Tearing down the slopes really builds an appetite. Here are options for pre- and apres-ski that go beyond hot choccy.
Snowshoe to cheese fondue
Is there anything better than a three-course French meal on a cold winter's night? Don snowshoes and trudge past snow gums at sunset and arrive at Alpine Nature Experience's hidden eco-village. After a warming mug of gluhwein, enter the teepee, huddle around the fire and learn to make your own gooey cheese fondue with cheese from the French Alps, no less. Tours run Wed-Sun from June-September ($109 adult; $65 child (six to 12 years)).
Joyce Brockoff Hut is the newest on-snow lunch spot, set among the action on the Black Snake run. The unassuming historical stone hut has been transformed into a cafe by friends Jamie Walker and Mark Simmons. Warm up with a hearty soup or sample a local Brown Brothers wine on the deck.
Slalom Gully, Hotham Heights
A cocktail at speakeasy-style Elk bar. Photo: Jarryd Sinclair
Apartment 3 at Elk
The luxurious new Apartment 3 at Elk is an apartment which has been converted into an elegant New York-style bar. Enter through an emerald curtain, sink into the plush velvet lounges and enjoy views of the valley. Cocktails here are truly an experience. Elk restaurant, with its 360-degree fire place and rustic timber walls, is next door.
18 Slalom Street, Falls Creek, 03 5758 3211, elkatfalls.com.au
You will be on Cloud 9 when you eat at this refurbished restaurant at the top of Haley's chairlift. There is now a cafe and carvery, pizza and waffle stations. Gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan diets are catered for, too. Try the McIvor Farm pork and crackling cooked on the rotisserie, or a fresh salad. Fans can still grab a chicken and gravy roll or wood-fired pizza.
Top of Halley's Chairlift, Falls Creek, 03 5711 9109, cloud9fc.com.au
The Man Hotel
This season, The Man Hotel has a new owner. The egg cartons that once lined the downstairs walls are long gone and the whole place feels revived and fresh, with added greenery upstairs. The Man is also hosting a line-up of bands and DJs over the ski season, making it the best music venue on the hill. Food-wise, it's pizza and pub classics.
Slalom Street, Falls Creek, 03 5758 3362, themanfallscreek.com.au
Mount Buller has become an extension of the Melbourne food scene and all-day Snow Pony is leading the way. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails it is a favourite with locals and day-trippers alike. Enjoy a strong coffee with a breakfast of coconut charcoal waffles before hitting the slopes. The gin-spiked 'adult lemonade' pairs with almost every menu item; from the lunch salads to an evening dishes of calabaza (roasted pumpkin, pomegranate, sumac, pepitas and pickled plum). Signature dessert, the Pavarotti, is a vanilla ice-cream bomb glace with a hot chocolate centre and baked meringue exterior.
231 Summit Road, Mount Buller, 03 5777 6010, snowponybuller.com.au
This traditional Austrian-style restaurant is known for its weiner schnitzel and schnapps. Beloved owner Hans Grimus passed away last year and now his son, olympic athlete Anton, is running this alpine institution. The drinks still flow as fast as the conversation and the menu changes regularly, but always stays true to its European origins. Don't miss Kaptans' Salzburger Nockerl – a chocolate chip and hazelnut soufflé served with hot chocolate sauce and ice-cream.
Hotel Pension Grimus, 5 Breathtaker Road, Mt Buller, 03 5777 6396, pensiongrimus.com.au/dining
The Whitt has a fun, vibrant restaurant with live music and a jovial apres-ski scene. The roaring fire, leather lounges and antlers typical of alpine decor create a cosy space, and photos of former Victorian Ski Club members adorn the walls. Families are welcomed here; the menu has wholesome options such as quinoa salad with grilled chicken, however the deconstructed bur ger will create a bit of meal envy for those who chose the healthier route.
The ski-in, ski-out Coffee Garage located underneath the Whitt has great coffee (roasted on the mountain), toasties, doughnuts and marshmallows to toast over the open fire pit.
195 New Summit Road, Mount Buller, 03 5777 6024, skivictoria.com.au/restaurant
The brand new Villager Restaurant and Little Villager Cafe at Mount Buller have modern, simple menus designed to please a Melbourne crowd. From toasties and champagne downstairs to modern Australian fare upstairs, these two spots focus on regional Victorian produce.
2 The Avenue, Mt Buller, thevillagermb.com.au
Long standing bakery (and post office) Harrietville Bakery is a regular stop for those in the know on their way to the snow. Don't pass through town without picking up a warm quiche or flaky croissant.
219 Great Alpine Road, Harrietville, 03 5759 2553
The General at Hotham is known for its pizza. This mountain favourite is family friendly, serving pub fare in a comfortable environment.
Lot 1, Great Alpine Road, Mt Hotham, 03 5759 3523, thegeneral.com.au