
Available Fri-Sat for pick-up or delivery to select suburbs. To order and view delivery areas, visit the website
Merricks General Wine Store
There's so much happening at the reinvigorated Merricks General Wine Store. Where to start? Tonight, you can swing past the "drive-through" for a bottle of something fab and a Rajasthani-style lamb curry or dhal with cumin and chickpea fritters. If you're organised, you might get your hands on a three-course box for dinner on Saturday or Sunday, but hurry – orders close at 4pm each Friday. And set a reminder that Wednesdays are pinot and pie day.
Visit the website to order and find out more
Lancemore Lindenderry Red Hill
This ultra-manicured hotel and dining room is bringing some of the luxe to you via three-course feasts to serve on your best china. The menu changes weekly but kicking things off is treacle-cured Tasmanian ocean trout, braised black Angus short rib and white chocolate mousse ($195 for two people). A vegetarian menu is also available.
Available Fri-Sat for local pick-up from Red Hill or delivery across Mornington Peninsula including Sorrento. Order online by 10am Saturday.