One of my favorite dining memories in Melbourne is sitting in a cozy, 90-year-old tram and enjoying a four-course lunch with my in-laws and my husband.
Shortly after moving to Melbourne, we noticed this fleet of burgundy-colored tram cars that roll throughout the CBD and into some of the nearby neighborhoods. Since hubby loves trains, he insisted that we find out how the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant worked. I was wary because this activity sounded too touristy to me. Come to find out, the restaurant is booked weeks in advance is very, very difficult to get into. We’re not talking Michelin-starred service, but the tramcar restaurant is a very unique, Aussie thing to do!
After trying for months to book a table on the weekend, we finally scored a weekday reservation during my in-laws’ January visit to Australia. This roving restaurant offers one lunch and two dinner sittings each day, 365 days a year. The menus feature modern Australian cuisine and local wines. Yay for wine!
The historic tram cars date to 1927 and actually were used for transport service around the city for approximately 55 years. The restaurant service started in August 1983 with a single tram, as amendments were required to the Liquor License Act to allow for the service of alcohol on a mobile restaurant.
Our dining experience started with an appetizer of two dips – hummus and a creamy roasted red pepper. Our server even provided gluten-free rice crackers for me.
For our entrées, three of us had the tender duck terrine wrapped in prosciutto with a wild berry relish while my mother-in-law had the pretty smoked Tasmanian salmon and avocado mousse stack with tomato salsa. Both dishes were a lot fancier than we had imagined!
For our mains, everyone ordered the slow-cooked beef served with pomme dauphinoise and red wine jus. Of course, we all had enjoyed a nice glass or perhaps two of an Australian shiraz with this course.
Finally, our meal ended with a platter of local cheeses, some from the Yarra Valley as I recall. You get three cheeses, crackers, toasted fruit bread and a quince paste. Our server refilled our wineglasses and my husband and father-in-law had some kind of aperitif. Service is pretty much like what you’d find served in business class on an airplane. Our glasses were rarely empty and our servers were friendly! Of course, there are plenty of non-alcoholic options for non-lushes like ourselves.
What’s also a bonus is that this all-inclusive lunch only cost us 85aud (about $64USD) per person. Considering the quality of food and how many drinks we imbibed, I’d say we hit the jackpot!
We enjoyed our meal and conversation so much that we didn’t pay too much attention to the views outside our window. Every now and then, I pointed out a building or sight for my in-laws as we weaved our way through Melbourne. If you really want to see the sights like the Queen Victoria Market or St. Kilda, I think it’s best done on foot.
|As you can see, we're all very happy at the end of our meal.|
|A family photo from a different perspective.|
If you’re ever in Melbourne, and even if you’re a local, I highly recommend this unique dining experience.