Express Lunches in Melbourne CBD

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Quinoa salad and corn puree
from Pastuso

Before I moved to Melbourne I’d never heard of Express Lunches. I hadn’t worked in the CBD before so I was just used to grabbing meals in food courts. But once I heard of the idea, and then found out what it was, and discovered that so many places make Express Lunches, I’ve been hooked. Having an Express Lunch may not be something you do every day, but it gives you that fancy dining experience without having to pay the fancy dining price.

Below I’ve listed some of the Express Lunches I’ve tried in the Melbourne CBD. I’m sure there are plenty of Express Lunches in other cities, so look out for them if you aren’t in or visiting Melbourne. If you are in Melbourne, check these ones out below. I have tasted them all and enjoyed them all for different reasons.

And don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for some really great ideas you can replicate at home!

The Express Lunches

Harry’s Bar at the Stamford Hotel
Little Collins St
$15 for one of their magnificent seven burgers, fries and drink. 
Hubby and I have been to Harry’s Bar at the Stamford Hotel three times for lunch and really enjoyed the burgers each time. I believe they change the burger menu sometimes because I am sure the first time I went I got a chicken satay burger whereas this time the burgers were all named after countries (hence the flags in the picture). I had the English fish burger and my hubby had the Greek lamb burger. You can get a glass of wine or a soft drink included in the meal too. 
$25 for Ceviche entree and seafood rice or beef main.

Pastuso is hidden away in one of Melbourne’s famous lanes, but its got a great decor and feel to the place once you step through the wooden doors that contrasts to the graffitied lane way outside. Pastuso serves Peruvian food and inside it’s got brightly coloured walls, a bar and an open kitchen so you can watch the chef’s as you wait for your lunch.

Fried spiced chicken and potato
from Pastuso

They have the express lunch where you can “Fly to Peru in your lunchbreak” as well as having an a la carte menu (which means you can order from the menu instead of getting the set lunch option). I tried the Quinoa salad which had the most delicious corn puree under it (so yum!) and a fried chicken and potato dish which had the nicest spice mix on the fried chicken.

My husband had the express meal and loved every minute of it. Beware if you’re not a raw fish person though as ceviche is raw fish cooked in acids such as lemon or lime juice and they have a large ceviche section to the menu.

The ceviche entree from Pastuso – NZ snapper in citrus juices
Exhibition St
$27.50 for a Bend Over Box 

Gazi is one of the restuarants run by George Columbaris (one of the Masterchef judges). He is from a Greek background and therefore his restaurant is Greek as well. When I went to Gazi last November I was actually lucky enough to catch sight of George. I would love to have said hi but he seemed quite busy and had a chat to the table next to us where a woman was celebrating her birthday.

The food in the Bend Over Box is a mix of dips and meat and vegetables and you even get something sweet for dessert. I ordered off the menu and regretted my choice as soon as I saw the Bend Over Box my husband had ordered. It looked so delicious and he got a two course meal in one. Check the menu before you go because the box combinations might have changed since I was there last.

Pei Modern
Collins Place, Collins St
‘Eat Pei Quick’ menu – $39 for 2 courses with coffee or $49 for 3 courses with coffee.
I have to admit that I haven’t had the Eat Pei Quick menu myself, but I have walked past this restaurant every day for almost two years and I can tell you the food looks spectacular. I am going to try the Eat Pei Quick Menu in the next month or two because it looks totally scrumptious. My boss has had lunch here several times and she loves the food, so it must be good. 
The Eat Pei Quick menu includes entrees, mains and desserts and this restaurant actually gives you coffee or tea included in the price – brilliant! They do the Eat Pei Quick meal in a 2 course or 3 course version so you can choose how hungry you are and whether you want to try the sweets or not. They offer this menu not only for lunch but as a pre theatre meal as well (there are a couple of theatres nearby). 
If you’re looking for other places to eat in Melbourne then check out my other posts on Melbourne: The City of Food, and Arintji at Federation Square. Or if you’re interested in the Yarra Valley check out The Wonder of the Left Turn: Adventures at the Chocolaterie and the upcoming Healesville, Victoria post. 

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