The five best Melbourne Cup lunches in Sydney for 2018

Whether you engage with the race itself or not, Melbourne Cup is always a good excuse to get out of the office and sneak a long festive lunch in with the colleagues. Sydney’s best restaurants and bars always put their best food forward when it comes to “the face that stops the nation”, putting together packages to help soak up that leisurely spring vibe with good drinks and even better food. We’ve gone through and picked out five of the best Melbourne Cup lunches in and around the city that’ll be the hottest tickets going on Cup Day, Tuesday 6th November.

Planar Restaurant & Bar (Darling Harbour)

One of the top Sydney spots to immerse yourself in everything Melbourne Cup this year will be the fresh new Planar Restaurant and Bar in Darling Harbour. with plans to host an unforgettable afternoon of Fashions on the Field, the sun-soaked venue will be making full use of their picturesque alfresco space overlooking the harbour and city skyline while punters enjoy bottomless bubbles, beer and wine for 3 hours along with endless delicious canapes, substantial dishes and desserts.

$85pp will net you all the above, with food including mini duck salads, Planar’s popular mouthwatering pizzas (you NEED to try their buffalo mozzarella pizza), mini prawn skewers, and a chef’s selection of desserts. Fashion and lifestyle blogger Margarita Nazarenko and a handful of special guests will be helping judge the best dressed on the day, so make sure you aim to take the top spot for Planar’s first Fashions on the Field party. Oh, and of course there’s going to large screens set up so people can watch the big race.

Website: planarrestaurant.com.au/melbourne-cup-2018/
When: Tuesday 6th November; 12pm onwards; 3 hour package
Contact: info@planarrestaurant.com.au | (02) 9212 6789
Address: ICC Sydney, Shop C08, Ground Floor/14 Darling Dr, Darling Harbour NSW 2000

Mode Kitchen & Bar (The Rocks)

Strut into the glamourous Four Seasons Hotel Sydney and head straight to Mode Kitchen & Bar on Melbourne Cup day. The celebrated modern Australian restaurant will be screening the race live while you and your colleagues or friends indulge in a curated three-course Cup Day lunch menu offered from 12pm. Seeing as Mode Kitchen & Bar has been one of the most consistently excellent dining spots in the area, that’s a damn good deal: fresh seasonal produce with shared starters, a main, and dessert for the table for $95pp.

That’s not at all bad for a menu that reads like a foodie’s dream, with options like Sydney rock oysters served with gazoacho granita; hiramasa kingfish with macadamia, sweet and sour sauce; grass-fed beef tartare and focaccia croutons; wood-fire roasted Australian toothfish with heirloom tomatoes and basil; grilled Coorong Angus medallions with cauliflower and bagna cauda; and a dessert of mango meringue, coconut sorbet and hazelnuts.

Top that up with a $99 bottle of G.H.Mumm Champagne (or $15 per glass) for the table, or perhaps go for a $60 pitcher of classic Pimms Cup cocktails ($15 for a single serve) to help work up the festive long lunch vibe. Just make sure to book in advance if you want to secure one of those gorgeous banquettes or a spot at their immaculate central bar. Group bookings for 10 or more people are also available.

Website: modekitchenandbar.com.au
When: Tuesday 6th November; 12pm onwards
Contact: 02) 9250 3160 | hello@modekitchenandbar.com.au
Address: 199 George St, The Rocks NSW 2000

Gowings Bar & Grill (CBD)

The swanky Gowings Bar & Grill at high-concept property QT Sydney will be luring punters with the restaurant’s seductive interiors and promises of a long lunch well worth the time. For Melbourne Cup, their celebration will welcome guests with a glass of Mumm in the hotel lobby before ushering them to a three-course set menu featuring the likes of kingfish ceviche, sirloin steak, and caramelised peart tart tartin.

The lunch will run alongside a host of entertainment, live DJs, sweepstakes, Fashion on the Field prizes, and a special Sabrage Station hosted by Mumm. The long lunch ain’t all though; all guests are invited upstairs to Gilt Lounge after lunch for an exclusive race day party. Tickets are $150pp.

Website: qthotelsandresorts.com
When: Tuesday 6th November
Contact: 02 8262 0062
Address: 49 Market St, Sydney NSW 2000

SoCal (Neutral Bay)

If you find yourself on the other side of the bridge on Tuesday than Neutral Bay’s SoCal is where it’s at for Melbourne Cup. The breezy Southern Californian bar will be screening the live action of the race along with offers of their sharing feast menu full of the kitchen’s most popular bites like Tequila gazpacho, grilled octopus, crab tacos, and grilled Moreton Bay bugs. Prized for the best-dressed and sweepstakes will also be running for the day.

Tickets are set at $85pp and including a glass of G.H.Mumm on arrival; those who want to add on a two-hour drinks package are looking at an additional $55pp

Website: socalsydney.com.au/
When: Tuesday 6th November
Contact: 02 9904 5691
Address: 1 Young St, Neutral Bay NSW 2089

The Unicorn (Paddington)

One of Sydney’s most beloved pubs, The Unicorn in Paddington, has a simple and straight forward package planned for the Melbourne Cup. No word on if they are actually screening the race, but for those who just want to use Cup Day as an excuse for a long, delicious lunch, this one’s a winner.

The kitchen will be doing up an $80pp banquet menu so you and your colleagues can indulge in plentiful seafood, including raw hiramasa kingish and BBQ prawns, and a special strawberry pavlova with white chocolate, jelly and sherbert. Drink up though – one dollar from every schooner of Reschs at the bar will be donated to the Coalition for the Protection of Race Horses.

We’ll be serving $30 cocktail jugs of Lynchberg Lemonade and $15 Kir Royales on the day and will be donating $1 from every schooner of Reschs to the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses.

Website: theunicornhotel.com.au
When: Tuesday 6th November
Contact: enquiries@theunicornhotel.com.au
Address: 106 Oxford St, Paddington NSW 2021

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review, an obsessive hip hop nerd, a whisky drinker, and a lover of all things travel. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter with @chrisdsingh.