Fantastic Melbourne Dinner Party Menu for Easy Entertaining

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3 Course Menu with Recipes and Wine Pairings (Winter and Summer Variations)

Spiced quinoa - comfort butternut squash quinoa soup with crunch www.compassandfork.comWho doesn’t like a good dinner party? Today we feature our Melbourne dinner party from the best of our Melbourne-based recipes. As well we highlight the pleasures around two popular wine-growing regions on Melbourne’s doorstep, the Yarra Valley Region and the Mornington Peninsula Region.

This continues our series of featuring a dinner party from all of the regions or countries that we visit. Food and travel is a great combination for many people, so come along for our little sojourn around Melbourne and please make the recipes, you won’t be disappointed.

Dinner parties are still common in Melbourne but we have noticed a growing trend of friends and family groupings getting together at restaurants rather than hosting dinner parties. I have particularly observed this amongst younger groups. I think there are four reasons for this:

  • Maybe there is more money in the community than in years gone by so there is a greater capacity to pay;
  • Lots of people are time-poor keeping up with jobs and outside activities;
  • I suspect younger people are taking more time to leave the family home. Although wage levels are high in Australia, so are property prices; and
  • No mess to clean up (ok that is a big advantage to going out)

I must admit though to a strong preference for hosting or attending a dinner party at a home, especially if at night. I just think it is more comfortable, it is easier for children and you can go at your own pace and be as relaxed as you want without potentially offending other restaurant guests.

5 Insider Tips for Enjoying Fantastic Food in Melbourne Great Coffee Art www.compassandfork.comHowever, we still enjoy a restaurant meal that is for sure! But we find ourselves going out more often for breakfast than for dinner! As I mentioned in previous posts, Melbourne breakfasts are legendary, and it is that multi-cultural influence which is the main driver for that. It is also a cheaper exercise going out for breakfast as (usually) no alcohol is involved, only divine coffee instead! Plus, showing my age here, I don’t have to deal with night-time crowds if I go out for breakfast.

However, I digress. It is a dinner party we are featuring today and it is definitely not breakfast on the menu! Before we move onto the menu, let’s just talk about two of Melbourne’s nearby wine regions.

Yarra Valley Wine Region

The Yarra Valley Region is on the eastern and north eastern fringe of Melbourne. It is a very short day trip especially from the eastern suburbs. Wineries are just one of the many attractions here. The Yarra Valley is home to family farms producing great produce, lovely scenery, great hiking and cycling. It is just a pleasant place to visit and relax.

And many Melbournians do. The more than 80 wineries here are always open for tastings and most have excellent restaurants, cafes and outdoor areas for you to take in the beautiful scenery. Early-morning balloon rides are also very popular and something I would highly recommend. Drifting over wineries with the early morning mists rising from the valley with faraway views of the mountains is like being in some fantasy film. You just have to pinch yourself.

Apart from the scenery you have the opportunity to taste some sublime wines. Common varieties grown in the Yarra Valley include red varieties Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Merlot, while the whites are dominated by Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The area also has a growing reputation for the production of high quality sparkling wines. The sparkling wines of the Yarra Valley rival those of Northern Tasmania for the role of the premier sparkling wine of Australia. Yarra Valley Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Chardonnay are also represented among the top wines for their classes.

Winter in Yarra Valley - Fantastic Melbourne Dinner Party for Easy Entertaining
Yarra Valley in Winter

If you are into organic food, wines, pleasant scenery and have a sense of adventure then you will love the Yarra Valley. It is a great place for overseas visitors. There is one well-known story here of a Canadian couple who arrived at Melbourne Airport, hired a car and had plans to slowly drive around the coast to Sydney over 10 days or so. Their first stop was the Yarra Valley but they enjoyed it so much that they never left the valley! It is just that sort of place.

Mornington Peninsula Wine Region

We do love the Yarra Valley, but if we were able to choose a nearby region to live it would be the Mornington Peninsula. Often dubbed Melbourne’s playground, the Mornington Peninsula has those rolling hills, great ocean (surfing) beaches as well as calm, bayside beaches fantastic for families. It also contains excellent hiking opportunities and is also home to many of Melbourne’s great golf courses.

Those rolling hills contain many, beautiful forests and those lucky enough to live in the hills have magical views over the water. There are quaint cafes dotted around the peninsula with vineyards nestled in the gentle hills. You can drive around here for days and never get sick of this place. It contains one of the best natural spas I have seen, Peninsula Hot Springs. I highly recommend the private baths (great for couples).

But if it is wine you are interested in then you will love “the peninsula”. Home to more than 50 cellar doors and 200 vineyards, it is a young region with vineyards first being established in the 1970’s. It produces world-renowned Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Pinot Grigio and Shiraz are also popular from this region.

Melbourne Dinner Party

So to round off our month in Melbourne, remember November (late spring in Melbourne) is good food month (all around Australia), we are publishing our Melbourne Dinner Party, both the winter version as well as the summer version.

Before we move on to the Melbourne dinner party, if you want to read more about Melbourne and its food, then try here:



Pumpkin soup - comfort butternut squash quinoa soup with crunch

Comfort Butternut Squash Quinoa Soup with Crunch  (Winter).

Match with Chardonnay. Crittenden Estate from Mornington Peninsula or Coldstream Hills from the Yarra Valley are great choices.


With a Glass of Wine - Colorful Grilled Seafood Salad with Wild Rice

Colorful Grilled Seafood Salad with Wild Rice (Summer)

Match with Semillon. Try De Bortoli Estate from the Yarra Valley.

Main Course

Ready to carve - Traditional Roast Pork with Better Crackling

Traditional Roast Pork with Better Crackling

Match with either Pinot Noir, try a Paringa Estate from the Mornington Peninsula, or a toasty Chardonnay, try a Dominique Portet from the Yarra Valley.


Big Platter - Quality Gourmet Cheese Platter for the Senses

Quality Gourmet Cheese Platter for the Senses

Try a Stanton and Killeen Muscat (world’s best)




Fantastic Melbourne Dinner Party Menu for Easy Entertaining
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Recipe Notes

We have featured previous dinner parties in some of our favorite travel destinations. You can access them here:

  • Turkey (the mezes are great);
  • Italy (the tiramisu with grappa is a highlight);
  • Patagonia (the dulce de leche crème caramel is sublime); and
  • Vietnam (beef noodle pho –one of the best soups you will ever have)

18 Responses

  1. Krista Bjorn
    | Reply

    What a beautiful photo of the vineyard. 🙂 That pork crackling looks outrageously good. 🙂

    • Editor

      Yes the crackling is hard to go past (naughty though it is). The Yarra Valley is a lovely place for a vineyard. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Anna @ shenANNAgans
    | Reply

    Mornington Peninsula Wine Region is where I would one day like to reside, its gorgeous and has all the things that make my heart happy. Count me in for your dinner parties, people just don’t seem to do them these days, which is sad, because some of my most favourite memories are from around my dinner table. Looking forward to trying your recipes too.

    • Editor

      Anna, I agree with you about the Mornington Pennisula- so beautiful! ANd we were just talking about dinner parties last night, we all love them and have great memories, but now people want to go to a restaurant which is just not the same. It doesn’t provide a great opportunity to really catch-up and talk to people like going to someone’s house does.

  3. Elissa
    | Reply

    That looks fantastic. It is true people are going out more and cooking less for each other at home, so it’s great that you shared these recipes.

    • Editor

      Yes, I prefer to go to someone’s house than go to a restaurant. I hope the dinner party makes a comeback!

  4. Prateek
    | Reply

    Great write up, and that skin on the pork is simply gorgeous. I like the entire menu , especially the finish with the cheeses. I do not prefer a very sweet ending hence that works out fine for me!

    • Editor

      Glad you like the menu. I’m a bit of an addict when it comes to pork crackling and love cheese to finish a meal. It’s no fuss and you can linger over it.

  5. Eileen | The Food Avenue
    | Reply

    Oh wow that crackling! I am in love!

    • Editor

      I thought I was the pork crackling addict! I really do enjoy it though. It is very gourmet. Thanks for your comment.

  6. Rosemary
    | Reply

    What a foodie delight. The roast looks divine. I’m a big fan of Australian wines and will have to look for the wines from the Yarra Valley. Agree with you, when hosting a dinner party, you are so much more flexible with the food and company. Great recipes!

    • Editor

      Thank you so much Rosemary. The Australian cuisine is very eclectic these days so plenty of choices for an Australian-themed dinner party. And Australian wines are fairly easy to source these days in a good range of countries.

  7. Lauren / Knead to Dough
    | Reply

    Thank you for adding wine pairings – this is my weak area when it comes to hosting a meal!

    • Editor

      Lauren, thanks for the feedback. I don’t always do the wine pairings so thanks for the reminder.

  8. Laura
    | Reply

    This is fantastic. I love squash soup. I think it’s the perfect starter for just about any dinner party. Also the wine pairings are great. In my opinion, every dish needs its own wine.

    • Editor

      Laura, so pleased you enjoyed the wine pairings. I don’t always do that for our dinner party posts, but I do know Australian wines fairly well. Your the second person to have commented on that so will continue that practice into the future.

  9. Chef Devaux
    | Reply

    The Roast Pork is an absolutely winner. It looks great. And it’s perfect for the Christmas holiday.

    • Editor

      It really is hard to beat Roast Pork with that gorgeous crackling! Thanks for your comment.

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