Alfresco dining takes off in Melbourne

Friends enjoying alfresco dining

Blanche Clark

Posted December 30, 2021

Melbourne’s weather may be famously temperamental but that hasn’t stopped Victorians flocking to pathway diners, rooftop bars and beer gardens in search of fresh food experiences this summer. 
Like many cities around the world, alfresco dining is helping drive Melbourne’s hospitality revival, and the enthusiastic response from locals and interstate visitors has prompted the City of Melbourne to continue its extended outdoor dining program until 31 March 2022. This means 16 laneways will remain dining hubs, and 200 parklets (footpath extensions) will be kept so that CBD businesses can offer more seating and safe physical distancing. 

Open air fun 

Among a number of new restaurants to open in Melbourne's CBD in 2021, Sojourn – the eye-catching blue restaurant and rooftop bar in New Chancery Lane – mixes a unique open-air ambience with a bold and playful menu that champions Victoria’s top winemakers, brewers, distillers, farmers and producers. 
This pairing has struck a chord with Victorian diners, who have been quick to embrace the eclectic menu that includes Queen of the South cocktail (a summery splash of Starward whisky and orange bitters) and Tasmanian pacific oysters with Campari finger lime dressing. 
City Club Executive Chef Jason Camillo says the new summer menu includes seasonal flavours that enhance the use of local produce. 
“We’ve never had a summer at Sojourn, so the rooftop comes into play, and we have antipasto and small plates like Four Pillars gin-cured salmon,” he says. 
“In the restaurant downstairs, we’ve introduced summer produce such as nectarines with roast pork and fresh Yarra Valley cherries with the new duck dish. 
“For those people who haven’t experienced Sojourn, I think it’s perfect for summer.” 

Alfresco dining

Sojourn mixes a unique open-air ambience with a bold and playful menu that champions Victoria’s top producers. Photo: Shevin Dissanayake


Summer sports enjoyment 

Alfresco dining is also popular beyond the confines of Melbourne’s CBD. Equally tempting for fresh-air lovers, golfers and Victorian sports fans alike is Riddell’s Green at Healesville Country Club and Resort.   
Open since November 2021, Riddell’s Green delivers a food and drink experience focused on local produce, while being immersed in nature. Diners can watch a mob of kangaroos grazing beneath the eucalypts on the far side of the golf course, and cheer on the best in local and international sport across two big screens. 
The all-weather construction is also designed for comfort. Rain, hail or whatever else the Yarra Valley throws at it, Riddell’s Green has a retractable louver system, skylights, PVC blinds and a fireplace. 
“The space itself is stunning,” Healesville Country Club & Resort Manager Josh O’Brien says. “We have the terrazzo tables and high timber-top tables. The PVC blinds enclose the space when it’s chilly, or you can open them up in warmer weather and it’s airy and breezy. 
“Native elements and native plants are incorporated into the design and, along with the views of the undulating golf course, you can watch the sun set behind the hill.” 
Josh says the South American-style menu gives Riddell’s Green a point of difference to other dining experiences in the Yarra Valley. “Our new head chef, Himanshu Sharda, is a fantastic asset to us,” he says. 
“It’s very comfortable and you can sit at the bar with a glass of wine and some chicken wings or tacos and enjoy the view or sport on TV. I think it will be the place to be this summer.” 


A family enjoys alfresco dining

Riddell's Green, the alfresco sports bar at Healesville Country Club & Resort, is a great place for friends and family. Photo: Matt Harvey


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