Free yourself! There’s no need to eat a soggy sandwich at your desk this week.

As part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, loads of restaurants all around Melbourne and regional Victoria are putting on Restaurant Express – a 2 course lunch, glass of Victorian wine and tea/coffee for $35. As the name suggests, you’ll be in and out within 60-90 minutes, so it’s the long lunch without the long timeframe. Plus a chance to try some fancier restaurants which may normally be outside the range of a lunch budget.

A and I took the shiny lift which deposited us into the one-hat restaurant of Sofitel Melbourne, No. 35.  Being on level 35 in the Paris end of Collins Street and enclosed completely by wall to ceiling glass, all tables look over either the city or the bay. Our window-side table gave us a grey drizzly view of the high towers of Exhibition Street and A remarked that it was reminiscent of the skyscraper views of Hong Kong.

Being an express menu, there is basically no choice, so I’m not sure how diners with dietary requirements might be catered for. Entree was a flat disc of shredded suckling pig fried with a crispy shell then placed on a dab of mustard and prettily garnished with julienned apples and radishes.

The main was a crispy skinned salmon fillet with crushed potatoes and a parsley and spring onion dressing. A simple fail-safe crowd pleaser – nothing too exciting or fancy but guaranteed to satisfy most palates.

Dessert was the most unusual offering – coconut tapioca with a neat quenelle of cucumber mouse and a fat swirl of mango mouse, sprinkled with a sugary crunchiness and tarted up with some lime. A declared it a winner and the best course.

The service was the kind of faultless attentiveness that you’d expect from a high-end hotel restaurant. Most notable was the fact that my lemonade was served in a miniature carafe! Cute.

You’ve got until 14 March for a chance to partake in Restaurant Express – I’m starting to compile a wishlist for the next few days…