Aussie GTG - Melbourne, 22nd May 2010

Jan 17th, 2010, 10:02 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Hi Bokhara - Tutto Bene is also one of our favourite restaurants- amazing rissotto is their "signature", but large group bookings may not be... the largest group that would probably fit in the confines of the outdoor area (inside too small?) would probably be about 16-18. A good idea to check?

I would not recommend Walters. It used to be a must do for any Melbournian who loved the vibe of a really great bar and grill, but having been there twice recently I was very disappointed.

The emphasis is now very much on the bar,food seems to have gone downhill,and it's way too small to cope with group bookings, and the service staff just don't seem up to it anymore.

We eat out regularly in our wonderful foodie city and I'd second Mo Vida (stunning, but pricey), or Bar Lourinha.

I do still hope to make it, but have health and home issues (hinted at here) that do make it difficult for me to plan so far ahead.

It sounds like it will be a great night!
Libretto is offline  
Jan 18th, 2010, 05:20 PM
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I'm hoping that Peter S can make it.

I loved his writings on Venice!
margo_oz is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 03:19 AM
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Don't know what happens with other Fodors GTGs, JohnFitz, but just to get the discussion started, the last few gatherings of this nature that I've attended/been involved in, have been along these lines:

Pre-meal drinks: Everyone does their own thing. This works well in a bar situation where people are arriving at different times and preferences are unknown.

Lunch/Dinner: Fixed price, sometimes with 5 or 6 options for 3 courses. Sometimes it has been $x for 2 courses and $xx for 3.

Wines at lunch dinner: We've tried several options, depending on the group/venue and two that seem to work quite well are: (1) to include the cost of 2 glasses of wine (or beer/soft drink) in the meal cost. This puts a bottle of red and one of white on each table of 8 and gets everyone chatting etc., while the entrees are served.

Wine lists are left on the tables after orders for meals are taken. Depending on how many would like more different wine, another bottle/s is ordered for the table, or a if only a few, they split that cost amongst themselves & add it to their share.

(2) If there are a significant number of non drinkers, those who would like some wine with their meal buy a bottle/s and share the costs.

A la carte can work if everyone has roughly the same $ value and the total is simply divided by the number of diners, but it can be tricky, as you say.

On balance, I think if we could find somewhere to offer us a reasonable variety for a fixed price, it would probably be easier.

What does everyone else think? Stormbird?
Bokhara2 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 02:06 PM
Join Date: May 2007
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I'm happy to go with whatever works for most. I will want to have a drink or two before and with my meal (emphasise want, not need), and I am content to pay as I go if that makes things easier. It does seem that a fixed price option would be preferable, but a la carte would be fine. I have no objection to rounding or sharing if that works best.
kiwi_rob is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 08:12 PM
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I'm all for the structured approach for large groups. It avoids bill wrangling at the end.
Susan7 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 09:05 PM
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I'm a big fan of simplicity, so fixed price works for me, as long as there's a vegetarian or vegetarianesque option. I think I made up a new word...
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 09:47 PM
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Sorry, I haven't been able to respond - have been flat out like a lizard drinkin'.

I agree that a fixed price option is probably best and Mel we will definitely make sure there is a vegetarianesque option there.

Give me a couple of days to analyse a couple of the posts with restaurant references - thanks bokhara and libretto and I'll get back to you,

Realistically though, John I am probably going to have to rely on you somewhat as you are in the thick of it down there.

I think we want a fixed price option of at least two courses. Wine/beer/soft drink package included.

This is a special occasion and I'm happy to let my hair down a little bit regarding cost of the dinner etc but not sure - what is reasonably priced to one person isn't necessarily the same for another???? Help!
stormbird is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 01:52 AM
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A fixed price option sound a really good idea. People know how much they are up for and no wrangling afterwards. I have been to a Mo Vida a couple of times and love it but am not sure if they can offer a fixed price menu. Perhaps they would if they know well in advance. Also, the original Mo Vida would not take a booking as large as ours. The way their restaurant is designed, the max is 6 people.

There is now another Mo Vida (they are up to four different types now) which I gather caters for large groups. The food is no doubt still very good, but I rather wonder about the atmosphere somewhat. It is on the first floor of a large city office building - certainly not an address that springs to mind. Mo Vida is all about people sharing platters, so I suppose we could organise a whole lot of dishes to share and just split the costs but it is probably still rather messy as compared to a proper fixed price menu. I hope to be in town one day next week so will have a look if I can as several posts have mentioned Mo Vida.
shandy is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 12:15 PM
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Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions .They are just what I , and I imagine Stormbird , need in order to set some parameters .

I checked MoVida and Movida Next Door .No bookings taken at the latter . Last I ate at Movida it was about $100 pp for Tapas and Sangria .

I know I could find us a terrific bar for drinks in one of our lanes that is close to ( short walk ) dinner venue.

Are these costs - a fixed price limited choice 3 course menu at $60 - $80 pp plus wine with good vegetarian options , catering for any gluten free needs etc - OK ?

If so I will look in earnest ,including taking suggestions from you all .

Just to give you all an idea of my recent experience of organising dinners that had lovely, careful, food of interest ,I have organised two small work related group dinners ( 8 -12 persons )in the last year in Melbourne and where we wanted a private room or semi private space .

The last was at Embrasse in Rathdowne Street Carlton ( Epicure young chef of Year , Best dish of the year etc )which was a 5 course degustation at $75 pp plus drinks .For more than 8 persons they had a room which required a minimum spend and so do others such as Bar Lourinha ( $1500 and a non refundable deposit to be paid up front )

The other was at Libertine in Victoria Street North Melbourne and was a limited choice 3 course at $60 approx pp plus drinks in an upstairs room ( noone has disability access problems ?? ) .A deposit was paid and deducted from end bill but no minimum room spend .That room can seat up to 30. Lovely French food .

Food and service was excellent at both and well reviewed by the pundits .

So that gives us some idea of costs at mid range restaurants.

I am guessing there will be 10 - 15 of us going on current expressions of interest / acceptances .

So , going on what you have all posted I imagine we would safely look at a cost of up to $100 per person for dinner if modest wines etc are drunk plus whatever you care to pay for pre dinner drinks .

If so I will do some more research as I am not au fait with latest Southbank options .

Please keep ideas coming .

Regards to all ,

JohnFitz is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 02:14 PM
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Hi John,

I think $100 is very realistic. John, I'm sorry to put this on you but I am thinking that the bar/restaurant decision will be yours. Do you mind? If not, I have complete faith that the location you select will be perfect.

I don't feel like I can comment on any of the restaurants as I don't know them. Sometimes when a number of people are involved you just have to make an executive decision and I'm sure the others would be happy for you to do so. Again, if you don't mind.

This has been a fantastic response everyone - I'm so very pleased that this is happening and I'm sure the evening is going to be an outstanding success.

Your thoughts on the above John?
stormbird is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 03:11 PM
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Virgin Blue have just added some cheap seats Brisbane -Melbourne - you might want to check your departure point and hopefully there'll be a bargain there. I've just booked mine - glad I waited - saved about $110 all up Yay!!!
stormbird is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 03:16 PM
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Thanks John,
I'd be more than happy with $100 + drinks, etc and with your recommendation for the venue.

Are we locked into Southbank? I think it was suggested initially because it's well known, easily accessible and has a pleasant outlook, particularly on a Summer's evening. Mid May though, I would think it will be dark well before we arrive for dinner, and thoughts of strolling across from the CBD likely to be somewhat less appealing than a warm cab.

Google indicates Libertine & Embrasse & Southbank are probably all about 10 mins from Bourke Street Mall, so if we went with either of them, it would still be convenient for anyone staying in the CBD. Just a thought.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 06:52 PM
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I'm also happy with $100 and to go with whatever is decided restaurant wise.

Thanks for all the research John.
Susan7 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 04:47 AM
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Thankyou all for your comments and vote of confidence .

Now that I know what we all seem to want I am happy to help out with researching /selecting a venue . After that I would prefer to hand back the reins to you Stormbird as this is really your terrific initiative . I also think it is best to have only one person for everyone to liaise with and thus avoid confusion . I am also going to pretty busy from March with work and personal commitments .

So once I select a venue and find out exactly what they require I will pass those details to you Stormbird to let you fine tune it all . Is that OK ?

I was at dinner with friends tonight and asked them for suggestions without telling them what had already been mooted by us . The two places immediately mentioned were Movida and Bar Lourinha !!

They told me that Movida has a new venue in Little Bourke Street between Queen and William Streets opposite the rear of the Supreme Court but I think it is a little removed and has little pedestrian traffic at night .Not unsafe but it is out of the way from where most bars , restaurants , theatres and like are in the central city . Movida is also hard to get a booking , let alone for a large table ,at least at the original venue .

So I will investigate Bar Lourinha for us first and let you know the outcome , hopefully next week after the long weekend . I am out of town from tomorrow morning until Tuesday night .Happy Australia Day to all .

Cheers ,

JohnFitz is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 11:00 PM
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I looked at Lourinha's web site and noticed that it does not take bookings .Seems a risk to me to have us all arrive for a drink and possibly not get a table/s for dinner .

Exploring other options .
JohnFitz is offline  
Jan 24th, 2010, 12:34 PM
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Hi John,

Yes, I will be happy to take the reins back once we have a venue. Just give me the name and I will be happy to co-ordinate the details etc.

I appreciate how busy you are and am very thankful for the assistance John. Many thanks.
stormbird is offline  
Jan 24th, 2010, 01:37 PM
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Hi all, have been reading this thread with great interest for the restaurant tips. We are going to Melbourne in February and can't make it back in May, but hope that you all have a fantastic time.

lavandula is online now  
Jan 25th, 2010, 10:20 PM
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2 venues that are suitable size wise and , cost and menu wise are All nations Hotel Richmond which has a room that could be used and the kent Hotel rathdowne street Carltom which does large group bookings. I have used both of these for group bookings. A short taxi ride from a city hotel or walking distance for the Richmond if staying in east melbourne area.
northie is offline  
Jan 26th, 2010, 02:58 PM
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O'Connells Hotel in South Melbourne might be worth a thought. Not hard to find by tram from the city, and it's very pleasant. Maybe drinks at the bar, then retire to a private room?
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Jan 26th, 2010, 04:36 PM
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I shouldn't be poking my nose in from this distance and complicating matters further, and I apologise for doing so, but my sources in Melbourne suggest that the following could be worthy of consideration:

The Press Club

Circa, The Prince (St Kilda)

Lemongrass (Thai food)

Cestbon (Sth Melbourne)

A Crown Casino venue -- several options available.

It may be that some of these are too far away from the centre of the city to be viable. On the other hand, those staying centrally could meet a little earlier in the afternoon/evening and share the "thrill" of a tram ride to and from the venue.

kiwi_rob is offline  

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