Update: We attended this venue in October 2017 and some details may have altered since then.
Twenty-four hours. Twenty-four freaking hours, seven days a week, is how long Con Christopoulos is keeping his new CBD venture open for. It’s a compelling reason to grab dinner late or have a steak for breakfast. Please welcome Butchers Diner to the growing ranks of venues keeping the Melbourne CBD up all night.
Simon Poole, who has been a longstanding meat-obsessed member of the European Group, breaking down the animals and churning out all things cured and aged for venues such as the City Wine Shop, the European, Kirk’s and French Saloon, is now heading up Butchers Diner.
While the menu is meat-centric, it is not as carnivorous as it may first appear. You’ll clap eyes on a cabinet taking up the entire back wall filled with hanging meats when you walk in. Sadly, it’s stock for all the other restaurants, but the offering in the diner is compelling in its own right. There is a definite European lean on the menu, but there are touches of Japan, America and China. Burgers starting from $9.50, made up of cuts of the day sit alongside lightly battered, sesame-spiked Japanese fried chicken ($12) comprised of marinated dark meat, Kewpie mayo and piquant pickled daikon. There are skewers of offal ($7.50 for 2) cooked over Japanese white charcoal and come unapologetically chewy, bouncy or irony (and depending on the cut, served medium); and you can get a soft, spiced house-made blood sausage and curried egg bap ($10). Plus there’s the daily one-plate special that could be anything from a Carolina style barbecue pork with 'slaw and cornbread or crispy skin confit duck with pickled vegetables and a sweet chilli jam. Each of these items stand up on their own, but we’d advise coming with a few friends and ordering around the world.
But vegetarian gems punctuate the meat-fest. There’s a classic grilled cheese toastie ($6), falafel on a daily salad ($10), wood fired seasonal vegetables ($8), a crispy tofu noodle salad ($10) and an American-style vegan hash you can pimp up with additional sides. If none of these take your fancy, they’ve just installed a 24-hour, all-vegan vending machine with items all under $10 stocked up with coconut yogurt, a selection of salads, super food studded energy bars, cold pressed juices and raw chocolate. Bet you didn’t see that coming when you heard about this all night diner.
Ordering is all done at the counter and is cash only (if you’ve left the house without hitting an ATM, they’ve conveniently installed one by the front door for you). Food arrives on stainless steel or plastic. Eating with your hands is encouraged, so if you are looking for a place to have a formal lunch meeting, this ain’t it. All offerings come take away, all day, every day, so, listen up, office workers. Booze is carefully selected craft beer tinnies ($8.50-$12.50) or premium half-bottle wines ($18-$60) to cater for all tastes. Prices are more thoughtful than smashable, so it’s probably not where you’d go to pound back a few after a gig if it’s rent week. If you’re after a pick me up, coffee is $2.50 a serve for filter.
This may be one of Melbourne’s first 24-hour food temples, but just like regular restaurants, it gets jam packed at peak eating hours. And while the name may suggest that it’s a carnivore’s club, there is something for everyone and pricing is as egalitarian as it comes.