It’s time once again to revel in the weirdness and uniqueness of Melbourne. Running from September 12th to the 29th, the annual Melbourne Fringe Festival is bigger and better in 2019. There are over 400 exciting and strange acts and shows which range from stand-up comedy to drag shows. There’s even a show in which audience members are attached to a lie-detector and answer questions. Anything goes at the Fringe Festival!
Trades Hall – Carlton
Right on the food-filled Lygon Street, the Fringe’s main hub is close to many amazing dining options. Over a quarter of the shows are being held here!
49 Rathdowne St, Carlton
Spread out over two floors, Epocha is just a short stroll around the corner from Trade’s Hall. Epocha features a fine dining menu with a European influence using premium Australian produce. The restaurant also boasts an amazing view of the Carlton Gardens and Royal Exhibition Building, the perfect backdrop for a delicious dinner.
Diners get a choice of two or three courses for a set price and then are able to choose what they’d like to order, whether it be an entrée and main, main and dessert or all three. Whatever the choice, all the dishes are nourishing, with wines chosen that match each dish perfectly. The experienced team at Epocha guide all their guests to a memorable and warm experience.
Da Guido La Pasta
128-130 Lygon St, Carlton
This authentic Italian restaurant is the perfect precursor to any Trade’s Hall show, and it’s only a two minute walk down Lygon Street!
Da Guido La Pasta specialises in homemade, fresh pasta dishes, all made in-house each day using the freshest ingredients. To ensure that the dishes are as authentic to the Venetian style of cooking as possible, they are all prepared by Italian chefs that have trained in their restaurant in Italy. Other delicious options such as fresh market seafood and Italian beef stew are guest favourites. Just make sure you have room for dessert, because the dessert and cheese menu is as faithful to Italy, and as mouth-watering, as the rest of the dishes.
Arts Centre/Wonderland Spiegeltent – Southbank/Federation Square
Southbank is home to many excellent bars and restaurants, all within walking distance to the Arts Centre and the Wonderland Spiegeltent. Check out these restaurants for some pre-show dinner and drinks.
Shop 3A, Ground Floor, Southgate Restaurant & Shopping Precinct, Southbank
Found in the lively Southgate dining precinct in Southbank, BearBrass combines relaxed dining with great Australian cuisine. The open layout of the restaurant and generous table sizes make it the perfect place for group dining. The restaurant also features a generous outdoor dining area with lovely views of the Yarra River and city skyline.
They offer a diverse menu, including pizzas, small bites and a great pre-theatre dinner and drink option. For $35 you get a two course meal and a beer or glass of wine, but bookings are essential! If you’re seeing a show or act at the Arts Centre with a group of friends, this is your perfect dinner spot.
100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
This sleek restaurant, nestled under the Art Centre Spire, is a central place for a pre or post-show meal. The bright and modern interior is warm and inviting, which mirrors the comforting menu. Large dishes, perfect for sharing, are available, as well as smaller dishes, which are great for a snack. A generous wine list, showcasing some of the best Australian vineyards, is on offer, in addition to small-batch whiskeys and Gin from New Zealand and Australia.
The restaurant itself is full of Arts Centre history, with the parquetry floorboards being made out of re-purposed timber from the original Hamer Hall. Indulge in a cocktail in the luxurious space which runs along the curve of the ground floor of the Theatres Building and breathe in the culture.
Gasworks Art Park – Albert Park
This precinct is home to a variety of Fringe shows, including circus, cabaret, kids’ shows and large performance spaces. Discover the largest south-side precinct and its surrounding restaurants.
59 Cardigan Pl, Albert Park
A favourite fine-dining restaurant in the Albert Park area, perfect for Fringe-goers who like it a little bit fancy. Headed by experienced hospitality wife and husband team Dominique Bolder and John Singer and, as a result. Lord Cardigan has a unique ability to make you feel right at home.
The menu is primarily Australian with Asian and European touches. Every dish is created with love and presented with style, with memorable flavour combinations that stick in your mind. If you are going to an earlier show and don’t have time for dinner, Lord Cardigan offers a delicious variety of desserts, including a passionfruit soufflé and a warm chocolate pudding. Described as noble, distinctive and artful, Lord Cardigan is a great place to dine before any fun Fringe activities.
19 Victoria Avenue, Albert Park
This Albert Park institution serves up the best North African and Middle Eastern fare, and has been for over 18 years. Kamel is a short 12 minute walk (or 4 minute drive) from the Gasworks Art Park precinct which, as a result, makes it a great dinner stop before your Fringe Fest performance.
The interior is a Middle Eastern oasis with authentic and opulent trimmings. Ornate engravings which depict camels cover the walls and Morrocan-esque jugs and vessels populate the shelves. The intimate courtyard features low tables and plenty of greenery, which certainly enhances the vibe of a Middle Eastern market. Kamel offers a large selection of small and large mezze plates for sharing (or eating by yourself). There’s also the option of a set banquet if you can’t decide what delicious food to eat!
The Butterfly Club – CBD
This central location is home to a massive program of Fringe events and shows. If you’re looking for comedy, theatre and music, this is the venue for you.
The Mill House
277-279 Flinders Ln, Melbourne
Located in a heritage listed building and named after its original use, a flour mill in the 1850’s, The Mill House is one of the CBD’s top bars. Daily specials on drinks, food and a 4-7pm happy hour Mon-Sat makes it a great place to nab some cheap eats before your show at The Butterfly Club. Swing by before your show on Tuesdays for the Mill’s Gin Club Tuesday, which features premium gins for $10!
The menu features bar favourites which are perfect for sharing or larger dishes which are more substantial. Standouts include the Peruvian fried chicken, the Portobello burger and their apple & almond salad.
The Mill House is open ‘til 3am Thurs-Sat and is only a 6 minute walk away from the Fringe goodness. After that head back over for some post-show drinks!
13 Bligh Place, CBD
This modern Middle Eastern eatery is inspired by Arabian night markets and the delicious street food found there. Like most Middle Eastern cuisine, Souk’s food is intended to be shared and features flavours reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire. Try out the pan fried Brussel sprouts drizzled with pomegranate molasses. Even of you don’t like sprouts, this dish will blow your mind!
Pink and blue neon lights light up the venue, which creates an electric contrast against the otherwise moody atmosphere. Crystal glassware accents each table, which dissipates the neon glow in a magical way. The ambiance is one of warmth yet visitation, as if you have entered the house of a welcoming Middle Eastern family in the middle of Doha. Souk is the perfect place to indulge in an aromatic pre-show feast!
Melbourne is Australia’s food and culture capital, so discover the best of both worlds during the 2019 Fringe Festival. For more information about the Fringe Fest, including show guides/times, ticketing and donations, check out the website here.
By Sarah Panther