Scorcher’s Long Lunch Specials
Click PLAY below to hear Scorch’s review on 3AW Breakfast
Let’s face it, the long lunch is on its last legs.
Gone are the days, most notably in the media industry, where boozy lunches would stretch out to five hours and the point of ridiculousness.
Sometimes more than five hours if you really had a tailwind behind you.
No longer is it deemed acceptable to have a skinful over an elongated lunch meeting and stagger back into work just as it’s time to knock off (unless the boss is with you, perhaps).
What constitutes lunch in these staid days of open-plan offices and standing meetings is sushi at your desk or a poke bowl in a nearby park. And your lunch hour is strictly that: an hour. Anything longer would arouse feelings of guilt or indulgence.
But in our fair city there are some cracking midweek lunch specials to be found that can be squeezed into a 60-minute timeframe, and even some weekend ones when time is more likely to be on your side.
Hungry office workers looking for something a little more exciting than that limp lettuce sandwich can experience some of Melbourne’s high-end restaurants at a fraction of the price.
Shannon Bennett’s Iki Jime, a luxe, moody den on Little Collins St that champions seafood with contemporary flair, feels like it’s flown under the radar.
If you haven’t tried it, or haven’t heard of it, lunch could be the perfect time to acquaint yourself.
The $35 lunch special (choice of five dishes, available Tuesday to Saturday) is a nice way to wile away an afternoon among the tables of suits and not pay full whack for the experience.
With only my phone for company, I put away my device for a moment so I could tear through a seductive, mild green curry of pink ling, king prawns, rice, dense flatbreads and raita.
Other options include a seafood stew with tomatoes, fermented mushrooms, fennel and flatbread and a plate of fish, chips and salad that’s been done up for the opera. As far as specials go, this definitely isn’t the best value in town but rather a cut-priced way to treat yourself to a fancy seafood lunch.
Sticking with inner-city restaurants, Lello in Flinders Lane is a laid-back and stylish joint where the handmade pasta is so good you’ll be high fiving anyone in your vicinity.
Lello’s two-course Italian lunch for $35 is scorching value which gets punters through the doors on week days.
Golden calamari fritti with a simple salad was a nice way to start, but my nourishing bowl of pasta was certainly the main event.
Orecchiette with generous amounts of veal lolling about in a rich porcini mushroom sauce was just the thing I need to get through a taxing hump day. Lovely stuff.
Over at Ryne, chef Donovan Cooke is serving up some mighty fine grub to the locals of Fitzroy North and wannabe blow-ins.
Ryne, an Anglo-Saxon word meaning ‘a course that’s continuously moving’, sees Cooke focus his considerable energies and genius to cooking familiar, real, elegant food.
Kind of like a meal your grandma might make if she was a Michelin-starred chef.
Come Sunday, Ryne’s four-course $68 lunch special is blistering value for a proper posh nosh.
For a touch under $70, punters get a choice of two dishes for each of the four courses; a cold entrée of yellow fin tuna tartare was a standout, with the fish given an enlivening kick in the guts in the form of jalapeno dressing and pickled ginger.
With temperatures dropping, slow-roasted spiced duck breast with duck fat cabbage put a warming glow in the belly. As did the juicy slab of pork belly with sweat and sour pineapple, pork floss, pepper jam and spring onion.
I took my mother here one Sunday and her head fell off. If you want to score some brownie points with a loved one, I recommend you do the same.
So lunching is not what it used to be, which I’m sure has led to improvements in workplace productivity and the health of vital organs.
But when it comes to lunch remember this: it’s not the length that counts; it’s what you do with it.
Iki Jime (430 Little Collins St, Melbourne): A choice of four incredible dishes for $35. A selection of raw fish with condiments; green curry, pink ling, prawns and flatbread; seafood stew; and fish, chips and salad (it’s not as plain as it sounds). Tuesday to Saturday.
Lello (150 Flinders Ln, Melbourne): Two-course lunch for $35. Menu changes but the lunch includes an antipasti (Caprese salad or calamari fritti) and a main (orecchiette with veal or grilled swordfish with pumpkin puree and broccolini). Weekdays.
Ryne (203 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North): Four-course Sunday lunch for $68. Cold entrée (yellow fin tuna tartare or celeriac veloute with confit duck), hot entrée (pan fried scallops or crispy skin pork belly), main (smoked confit ora king salon with cauliflower curry or braised wgyu beef cheek) and dessert (vanilla cheesecake with blood orange or cheese selection). Menu subject to change. Sundays, obviously.