Melbourne, meet Butchers Diner: a meat-storage, cafe and takeaway spot at the top end of Bourke Street that rolls through all the hours, days and weeks of the year.
“We’ll never close,” says owner Con Christopoulos, who revealed plans for a rare 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week CBD eatery late last year.
So, what can we expect? This isn’t your run-of-the-mill late-night food joint. If you find yourself in the CBD after a night out, hankering for $5 worth of saturated fat and regret at three o’clock in the morning, keep moving. If it’s a blood-sausage and devilled-egg hamburger you’re after, look no further.
Christopoulos is artful at combining themes and styles, and making it seem natural and effortless in the process. Red and grey tile floors and a long, curving orange bench are “a little play on the American-diner theme,” he says. Walk further and you’ll find rows of premium beef stored in a large, glistening meat cabinet.
To be clear, this isn’t a retail butcher shop. Christopoulos acquired the space initially as a deboning room for his in-house butcher, Simon Poole, who oversees meat across Christopoulos’s other restaurants, which include French Saloon, Neapoli and The European around the corner. The concept evolved from there.
The menu is like the United Nations of comfort food. American-diner dazzlers, such as milk-bun burgers and Coney Island chilli dogs, sit next to charcoal-grilled creole salmon cutlets; Greek pork skewers with crusty bread rolls; and yakitori-style ox tongue, gizzards, livers and duck hearts.
Each day Poole and head chef Steve Lichter select a daily butcher’s cut, which appears in writing on a stainless-steel wall beside the kitchen. This might be something like a 40-day dry-aged Cape Grim club steak from Tasmania, with a marble score of 2+.
Walk upstairs and you’ll find the rustic, slightly regal second-level dining room and function space. It has the feeling of a half-renovated Italian apartment: a high, assorted-timber ceiling overhead; an antique floral stained-glass doorway that leads out onto a small roof-top courtyard; concrete walls slathered in various neutral shades of paint; plus a couple of wonderful artworks by Christopoulos’s daughter, Claudia. An odd place to eat a cheeseburger or crispy-tofu Thai vermicelli salad – sure – but not a bad one.
If you find yourself dropping in between 6am and 11am, the breakfast menu includes an egg burger with Poole’s house bacon, or pretend you’re in New York with a filter coffee and a cinnamon and caramel scroll.
Or you might just opt for a $1.90 dim sim.
“We’re going 24 hours and we’re very affordable,” Christopoulos says. “It’s our little gift to Melbourne.”
Butchers Diner is cash only.
10 Bourke Street, Melbourne
(03) 9639 7324