Published on 24 September 2020
As we're allowed to gather in small groups outdoors in Melbourne, the picnic is about to become the new party. And that means it's worth pulling out all stops for. Whether you want to lean luxe with boxes of nigiri or you’re looking for the best sandwiches in town, our guide to eating in the open air will ensure your picnic rug is the most prized piece of real estate in the park.
You can rely on Peter Rowland to nail the picnic brief. With sister company Pop Up Picnic, not only has the premium caterer created hampers for high tea in the park, gluten-free grazing and vegan picnicking, the team will also drop the goodies to popular picnic destinations. Most packs come with a picnic rug, glasses, cutlery and napkins, too. All class, even on grass. (And yes, you can get the chicken sandwiches.)
Hampers available for one, two or groups of five or more. Delivery available to a wide range of Melbourne suburbs with delivery to select picnic locations coming soon. Order at peterrowland.com
For all the planners out there, a Cookes picnic box has your name written all over it. Order a box of cheese, wine, bread, dips, cured things and sweet treats and it’ll arrive just in time for the weekend. And if you like to start your day in the park, the croissants, cured trout with horseradish cream and Mimosas of the Brunch Box are sure to suit.
From $120. Pick up from 11-11a Wellington St, St Kilda, Fri-Sat each week. Delivery available within across Melbourne, Fri-Sat for $15, with park drop-offs to come soon. Order at cookesfood.com.au
Come Saturday, you can swing past the stately terrace opposite Carlton Gardens that’s home to Epocha and pick up a picnic box. Each one contains potato salad with parsley and shallot, roast beef and mustard rolls, quiche and a ploughman’s lunch, plus the option to add on something sweet (trifle perhaps?), or perhaps oysters, cocktails or wine and beer. A little pre-planning is required – there are no walk-ins for the boxes – but who isn’t counting down to the weekends right now?
$70 for two. Pre-order for pick-up from 49 Rathdowne St, Carlton, 9am-3pm or 4pm-8pm on Saturdays. Order online at epocha.com.au
King & Godfree
If you feel like you’ve lost hours of your life in the deli at King & Godfree, let the pros make the difficult decisions for you this picnic season. As well as sets of baguettes - both meaty and vegetarian - there's a Primo Picnic Box of rug-friendly snacks, or the Antipasti Box, filled with the day’s best from the salumi and cheese cabinets. Plus the TGIF box is appropriate for any day of the week in our opinion. Ortiz anchovies, Bay of Fires cheddar, tapenade and ’nduja – need we say more?
From $60 for a box for four. Delivery available to a selection of Melbourne suburbs, charges apply. Order online at kingandgodfree.com
Good bread, fine cheese and meat, and a bottle of something eminently smashable – the folks at Meatsmith know the ingredients of a good picnic, and they’re happy to share the formula. Purchase their picnic hamper filled with wares from Baker Bleu, L’Artisan and the house range and you’ll also get a nifty cooler bag for future outdoor dining.
$115 for hamper. Pre-order for pick-up at Meatsmith stores (Fitzroy, Brighton, St Kilda). Delivery available to a wide range of Melbourne suburbs. Order at meatsmith.com.au
Rocco’s Bologna Discoteca
Come for the fried bologna sandwiches and stay for the antipasti. Rocco’s chef Josh Fry earned his stripes at the likes of Marion and Cumulus, and it shows in his choice of suppliers for his pop-up Italo-American restaurant. In the antipasti box, you might find Mount Zero olives, Porthos sardines, Savour & Grace salumi and carte di musica, the Sardinian flatbread that’s paper-thin (and a step-up from a box of crackers). The wines to go are nothing to sniff at, either.
Pick up at 81-83 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Fri-Sat noon-8pm, Sun noon-6pm. Order by phone 0435 236 115 or online at roccosbolognadiscoteca.com
Marion x Baker Bleu
There’s more than just bread at this pop-up bakery that’s been operating out of Marion Wine for much of this year. Be prepared to be tempted by quiches and pizza dotted with bright green asparagus or perhaps zucchini and artichoke, spiced apple bundt cakes, escargots with pistachio and barberry, Basque cheesecake, or the sandwich of the day (hint: it’s always a good choice). There are pantry staples and wine also for sale, and it’s impossible to walk out without a loaf for home.
Walk-ins welcome, or pre-order up until 6pm the day before. Pick up from 53 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Tues-Sun 8am-3pm. Order at marionwine.com.au
Smith & Deli
How do you want to play it? Nachos, Halal snack packs, and eveything all put together for you, or all that vegan deli goodness - the cheeses, the coldcuts, the dips and salads, breads and bagels - for which Smith & Deli is known to mix and match for yourself? And what about the sandwiches? And the pies and brownies? We're gonna need a bigger rug.
Walk-ins welcome Tues, Fri and Sat; pre-orders and delivery available via Mr Yum Tues-Sat. Order before noon for same-day delivery, and before 3pm for same-day pick up from the deli at 111 Moor St, Fitzroy, Tues-Sat 9am-4pm. Order ahead at mryum.com/smithanddeli
King & Godfree's Picnic Time box
Tiny but mighty, this favourite bakery of the north puts its super crunchy baguettes to good use in the likes of egg, salad or chicken sandwiches, while for those who like their bread flat, there’s simple pizze topped with tomato and olive, capers and more. And we haven’t even mentioned the savoury danishes and sausage rolls yet.
Pick up at 143 Scotchmer St, Fitzroy North, daily, 8.30am-2pm. Pre-order is available on bread, some pastries and other select items; no hot food or sandwiches. Order at loaferbread.com
Take some favourite Italian snacks, add bread and a picnic rug and you’ve got a great afternoon ahead. Pinotta’s new lunch menu includes sandwiches stuffed with fried calamari or eggplant parmigiana as well as a grilled porterhouse number with Béarnaise sauce and fries. Plus the bottle shop is stocked with extremely drinkable wines and Spritzes made for a lazy couple of hours on the grass.
Pick up from 32 Best St, Fitzroy North, Wed-Sat, noon-3pm for lunch, noon-6pm for bottle shop and grocery. pinotta.com.au
The star of any plant-based picnic, falafel is the chief offering of this Fitzroy North favourite. Whether you like them in a pita, on top of hummus or fancy free as part of a banquet, falafels are available in pleasing variety at Just Falafs, meaning regular customers never get bored.
Walk-ins accepted or pre-order online. Pick up from 207 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North, Mon-Fri, 11am-8pm, Sat 11am-7pm. Order at justfalafs.com.au
All Are Welcome
From lesser-known French specialties like bostock and kouign amann to Georgian khachapuri, the cabinet at this bakery is full of things to tempt you and your outdoor dining pals. You can pre-order most things online, along with cheese, preserves and whole cakes, but the sandwiches (also very worthy of your time) are pick-up only.
Walk ins accepted or pre-order up until 3pm the day before. Pick up from 190 High St, Northcote or 887 High St, Thornbury. Delivery available to select surrounding suburbs, charges apply. Pre-order at allarewelcome.com.
The Laotian sandwiches chef Thi Le is cooking up on weekends from her restaurant, Anchovy, have achieved almost mythical status in Melbourne. A relative of banh mi, the khao jee pâté Le serves almost always sell out, and it’s no wonder. Crusty rolls are filled with things hot from the grill, whether it’s turmeric-stained chicken, morel mushrooms or herb-flecked pork sausage, along with pickles, coriander, and pork pâté.
Pick up from 338 Bridge Rd, Richmond, Fri-Sun, 11am-2pm or until sold out. anchovy.net.au
Is it even a picnic without a sandwich? Up there among Melbourne’s best purveyors of things between bread, Hector’s Deli never strays too far from tried and true – they’re all about refining the classics. The menu of tuna melts, chicken schnitty sangas and veg-friendly mushroom numbers, now bolstered with a variety of sandos made to travel, is always reliable. Which is more than we can say for Melbourne’s weather.
Pick up from 1/94 Buckingham St, Richmond, Mon-Fri 7.30am-2pm, Sat 7.30am-3pm, Sun 7.30am-2pm. hectorsdeli.com.au
The Left-Handed Chef
Israeli street food is equally at home on a patch of grass in Melbourne – but if you don’t believe us, take The Left-Handed Chef to your next outdoor gathering. Feasts are a good option for larger households, with pitas, falafels, hummus, pickled cabbage and more; otherwise the challah loaf stuffed with schnitzel, pickles and crumbed eggplant has got fun times written all over it. Pitas and hummus plates are also available.
Pick up from 219 Park St, South Melbourne, Wed-Sun, noon-2.30pm, 6pm-7.30pm. Delivery available to select suburbs, Wed-Sun, noon-2.30pm, 6pm-7.30pm. Order online at lhceatery.com
Maker & Monger
There are cheese boards and then there’s a Maker & Monger cheese board. The specialty cheese shop at Prahran Market offers two choices, one celebrating Victorian producers like Berrys Creek, Stone & Crow, Shaw River and Holy Goat, while the other zeroes-in on three French benchmarks available in Australia: Brillat-Savarin, Marcel Petite Comté and Carles Roquefort, accompanied by a one-off plum jam made by Attica’s Ben Shewry.
From $40 for two. Pick up from stall 98, Prahran Market,163 Commercial Rd, South Yarra on Tues and Thurs-Sun. Delivery available within a 15km radius of Prahran Market, Tues and Thurs-Sun, minimum order $50, charges apply. Order at makerandmonger.com.au
From banh mi to fresh spring rolls, the Hanoi Hannah takeaway menu has plenty of action for picnic baskets. While we’d advise steering clear of outdoor-dining danger zones like pho and yellow curry, you can create an impressive spread with bowls of bún, poached chicken coleslaw, monster banh mi loaded with fried chicken, chargrilled pork and more, and a couple of Vietnamese iced coffees.
Pick up from 186 High St, Windsor. Delivery available to a selection of surrounding suburbs for $4, minimum order $10. Order at hanoihannah.com.au
Yours could be the most sought-after patch of grass when you unveil a box of the good stuff from Komeyui. Chef Motomu Kumano’s bento boxes have been a silver lining of takeaway life, but we reckon the sushi sets have got premium picnic written all over them. Whether you’re all about the best cuts of tuna, salmon and snapper, or you’re curious about the restaurant’s sushi cake, there’s something for every sushi fan, including a serious sake list to keep the good times rolling.
Pick up from 181 Ferrars St, South Melbourne, Tues-Sun, 11am-2pm, 5pm-7.30pm. Delivery available within a 30km radius of South Melbourne, Tues-Sun, minimum order $150. Order at komeyui.shop
Located a stone’s throw from both Albert Park Lake and the St Kilda foreshore, Fitzrovia knows a thing or two about putting together baskets of snacks. In the savoury column, expect chicken sandwiches, vegetable tarts and pork and fennel sausage rolls, while those who only have eyes for sweets will be pleased to see clotted cream and berries or a flourless chocolate brownie in their hamper.
$150 for two. Pick up from 155 Fitzroy St, St Kilda, 7 days, 8am-3pm. Delivery within a 10km radius of St Kilda, 7 days 3:30pm-6pm. Order at fitzroviaprovidore.com.au
A Maker & Monger toastie (credit: Kristoffer Paulsen)
Asado To Go
For serious sandwiches, look no further than Asado’s takeaway menu. You’ll find the likes of char-grilled chorizo with chimichurri, steak with tomato and horseradish mayo, or fried chicken with chopped egg and chipotle mayonnaise stuffed into crusty rolls. But if it’s a knife-and-fork picnic, don’t go past the rotisserie chicken rubbed with smoky Mapuche spice mix and the full complement of salads.
Spring St Grocer
There’s no shortage of alfresco fare on the shelves of this Euro-leaning grocer. But if a perfectly proportioned pack of salty things (anchovies!), creamy things (cheese!) and crunchy things (cornichons!) is in order, look no further than the Cheesemonger’s Choice Antipasto Pack. There’s more excitement to be found in the cellar too – this is the sister business to City Wine Shop after all.
$85 for antipasto pack. Pre-order for pick-up from 157 Spring St, Melbourne, 9.30am-8.30pm, 7 days. Delivery available within a 10km radius of Melbourne CBD, 1pm-5pm, 7 days, $15 for orders under $150. Order at springstreetgrocer.com.au
Leave the weekend snack line-up to the pros at Saluministi and you’re likely to find prosciutto, smoked mozzarella, wild boar salami and caper berries on your doorstep. Rounded out with bread, olives, and Abruzzese cookies, plus whatever you fancy from the Italian-leaning wine shop, an order from Saluministi is never a bad idea.
$60 for antipasto box. Pre-order for pick up from 829 Bourke St, Docklands, Mon-Sat, 11am-2.30pm. Delivery within a 15km radius of Melbourne CBD every Friday, $15 or free on orders over $100. Order at saluministi.com.au
Smoked onion rings. Fried chicken with buttermilk sauce. Martin’s potato rolls loaded with 14-hour smoked brisket and pickles. Fancy Hank’s and its low-and-slow delights are within easy reach of some of the CBD’s most lush gardens, with a good-looking menu of drinks for sunny days, too. Does barbecue always taste better outdoors? There’s only one way to find out.
Pre-order for pick up from 1/79 Bourke St, Melbourne, Wed-Fri 4pm-7.45pm, Sat-Sun noon-7.45pm. Order at fancyhanks.com
Hudsons Road Wine & Beer
All signs point towards Hudsons Road when you’re in the market for charcuterie, cheese and other picnic staples. The deli and grocer in Spotswood stocks a wide range of goodies from the likes of City Larder and That’s Amore, while the bottle shop is a treasure trove of Melbourne craft beers, Victorian gin and fun, fizzy things perfect for spring.
Walk ins accepted or pre-order select items online. Pick up from shop 2, 88 Hudsons Rd, Spotswood, Tues-Fri noon-7.30pm, Sat 11am-7.30pm, Sun 11am-7pm. Delivery available within a 20km radius, $10 charge. Pre-order at hudsonsroad.com.au.
Prawn katsu burgers. Lemon meringue pies. Crumbed chicken and spicy vodka sauce in a baguette. This tiny shopfront in the heart of downtown Footscray has a knack for delivering OTT combos that you never even knew you wanted. Pro tip: there’s no such thing as restraint when you’re ordering Roman’s.
Pick up from 50 Leeds St, Footscray. romansoriginal.com
By Emma Breheny
You might also like
Sign up to our weekly news on Victoria's best food and drink.