Home comforts: the new way to dine out
The past few months have completely transformed the food industry, with our cafes, restaurants and food producers being impacted by months of forced closures and continued restrictions. While many states and territories have been able to start getting back to a new normal, the food industries in Sydney and Melbourne are still walking on a tightrope – trying to find the best way to keep their doors open and their staff employed while managing on lower revenues and reduced customer numbers.
Luckily, we Aussies love our food and have always been proud to support local, and so we’ve been quick to embrace many of the new offerings introduced by some of our top restaurants and food producers. While going out might not be an option – or you simply prefer to stay in, just in case – you can still enjoy restaurant-quality food, with new at-home menus designed to bring a little joy and comfort during this long, dark COVID winter.
There are also some delicious virtual experiences cooked up especially for foodies – you can learn how to recreate your favourite chef’s dishes or learn wine and coffee tasting tips from experts, or you can create your own meals and treats with top-quality produce from our finest food-producing regions. Here’s a tasting plate of just some of what’s on offer.
Attica at Home
Ben Shewry and his team at Melbourne’s Attica created Attica at Home to give people “something to look forward to”. The offering includes Attica Classics, Ben Shewry’s Family Meal and the Attica Modern menus, as well as a 10-course tasting menu, which features some Attica classics and a couple of brand-new dishes, along with matching drinks.
“We’d been thinking a lot about how we could add a menu to Attica at Home that really targets those wanting to celebrate special occasions,” Shewry says of the tasting menu offering. “We’re all still celebrating anniversaries, birthdays, graduations and new additions to the family, and we should still be able to celebrate those with a special meal. We feel the Attica at Home Tasting Menu does that.
“We all might be stuck in our homes and not able to go to restaurants right now, but we’re hoping this menu helps people still have a restaurant experience at home.”
The menu includes high-end delights such as hand-picked crab with macadamia and sourdough, aromatic Ripponlea broth, burru (kangaroo) with truganini (grey saltbush) and Daintree chocolate with Quandongs (wild peach). All meals have been designed so there’s no cooking at home required, and only minimal assembly.
Chiswick at-home menu
Chiswick launched its own at-home menu back in May, delivering some much-loved favourites plus a few fresh takes on classic dishes to home dining rooms across Sydney.
Designed to bring the best of Chiswick direct to you, the menu allows diners to choose their own Chiswick adventure depending on the occasion; an easy and hearty midweek dinner, or making a night of it with a gastronomically delightful three-course menu.
“We wanted to come as close as we could to recreating that wonderful Chiswick experience,” says the restaurant’s owner, chef Matt Moran. “This is a menu that captures the feeling of a meal at Chiswick, ready to pick up, take home and feed your family.”
Chiswick has ensured that at-home diners get the full restaurant experience, with a well-stocked drinks menu of ready-to-drink cocktails and wines chosen by Chiswick sommelier Eleonore Wulf, who’s dusted off the best of the Chiswick wine vault as well as creating a grab-and-go cocktail selection to pair perfectly with your meal.
Cook at home with Matt Moran & Harris Farm
Moran launched Cooking at Home with Matt Moran in May, with the aim of helping Sydneysiders to take their home cooking to the next level using his favourite recipes, live cooking classes and seasonal ingredients delivered to your door by Harris Farm.
Every Friday at 6pm, Moran takes viewers through an interactive step-by-step cooking class, creating a curated meal inspired by recipes from his best-selling cookbooks. Ingredient boxes will be delivered direct from Harris Farm Markets to home kitchens prior to the class so aspiring chefs can get ready for a Friday night date with Moran.
“I’ve found myself at home a lot more in the past few months, cooking with my family,” Moran says. “It reminded me that there’s nothing like coming together over a meal with our family and friends, and it made me want to encourage all Australians to find joy in cooking.”
Each box contains fresh local Australian produce to recreate two hearty menus to serve four people that include one main and two sides. Both menus can be cooked on Friday night alongside Moran for a proper feast for eight guests, or customers can choose to cook one option and leave another dish for a meal over the weekend.
The menu will change each week, and while everything is created from scratch, the recipes are simple enough for cooks of all levels to be able to master.
Home deliveries and hampers for happy hour
With restrictions still firmly in place, Melbourne’s Made in the Shade group has acted swiftly to offer locals home delivery services and a range of cocktail hampers to help ease people into the transition of dining at home.
Bar Margaux, the group’s newest venue, is for the first time offering a range of French family-style meals, prepared fresh and sealed for Melbournians to stock up on and then cook at their convenience at home. The Margaux team will deliver straight to your door across metropolitan Melbourne. The “A la Maison” menu includes classic Margaux dishes such as soupe à l’oignon and beef bourguignon. Très magnifique!
The Everleigh Bottling Co, already a staple of home entertaining, has introduced a range of hampers to liven up “Happy Hour at Home”, featuring signature single-serve bottled classic cocktails including Martini, Negroni, Manhattan and Old Fashioned, along with glassware, a copy of A Spot At The Bar and venue gift vouchers. Drinks come with all the trimmings, including garnish and crystal-clear block ice.
Venue gift vouchers, hampers and food deliveries will all be available via madeintheshadegroup.com.au and promoted across each venue’s social media.
Bentley Group at Home
In April, one of Australia’s most renowned restaurant groups, the Bentley Group, launched an at-home dining service across their four hatted restaurants: Bentley Restaurant + Bar, Monopole, Yellow and Cirrus. It’s the first time the group has served Sydneysiders at home.
Co-owner and chef Brent Savage spent weeks designing four distinct menus, including one entirely vegan, which bring the quality of the restaurants into Sydneysiders’ homes, while co-owner and sommelier Nick Hildebrandt provides suggested wine or cocktail pairings.
“Bentley Group at Home has been born out of the necessity of not only trying to keep our business going but keeping our team busy, motivated and engaged while the restaurants can’t operate as normal,” says Savage.
“We have specifically designed these menus and dishes to travel well – that was our major challenge. Some of the dishes are new but really sum up the best of the restaurant, like the Cirrus king dory and mushroom, and some are much-loved like the Bentley Chocolate Bar.
“We have so many loyal diners who are missing the restaurant experience, and we’re happy that we can stay part of their lives during this difficult time.”
High Country at Home
High Country at Home experiences are adding a soupçon of stardust and a modicum of magic to a long winter in iso. The online marketplace showcases products from around Victoria’s High Country so those in lockdown can still enjoy wine, beer, gin, honey, luxe granola, sauces, olives and locally-roasted coffee from nearly 100 businesses. The site also offers a range of fun, tasty, informative and interactive bookable experiences.
You can sample the region’s famous food, wine, craft beer, cycling and nature-based offerings with High Country chefs, winemakers, brewers and adventurers who are leading classes that share their insights, expert knowledge, tips and tricks.
Guided Zoom masterclasses let you cook, taste, judge, savour and indulge in the flavours of the region, which you can enjoy at home with your family or partner or share online with friends. It’s as easy as booking a date, checking the mailbox for your special High Country at Home box of all the goodies you’ll need for the class, and then Zooming in.
You can check out the full list of current classes at victoriashighcountry.com.au
Send some love and sunshine to your mates down south
For those in sunny Queensland who want to share some love with their friends who are still shivering through winter in Victoria and NSW, Scenic Rim Farm Box has launched the Thinking of You box, full of Queensland goodness and postable anywhere in Australia.
The Thinking of You box particularly has our Melbourne mates in mind, with lots of nourishing skincare from Summer Land Camels, world’s best macadamias from Greenlee Farm & Cottages, some sweet treats and cookies from Lovett at Kalbar and for something unique, preserved finger limes from Canungra Creek Fingerlimes.
Launched four months ago by the Eat Local Week team, the Scenic Rim Farm Box delivers fresh produce, products and locally-produced wine and beer direct from the farms, vineyards and vats of the Scenic Rim to people’s front doorsteps all over South East Queensland. The box is now a permanent offer, and is fully customisable.
You can order the Thinking of You box online at scenicrimfarmbox.com.au