restaurant for birthday dinner

Does Melbourne Have a Restaurant For Birthday Dinner?

For a certain kind of person, the best part about birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations is the excuse to splurge at a top-tier restaurant

Even if that's not you, nearly everyone can appreciate the experience of settling around a table to enjoy the company of friends and family for several hours while all your whims are catered for.

These spots do it better than anyone else. In short: you bring the occasion and leave it to the staff to supply the special.

restaurant for birthday dinner (3)

Melbourne Restaurants for Special Occasions

From kangaroo curry to foraged fare, Australia's garden city is serving up a fine array of food fit for celebrations, all accompanied by swish cocktails and the most beautiful of settings. 

Whether a rooftop eatery or a lantern-filled basement is more your vibes, let us give you the lowdown on the best birthday restaurants in Melbourne.

Matteo's

Matteo’s opened on the quiet Fitzroy North end of Brunswick Street in 1994. The neighbourhood has changed a lot since then. As for Matteo’s? Well, it has, and it hasn’t. And that’s the best thing about it.

The restaurant was little more than a two-person operation; the eponymous Matteo Pignatelli handled front-of-house, and his wife Franca cooked. Since then, Pignatelli has attracted chefs from various backgrounds to cook numerous cuisines – Scott Pickett (Matilda, Estelle, Lupo) most notably.

Pignatelli has always trusted his chefs to cook what they like, within reason. This canny approach has helped the restaurant keep its contemporary edge despite its traditional leanings.

The current menu is a broad take on contemporary Australia. That might mean braised wallaby tail agnolotti or angel hair pasta with fresh spanner crab to start. On the larger end, toothfish topped with native-herb pesto, or roast duck breast with leatherwood honey, duck parfait and mustard pear. For dessert, a “Negroni” combines orange and gin sorbet with vermouth ice cream, Campari gel and Italian meringue.

While Prignatelli gives his chef free rein, the wine list is less up for debate. There’s not an orange wine insight, and probably never will be. The list hews classic, and the knowledgeable staff (many of whom have worked at the restaurant for a decade-plus) will steer you towards a bottle that will suit your tastes without being too wallet bruising.

Website:matteo's.com.au

Estelle

In 2019 Scott Pickett celebrated 30 years of working in kitchens. His formidable career started well before Noma came along, changing the global food conversation. 

That much is reflected in his restaurants Matilda and Saint Crispin, but perhaps Estelle most of all. Though the menu has up-to-date respect for produce and the seasons, it also has a classic undercurrent. Even the simpler dishes are backed by a surprising amount of technique.

Berkshire pork is sliced generously, doused in jus and presented with a single wilted mustard leaf and shaving of kohlrabi. Hand-rolled macaroni (straight, pencil-length tubes, not mini elbows) has a halo of yellow-ish, ephemeral foam, but the flavours are classic cacio e Pepe (cheese and pepper). Though it’s incredibly refined, this is food everyone can enjoy. “A touch of innovation without being scary or confronting” is how Pickett describes it, and we think he's right.

Estelle has three major areas: a wine bar-slash-waiting room with its menu; a greenery-filled, semi-undercover courtyard; and the main dining room, defined by a striking Christopher Boots interlocking-hoop light fixture. 

If you want to get serious, the dining room offers a five-course tasting menu ($90) with matched wines ($60), but this format feels a bit out of place in such a lively space. And if you want some choice, a la carte is an option. A Coravin vacuum-sealed system means that many of the list’s more expensive wines are available by the glass too.

French-born sommelier Fabien Moalic, who previously held the same position at the Press Club, has a soft spot for the big-gun wines of Australia and his homelands, such as Grosset riesling, Craiglee shiraz, Jean Dauvissat chablis and Domaine Rougeot burgundy. The usual new-gen minimal-intervention wines are conspicuously absent.

Website:theestelle.com.au

Matilda

The only artwork inside Scott Pickett’s fire- and smoke-focused restaurant, Matilda, comes in the form of a museum-like series of glass cabinets filled with botanical installations, from flowering artichoke plants to fermenting persimmons. The displays change with the seasons. 

The dining tables, by furniture-maker Hugh Makin, also fit into the visually pleasing category. 

Constructed out of two felled trees in the Otways, the wood has been carved into tactile pieces of sculpture that happen to be tabletops.

This is Pickett’s tribute to Australia, and it hits you from the moment you enter the restaurant in South Yarra. The low-slung ceiling is a procession of perforated red-brown arches – a colour that immediately brings to mind Uluru and the Red Centre. 

Native wood sits piled beside a long bar overlooking a busy open kitchen. Then there’s the menu, with finger-lime laced spanner crab, John Dory steeped in a native take on French grenobloise, and Tarte Tatin loaded with pink lady apples.

The owner-chef enlisted Projects of Imagination to bring his concept to fruition, and the design firm has created a fit-out unlike any other in Melbourne. Its sophistication and individuality are of an international standard – it would be an impressive space whether here or in Manhattan – but it’s wholly and instantly Australian.

Website:matilda159.com.au

Lûmé

lume

Like fortune, Lûmé has always favoured the bold. Since opening in 2015, Shaun Quade’s innovative restaurant has defied culinary expectations with its experimental 14-course tasting menu. In 2019, Quade shifted focus to an LA endeavour, moving into the role of Lûmé’s general manager, passing creative reins to then-25-year-old wunderkind John Rivera. In 2020, Rivera moved on and left chef Elijah Holland in charge.

The big change: Lûmé’s menu is now available in four or nine courses, priced at $175 to $245 per head, respectively. On the show is chic and accessible food that defies anyone's cultural influence.

The shiniest highlights include barbeque pork strip glazed in black banana, rolled up and pierced theatrically with a twig; calamari hiding cheekily under cucumber, chrysanthemum and charred coconut; Great Ocean duck, its leg, breast and heart topped with bright, seasonal berries; and a mango dessert with yoghurt, hops and crystallised saltbush, best described as a couture Weis bar.

Along with the remaining courses, palate cleaners and petit fours, these dishes trot out in a slow and considered fashion that (miraculously) feels uncontrived. The staff is impeccably knowledgeable and genuinely passionate. Wine, sake, beer, and cocktail pairings elevate each course and, at times, rival Lûmé’s kitchen in their ingenuity.

The restaurant resides in a Victorian townhouse that once served as a burlesque venue. Richly textured, peach-coloured walls are detailed with cave paintings of hunter-gathers. These walls give way to original brickwork and blonde-wood joinery. Plates and knives are decorated with the diacritic ˆ and ´ of the venue’s namesake. Detail reigns supreme.

Website:restaurantlume.com

Amaru

Amaru isn’t about labels. Beyond “modern Australian”, chef and debut restaurateur Clinton McIver resists putting a label on his Armadale restaurant. It is modern Australian, and it’s a blend of many, many different cuisines borrowed from all different regions.

It’s the first solo venture for the former Vue de Monde sous chef. With only 34 seats, McIver’s focus is on simple hospitality. The small space is sleek and intimate. The fit-out is thoughtful and minimal. Tables are custom designed by Ross Didier. 

The walls feature a faintly textural micro-cement rendering. The floor is stained and polished concrete. Shelving, bars and waiter stations are built from dark timber reclaimed from a Melbourne brick factory that burnt down years ago.

The focus is on the degustation-only menu. An example is crisp potatoes seasoned in seaweed, vinegar powder served with blue swimmer crab, compressed plum and frozen macadamia milk. 

There’s a little dumpling of roasted Flinders Island wallaby tail brushed in saltbush butter; an heirloom tomato stewed in rich marron and entry-berry broth; and a dry-aged game duck with barbeque radicchio, Davidson Plum gel and burnt apples.

Wine is uncomplicated, with a list of about 100 Australian, French and Italian vignerons.

Website:amaru.com.au

Atlas Dining

The worst thing about travel is the inevitable return to work. But mid-20s chef Charlie Carrington figured out a way to bring his holidays with him. Atlas, his restaurant in South Yarra, is like a culinary journal. It presents different cuisines Carrington encountered on an eight-month trip through 15 countries, cooking in some of the best kitchens in Antwerp, San Francisco and Mexico City.

Atlas’s cuisine changes every four months, and the menu changes weekly. It covered Vietnam; the set menu was inspired by dishes from Sapa in the north. It served Wagyu beef tartare, which was finished at the table with the rich, aromatic fat skimmed off the top of a pho broth; mackerel with caramel sauce, daikon and carrots, and a wood-roasted cauliflower accompanied by South Australian clams, lemongrass and ginger. A research trip to Israel set Carrington up for his crack at Israeli cuisine.

Carrington’s time at Sydney’s Firedoor has been a big influence on Atlas. He’s fitted the kitchen with a wood-fired oven and custom-designed grill.

Sydney architects Belinda Pajkovic and Tamara Frangelli designed the space using leather banquettes, white birch timber and a four-metre-wide brass compass on the ceiling. Longitudinal lines criss-cross the venue, and new coordinates are added every time Atlas shifts cuisine.

Website:atlasdining.com.au

Attica

It’s a sentiment repeated repeatedly: a restaurant must have “a sense of place” if it wants to make it on the world stage. Which is to say, it should reflect its surroundings, using local produce and themes while remaining informed by global ideas.

We’ll admit it: this sounds a tad pretentious. But on the plate, it can make for wonderful food in a world where so much of what we eat has been globalised, industrialised and homogenised. Secure a booking at the world-renowned Attica – a difficult task, at times – and you’ll taste this in practice.

In creating his artful, surprising menus, owner-chef Ben Shewry extensively uses native ingredients, local mythology and moments from his own life. One of the earliest and best examples of this was 2007’s Sea Tastes, featuring mussels and clams steamed in seawater and paired with clam custard, seaweed, prawn jelly, sea-urchin foam and many wild seaside plants. The inspiration: Shewry’s near-drowning at the age of 10, close to his childhood home on New Zealand’s west coast.

Website:attica.com.au

Cutler & Co.

Cutler & Co is the most formal restaurant in the Andrew McConnell stable, including Cumulus Inc., Marion and Supernormal. That’s not saying much, though. Fine-dining restaurants are more casual than they’ve ever been, and this one is no exception.

The a la carte menu is arranged much like that at Cumulus. It opens with small, refined snacks such as oysters, duck hearts with parsley and horseradish, and buckwheat pikelets with caviar.

Entrees and mains move onto proteins and fish paired with seasonal veggies and unusual flavours such as dandelion and sorrel. If you’re with a crowd, there are monster steaks or suckling pigs to share.

But if you want to emphasise the “fine” dining aspect of Cutler & Co (or stretch your meal out), degustation is the way to go. It runs to $150 per head for six courses, with optional matched wines (our preference) selected from the vast, progressive list.

Sunday lunches offer a shared set menu for $75 per head.

Website:cutlerandco.com.au

Ides

Ides is the first permanent restaurant by former Attica sous chef Peter Gunn. He ran IDES for three years as a monthly pop-up before putting down roots on Smith Street in March 2016.

It’s a small, 36-seater; dimly lit, with widely spaced, grey-leather-topped tables. The walls are adorned with paintings by mid-century Australian artists. A central “super pass”, or plating station for the chefs, is where the bar used to be.

Gunn wanted to make sure what he was offering at Ides was different to an experience at Attica, but there are echoes of it in the quiet, grey-carpeted room, the tiny kitchen, and the set-menu structure. But these are superficial similarities. If there is a comparison to be made, it’s closer in concept to Attica’s chef’s-table nights, where the menu is loose, and it’s more about testing boundaries than providing a faultless experience.

The menu at Ides is four courses or a six-course menu interspersed with small bites. The dishes change constantly and often at the last minute. Gunn likes to be spontaneous; he says it keeps the energy in the kitchen high. This means you never know what you’re going to get on any given night, but it keeps things interesting.

Gunn is known for punchy, technique-driven dishes that are full of flavour. Expect dishes such as burnt avocado with golden trout roe, marron tail with green cabbage and grilled nori.

Website:idesmelbourne.com.au

restaurant for birthday dinner

Minamishima

This intimate, 40-seat restaurant is the first solo outing for talented Japanese sushi master Koichi Minamishima. The restaurant serves pure, unadulterated nigiri (raw fish on seasoned rice). No hand rolls, no teriyaki, no side orders of miso. Think traditional. Think Jiro. Think delicious.

The offering is typically minimal. Option one is $185 per person for a 15-course sushi omakase (chef’s selection) seated at the long bar. Option two (also $185 per person) is perhaps better suited to parties of three or more and takes place in the elegantly understated, low-lit dining room. Included is a handful of shared dishes to start, followed by ten courses of (individual) sushi, then dessert. 

There are three private rooms for groups of up to eight, two of which have an integrated sushi bar and come with a private sushi chef. The offering changes daily, but you might find delicacies such as engawa (sea flounder fin), origami (Japanese cockle) or even uni (sea urchin roe) from Hokkaido.

Restaurant manager and sommelier Randolph Cheung is also legendary for his comprehensive wine knowledge. With sake as a focus, he’s worked with chef Minamishima to pair each course with some truly outstanding sake, beautifully showcasing the drink’s unparalleled versatility.

Website:minamishima.com.au

Kisumé

Kisumé isn’t much like Chin Chin, Baby, Kong and Hawker Hall, the other restaurants by the Lucas Group.

There’s no thumping music. No loud noise. No waiters dressed in casual clothes. No riotous colours on the walls. And you can reserve a table. So no queues.

There are three levels of varying intensity. Local firm Woods Marsh designed the lot, using a muted palette of black, grey and buffed metals to let provocative prints from photographers Polly Borland and Nobuyoshi Araki shine.

Up top, it’s private, kaiseki-style dining at Kuro Kisumé, a restaurant within a restaurant. Adjacent, awaiting room-slash-bar called “The Chablis Bar”, offering 80 steely chardonnays that pair well with raw seafood.

At street level, there’s a vast, New York-style sushi bar with an intimate view of chefs carefully slicing bluefin tuna, salmon, prawns and sea bream from Australia and New Zealand.

The windowless basement is the most bustling part of the restaurant. It holds a hot kitchen, a large semi-private nook, and tables packed more densely than anywhere else.

Cold food includes three oysters, very simple salmon sashimi with marinated fennel, and a neat puck of Wagyu tartare topped with quail egg yolk. Then there are various sushi rolls and sashimi, prepared by one of three on-site sushi masters (an actual qualification).

In the hot section, there are moreish prawns and foie gras “potstickers” (pan-fried dumplings); grilled hiramasa kingfish with a meaty, umami bite; and maple- and soy-glazed Berkshire pork ribs that’ll have your table trading greasy, satisfied smiles.

Apart from the Chablis, the impressive drinks list also includes proper cocktails and a range of actually-quite-decent house products. Wines are made at Yabby Lake in Victoria, sake produced near Yokohama, and beers brewed at Hawkers in Reservoir and sold under the Shiki label.

Website:kisume.com.au

FAQs About Melbourne Restaurants

The best birthday restaurants in Melbourne are:

The Brunswick Mess Hall, whimsical decor, private spaces and amazing food, guest rating: 5/5

La Di Da is a stylish restaurant with multiple function spaces, guest rating: 4.6/5

Locanda Restaurant & Bar, flexible event spaces and Australian-inspired cuisine, guest rating: 4.6/5

When looking for restaurants in Melbourne, consider Docklands with its easy pedestrian access to a wide variety of establishments. For a more ethnic approach to your celebration, check out Chinatown and the Italian options in Lygon Street. Also, look at the options on Fitzroy and Brunswick Streets, a well-known dining area for a great range of venues.

Unique Birthday Ideas in Melbourne - Fun & Memorable Ways to Celebrate

  • Have fun looking for clues on a mystery picnic.
  • Enjoy a bird's eye view of Phillip Island aboard a helicopter.
  • Find your zen at the Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs.
  • Experience a unique weekend getaway at a tiny house.
  • Eat your way around Yarra Valley.
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. 
  • Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) 
  • National Gallery of Victoria. 
  • Eureka Skydeck. 
  • Dandenong Ranges National Park. 
  • Old Melbourne Gaol. 
  • Shrine of Remembrance. 
  • Queen Victoria Market.

We have narrowed down 8 of the best Melbourne venues to host your 40th birthday party below:

  • GARDEN STATE HOTEL.
  • THE NATIONAL HOTEL. 
  • BOMBA ROOFTOP BAR. 
  • TOKOSAN. 
  • WATERSLIDE BAR. 
  • TERMINUS HOTEL. 
  • MON BIJOU.
  • THE GEORGE LOUNGE.

Conclusion

No matter what city you live in, finding a good place to celebrate a birthday can be a challenge. If you're looking for a special place to celebrate your next birthday, Melbourne may have a restaurant for you! 

From intimate dining rooms to rooftop bars with stunning views, we've put together a list of our top picks for restaurants in Melbourne that are perfect for birthday dinners. Read on for our recommendations - and happy celebrating!

Resources:

Best Special Occasion Restaurants in Melbourne

BIRTHDAY RESTAURANTS IN MELBOURNE

Melbourne Restaurants for Special Occasions

The Best Birthday Restaurants in Melbourne (VIC)

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