Food & Drink

Best Food for Australia Day

By Kathryn Kernohan
23rd Jan 2014

Barbecues. Beer. Hottest 100 parties. Australian Open finals.

Whatever your plans on Sunday, Australia Day marks a chance to celebrate everything that's good about our country, before the days get shorter and the weather gets colder.

If you're catering for guests, chances are you've already planned a bona fide Australian menu – barbecued meats, lamingtons, maybe some Vegemite, too (not served with the other stuff though – that'd be gross).

But if you're still at a loose end, explore The Urban List's guide to the best food for Australia Day, rounding up the places churning out the best classic Australian dishes, some with a unique, contemporary twist (lamington ice cream – yes please!). It may be the only time you'll feel patriotic and hungry at once.


There's not much to the lamington, when you think about it. Soft sponge cake, jam, chocolate icing and a smattering of coconut flakes – maybe a bit of cream, if you're feeling adventurous. Named after one-time Governor of Queensland, Lord Lamington (yes, we're serious), the oh-so-Aussie dessert can be found in virtually every bakery, cake store and supermarket across the country, but we love the lammies at Candied Bakery in Spotswood.

For something a little different, Prahran's Oscar Cooper is known for its white chocolate lamingtons (they're as good as they sound); Long Shot's Shaun Quade has whipped up an interesting version with toasted coconut, bitter chocolate cake, chocolate and Heilala vanilla mousse, plumped with strawberry gel infused with eucalyptus (Aussie Aussie Aussie!); and Sticky Fingers Bakery has reinvented the lamington as a vanilla cupcake with a jam centre, chocolate icing and coconut flakes. It's even named after Dame Edna for extra patriotic points.

If you're after decadence, savour the richness of a lamington éclair (chocolate cream, marshmallow, jam and jelly) at South Yarra's Burch & Purchese (they've also done a lamington ice cream sandwich!).

Speaking of lamington ice cream, it's on the menu at Albert Park's iconic Jock's and chain store Trampoline – the latter a combination of vanilla sponge ice cream with chocolate-covered coconut and raspberry jam. Wash it down with a Liquid Lamington at Trunk – yes, it's as rich as it sounds and it's definitely on our Australia Day menu!


Pavlovas can come in all shapes and sizes, but all have a couple of things in common – sugary sweet meringue and an abundance of freshly sliced fruit.

As ubiquitous as plum pudding at an Australian Christmas lunch, the good ol' pav can be found in traditional form at cafes such as Brunswick's Green Refectory, where it is sold by slice or entire cake.

A couple of big-name chefs have recently put their own spin on the classic dish. Shannon Bennett's Vue de Monde has been known to serve a deconstructed pavlova, highlighted by dehydrated strawberries, kiwi and blueberries. Over at George Calombaris' Gazi, the Greek-inspired pavlova, filled with grapefruit sorbet and lemon curd, is turning heads this summer.

Chocolate fiends aren't forgotten at Chokolait, where the signature dish remains the chocolate pavlova: layers of meringue and chocolate topped with chocolate syrup and strawberries.

Trampoline always gets into the spirit of Australia Day with limited-edition ice cream flavours, but a mainstay on the menu is the Berry Pav, filled with raspberries and meringue.

And no list of desserts would be complete without a mention of Adriano Zumbo, who finally set up shop in Melbourne late last year. The pastry king is known to whip up pavlova macarons and passionfruit pavlova 'zonuts' for special occasions – and this Australia Day there's a Vegemite on Toast zumbaron if you dare…


There's not much more dinky-di than holding a meat pie in one hand and a stubby in the other – preferably while the football or cricket takes precedence on TV.

But while the Four'n'Twenty pie from 7-Eleven has its time and place (desperate times call for desperate measures), Melbourne is home to some upmarket pies that wouldn't be out of place on a fine dining menu.

Brunswick East providore Hams & Bacon – owned by Pope Joan, two doors down – serves a Moroccan-lamb style pie courtesy of Kyneton's Piper Street Food Company, while at Gills Diner you'll find old-school beef and burgundy or chicken and leek versions, served with chips and fattoush salad.

The Richmond Pie Shop is a mere torpedo punt from the MCG, and has more than a dozen varieties at any time, from the classic Aussie Beef to Thai Chicken and Chunky Angus Beef. Several favourites come in family size, so you can share them with friends, or just pig out yourself.

Pie in the Sky is nowhere near a tram line, but it's worth the day trip to Olinda, in the Dandenong Ranges. The winner of 11 gold medals in the annual Great Aussie Meat Pie Competition, the cosy and inviting cafe serves everything from pie floaters to an award-winning Korma Chicken speciality.

Vegetarians and vegans aren't left out, either – hit Preston's La Panella for drool-worthy and meat-free pies, pasties and sausage rolls.


While your garden-variety lamb from the local butcher may be perfect for your Australia Day barbecue, there are plenty of dishes across town that may have you reconsidering your plans.

When you think lamb, you think Hellenic Republic. George Calombaris' Greek eatery – which recently opened a branch in Kew to complement its original Brunswick digs – wins rave reviews for its Arni Sto Fourno – a slow-roasted shoulder of lamb seasoned with garlic and oregano.

Cumulus Inc.'s lamb shoulder is available take-away and Rockpool's lamb cutlets are worth braving Crown for. Over at Northcote's Ribs & Burgers, diners have the choice of lamb, beef or pork ribs, slow cooked for eight hours and caramelised with a top-secret basting.

Brunswick Street is home to a couple of late-night souvlaki joints that do roaring trade on weekends, but there's a fresh take on the staple dish at Pireaus Blues, where two skewers of perfectly grilled lamb are served with lemon potatoes and grilled pita bread.

TIM TAM      

Ever found yourself in a supermarket in London, New York or Tokyo, scanning the biscuit aisle for Tim Tams? You're unlikely to have had much success – the Arnott's favourite, which turns 50 this year – remains far more popular (and easy to find) in Australia than abroad.

For some, the whole chocolate-on-chocolate thing is a bit too much, but others swear by it. They're the type of people you'll spy at Trunk, slurping away on a Tim Tam Slam Milkshake (which is, as the name suggests, a combination of crushed Tim Tams, ice cream and milk).

If you're searching for a cake to impress on Australia Day, look no further than Dolce Vita's Tim Tam cake. Think layers of caramel and white chocolate cheesecake, a biscuit base, chocolate mousse and dark and white chocolate garnish – all topped with a few Tim Tams. Over at Emerald Hill Cafe, there's a Tim Tam cheesecake oozing with chocolate, cream and the famous biscuits.

Tim Tam-flavoured ice cream isn't uncommon either – our favourite is at Hawthorn's Cones, where other unique flavours include bubblegum and cinnamon.

We're sad to report that the Death By Tim Tam cocktail (vanilla vodka, Bailey's, Creeme de Cacao, butterscotch Schnapps, caramel and chocolate syrup, ice cream and Tim Tams) is no longer on the menu at The Carlton Yacht Club – but we're told if you ask bar staff nicely, you may just get lucky.


Anzac biscuits – those chewy, oat-laden treats you remember from childhood – have long been associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). As this August marks 100 years since the commencement of World War I, it's fair to say the biscuits have more historical significance than usual this year.

Online, you'll find recipes for everything from chocolate and choc-chip to berry and salted caramel versions of the classic biscuit, while Phillippa's Bakery and the out-of-town Beechworth Bakery are some of the best places to buy your traditional.

Coburg North's Silly Yak Bakery, which specialises in wheat and gluten free products, makes biscuits loaded with golden syrup, which are suitable for both the coeliac and the vegan in your life.

The award-winning Fritz Gelato (Richmond, South Melbourne, St Kilda and South Yarra) serves more than 30 varieties of ice cream and sorbet, including an Anzac-inspired ice cream that captures everything you love about the biscuit.

Main Image Credit: Hungry Australian

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