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This Week in Food: It’s a big year for a Melbourne institution


COMING OF AGE – It’s a big year for a Melbourne institution. This year, St Kilda stalwart Donovans turns 21, and owners Gail and Kevin Donovan are marking it with four months of celebrations – from one-off dinners and weekly prizes, to behind the scenes opportunities and weekday lunch specials. The highlight sounds like their Beauty and the Beast dinner on July 19 – promising surprises, opulence, and “beastly feasting”. Check the website – or call the restaurant – 9534 8221.

MEET YOU AT THE BAR – Don’t forget that you don’t have to book in for a long lunch or fancy dinner at many of Melbourne’s top restaurants, many of them have moody bars at which you can sample their fare with far less formality. During the week I dined at Cutler and Co’s front bar. It’s such a great space – stylish, with the added bonus that you can see all the kitchen action while you indulge. On the menu – seafood platter, super soft donuts with salmon roe and sour cream, suckling pig tacos or a seriously good burger. And do not miss their seriously good cocktail menu – the Watermelon Gibson a stand out martini. Head bartender is serving out classy drinks with a environmental bent, “closed loop” bartending means he’s integrating produce from the kitchen to  minimise waste (oh, and they taste bloody good!).

Roast partridge, warm farro & Tuscan kale

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FRENCH SLOPES – Fans of Melbourne’s favourite French gastro-pub and the ski season will be happy to hear the two are coming together as L’Hotel Gitan takes over Dinner Plain’s Alphutte restaurant with Gitan Alps from 8 – 21 August. Expect classic French fare in a petite chalet, so Croque Monsieurs, Coq au Vin, and cheese of the moment – melted raclette with steaming hot potatoes, charcuterie and cornichons. @GitanAlps or LOT 563 Big Muster Dr, Dinner Plain, VIC 3898

COOKING WITH KIDS – The school holidays are fast approaching, so now’s the time to plan some activities for the kids that might just be enjoyable for you too, OR that give you a couple of hours off. Well, how about some food-related fun at Prahran Market? Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food are running cooking workshops on the 7th and 14th July for kids aged 4-12 with a carer, aiming to teach how to make fresh and flavourful foods with easy recipes they can use at home.  Or, if you want to drop Marmaduke off, how about Sweetpea Kids Can Cook classes on the 10th July for kids 5+ – they’ll taste their wares on site and take some home for you.