A deep-green velvet curtain has covered the windows of a heritage-listed former bank in Armadale for the weeks. But on a November morning the curtain was drawn, and the first guests were welcomed into the first Melbourne location for luxury butcher’s shop Victor Churchill.
Fourth-generation butcher Victor Puharich and son Anthony – who also took up the trade – opened the Sydney original in 2009 to critical acclaim. It won an international interior design award for best retail, and the late Anthony Bourdain once called it “the most beautiful butcher shop in the world”.
The pair has spent decades building relationships with Australia’s best meat producers and supplying their goods to top restaurants – including Lake House Daylesford, Anchovy, Bistro Gitan, Lee Ho Fook and Maha in Victoria (Vue de Monde, Brae and Sunda are also previous clients), as well as Bennelong, Quay, Firedoor and Chiswick in Sydney – under the wholesaler banner of Vic’s Premium Quality Meat.
“To eat this level of quality meat, you had to go to those restaurants,” Anthony tells Broadsheet. “When Victor Churchill first opened 12 years ago, it was the first time the general public was able to access that level of premium, high-quality meat.”
And while some of it’s been available in Melbourne through online arm Vic’s Meat Direct since 2020, this is the first time we’re getting the full Victor Churchill experience.
Moving through the green curtain, you’re greeted by three metres of curved glass, behind which butchers put on a show chopping different cuts of beef, chicken, pork and lamb on three wooden blocks.
“It’s the first thing that you see when you walk in, which for me is important. Because as beautiful as this space is, the most important thing for people to remember is this is a butcher shop,” Anthony says. “It’s about displaying the art and craft of butchery, because it’s beautiful to watch.”
Anthony worked with Rod Faucheux of Sydney’s Loopcreative to design the space. It’s blanketed in dark-green Verde marble floors (echoing meat’s fatty marbling), baroque copper arches (a nod to the family’s Croatian heritage) and rich timbers. There are playful touches, too, like brass sausages in place of plain drawer and cabinet handles.
Fresh vegetables, Baker Bleu bread, condiments, cooking oils and pantry staples sit in one small corner, while the opposite wall is lined with fridges containing sauces, savoury pastries, terrines, parfaits, rillettes, quiches and desserts – all made in-house.
Deeper in the shop is where you’ll find the prized meats, sourced from producers across Australia and a select few from overseas. Locally there’s Cobungra Station full-blood Wagyu from the foothills of Mount Hotham, O’Connor Black Angus from Gippsland and free-range poultry from Milawa, as well as Rangers Valley beef from New South Wales.
“The impression is that Victor Churchill is ultra-expensive, but while we sell the highest quality meat, our pricing can be compared to other retailers – there or thereabouts,” Anthony says. “We’re one of the biggest wholesalers in the country, so we’re buying this premium quality meat at a competitive price.”
Deeper still is the charcuterie counter, where cured meats are sliced to order using restored vintage Berkel slicers from the 1930s. It’s mostly stocked with local smallgoods from family businesses such as De Palma Salumi – the Cobungra Station Wagyu bresaola, for example, is made to Victor Churchill’s own recipe. Though there are some exceptions: “At the end of the day, the Spanish make the best jamon iberico and the Italians make the best prosciutto in the world.”
Behind it stands the jewel of Victor Churchill’s crown: the dry-aging room, where 500 kilograms of rib-eyes, T-bones, sirloins and rumps hang from the ceiling in a temperature-controlled cabinet that’s lined with a backlit wall of solid pink Himalayan salt blocks. (Anthony says it does influence the flavour a bit but is mostly aesthetic.)
And at the shop’s very back sits a tiny wine bar, a brand new experience that’s exclusive to Melbourne. Twelve seats are arranged around a horseshoe-shaped bar, which serves around 100 bottles, a tight list of cocktails and dishes of the meaty variety.
It’s classic European fare, with duck-confit croquettes, house-made chicken-liver parfait with foie gras and black truffle, steak tartare with gaufrette crisps, lamb-cutlet tomahawk with chimichurri, Rangers Valley sirloin, and Kurobuta bone-in pork chops.
The chefs cook everything over either wood or charcoal, and serve the exact same meat and produce as you’ll find on the shelves. Some notable exceptions are oysters to start and fresh lobsters from the built-in tank (blink and you’ll miss it).
“This is probably the feature of the story that nobody will expect. Based on Victor Churchill in Sydney, they’ll expect us to do meats and cured meat and charcuterie, but nobody will think there’ll be a 12-seater bar,” Anthony says.
But while it’s the shop’s most out-of-the-ordinary selling point, he hopes it’s still the restaurant-quality meats, decades of expertise and overall experience that attracts people.
“Ultimately, I want people to enjoy, have a bit of fun, ask questions and maybe learn something a bit more about meat that they might not have known before. And to walk out with a beautiful piece of meat or charcuterie.”
Victor Churchill Melbourne
953 High Street, Armadale
(03) 9978 1968
Mon to Fri 9am–6pm
Mon to Sat 12pm–6pm