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10 venues with top-notch nosh (hint: leave your belt at home)

Way back when, wedding food had a bad rap. Now? Mass-produced banquet meals and stale canapés just don’t cut the mustard. 
With more couples putting a cracking menu at the top of their wedding wish-list, you’re more likely to find venues serving up foraged greens rather than fruitcake, degustation plates instead of dry chicken, and impressive feats of gastronomy fitting of a #foodstagram. Oh yeah, wedding food has gone gourmet. To keep up with couples' changing palates, it's not just traditional wedding venues that have overhauled their menus: fine-dining restaurants have flung open their doors, causing foodie couples to flock with the promise of award-winning morsels and top-shelf produce.

If you're keen for your wedding meal to taste as incredible as you'll look, you're going to need a venue that delivers just that. And you could hit up Google and guidebooks, but we've already done the leg work for you. We've pulled together 10 venues that boast everything from hatted chefs and seasonally-changing menus to innovative dishes you'll want to recreate at home. This is the stuff of a gourmet-lover's dream. 

For seaside sharing plates...

In a sandstone mansion overlooking Sydney Harbour is Burnt Orange. The Signals Room is kitted out with unique décor from the venue’s own boutique, and has the kind of charm perfect for an intimate rustic reception, with banquet or cocktail reception packages on offer. The three-course banquet menu will see your guests graze on two canapés upon arrival; main course is a selection of share plates (a so-hot-right-now foodie trend) and dessert is alternate drop. For a reception that’s all about mingling, the cocktail menu is for you – the venue even offers entrée, main and dessert-inspired canapés to give it the feel of a traditional seated affair. So what mouth-watering fare can you expect on the big day? Oh, you know, just dishes like charred octopus with confit potato, dry-aged sirloin with chimichurri sauce, steamed pork and shallot dumplings, and pumpkin arancini. Don’t worry, our stomachs are grumbling too. 

For all things farm-fresh and foraged...

Google the definition of ‘Biota’ and you’ll discover three things: it refers to the animals and plants of a particular region; it's a noun; and it also happens to be the perfect name for James Viles’ Bowral restaurant. The produce used by the award-winning Biota kitchen is sourced from local farmers and growers by foraging, and is grown in the on-site glasshouse, which is home to more than 40 varieties of seed. Have a cocktail reception and you’ll be treated to interactive stations like produce from the restaurant kitchen, a local suckling pig, a duck station and a raw bar (don’t worry sweet-tooths, there’s a dessert station too). A seated reception may include dishes like house-cured trout and wood sorrel, roast spatchcock and speck, and meyer lemon curd and yoghurt sorbet. As an added bonus, the on-site accommodation means that when you’re full to bursting, your bed is only a short walk (or roll) away. 

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For a cosy space with cuisine to boot...

You might have already guessed what this Tasmanian eatery is all about – if not, take another gander at its name. Ethos Eat Drink lives in the bones of a historic 1820s building and is hidden at the end of a covered laneway. You can even check out exactly where their producers are based here, because that's part of Ethos' food game – having diners know, and understand, the origins of their meals. The food for your reception will be created around seasonal Tasmanian produce, and they also offer a range of wedding package extras such as bomboniere, an Ethos-designed wedding cake, pre-dinner canapés and additional courses (you know, for when you're feeling especially peckish). Couples who opt for a seated reception will feast on four courses –two shared entrées, one share main and either one dessert or wedding cake – while a cocktail reception includes eight canapés and grazing table. 

For a country setting with city tastes...

The Dining Room at Royal Mail Hotel on the edge of the Victorian Grampians comes with all the credentials gourmet-loving couples could want from a wedding venue: a bunch of chef hats from The Age Good Food Guide, an organic kitchen garden harvested daily, orchards, olive groves and a cellar boasting a wine collection curated over 40 years. Receptions at Royal Mail Hotel are tailored to each couple, ranging from formal degustation menus to laid-back barbecues and gourmet picnics. The historic Mt Sturgeon Homestead is the hotel’s 70-acre property (it’s only three kilometres away) and is a go-to for stunning scenery, hosting elegant cocktail receptions or simply holing up in the estate with your bridal party in the days before your nuptials. 

For spectacular seafood...

Helming the kitchen at Regatta Rose Bay is Claudio Morales of Ash Street Cellar and Ivy’s poolside Uccello fame, who honed his mean knife skills working for The Gordon Ramsay Group and Shane Osborn. For your wedding here, you and your guests will dine on a modern Australian menu with an emphasis on seasonal and sustainable produce. Expect dishes like hand-cut pappardelle with lamb belly ragu, seared ocean trout with apple eggplant, and pistachio brulée tart. The canapé menu includes bite-sized morsels like seared scallop and cauliflower, ricotta gnocchi and Moreton Bay bugs, and chicken and chorizo empanadas. Our suggestion?
A dress code that warns guests against body-hugging dresses and snug trousers. 

For produce harvested that day you eat it...

If we dropped ‘South Australia’ and ‘food and wine’ in the same sentence, what pops to mind? Chances are it’s the Barossa Valley, and that’s exactly where you’ll find Hentley Farm, a sprawling estate with a cellar door and restaurant that’s sure to have even the fussiest of foodies smiling. The restaurant kitchen has a strong focus using produce grown on the 150-acre property, from foraging wild ingredients to harvesting fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in garden beds and orchards. There are two beverage packages – both include Hentley Farm wines – and three menu packages. The venue can accommodate smaller affairs in the restored 1840s barn, or larger celebrations in a marquee. 

For famed fare...

The chefs at Lake House in Daylesford, led by Alla Wolf-Tasker, have more gongs up the sleeves of their chef whites than you could poke a julienned carrot at. Here, you have the choice of not one but four menus: a cocktail party, country banquet, laid-back luncheon or a lavish dinner (we know, we want all four too). Each of the menus boast produce from local growers and suppliers, which are used to create the Lake House’s lauded take on modern Australian cuisine. If that wasn’t enough, there are various ceremony and reception spaces that can cater to whatever style of wedding you’re after. For couples who fancy themselves as true oneophiles, The Cellar Room is your go-to space for an intimate and swanky reception. A hand-crafted oak table sits smack-bang in the room and can seat up to 14 people. 

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For a bit of everything...

With its impressive culinary credentials, Urbane in Brisbane ticks the boxes of every gourmet’s wedding wish-list. The restaurant is part of The Urbane Group, a larger venue with five distinct spaces that are clustered around the kitchen, headed up by executive chef Alejandro Cancino. Tossing up between one cuisine or another for your reception isn’t a problem at Urbane, because the fare here is all about evolution – using the techniques the chef likes most, regardless of their origin. Dishes are also made with seasonal produce, house-grown herbs and even honey from the rooftop bee hive. Have a cocktail reception and you’ll be treated to a choice of top-notch canapés – seared scallops and pickled radish, barbecue lamb cutlets, mini wagyu burgers, mandarin parfait – while a seated reception will have your guests indulging in courses like hot-smoked barramundi, braised pork shoulder with jus, and chocolate and cognac marquis.  

For a culinary institution...

Vasse Felix isn't your traditional wedding venue, and they only do a small number of weddings each year. But for diehard foodies, it's a degustation dream. The restaurant offers a degustation menu for wedding receptions, and courses are based on à la carte fare from the kitchen headed up by executive chef Aaron Carr. Each dish is a take on modern Australian cuisine and is created from local and seasonal produce, specially chosen to complement the wines from the estate's vineyard. This means you won't know exactly what you'll be dining on until you chat to the Vasse Felix team, but what you can expect is a meal that knocks your guests' socks off... and has them talking for months after. 

For a first-of-its-kind restaurant...

This is where postcard-worthy views and fare that makes you want to go back for seconds (and thirds) meet. It also happens to be the first winery restaurant on the Mornington Peninsula, so there’s that too. Max’s Restaurant at Red Hill Estate boast a seasonally changing menu with a focus on sustainable local produce, so you can expect dishes like mussels from Flinders, berries from Main Ridge and honey from Moorooduc. Max's has three seated wedding packages on offer, all including a chef's selection of canapés, freshly baked bread and a two- or three-course menu. Couples wanting a standing reception are looked after too, with morning and evening cocktail packages available – expect items like beef wellington, pork belly and juniper rillette, parmesan gnocchi, and caramelised pear tarts. 

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