Mikkayla reviews: Dexter — ‘glorious, slow-cooked, meaty bliss’
456 High St, Preston
“They have a meat doughnut.”
This was all it took to convince me that I needed to check out a particular restaurant in Preston. No other information was required.
There are a few things you need to know about Dexter before you go: the first thing is that a booking is definitely required. Sorry Prestonians – but I’m blowing the lid on the best-kept local secret so that the rest of Melbourne can share in on the glorious, slow-cooked, meaty bliss you’ve been enjoying since 2015.
The second thing you need to know is that there is minimal signage out front – you’ll get no bold neon name sign, but rather a simple black and white box with an ‘X’ emblazoned in the centre. The shopfront isn’t massive either – it’s a grey, nondescript building. But you’ll get a whiff of the amazing aromas emanating from the kitchen well before you reach the front door.
The final tip – go with loose pants and an empty stomach. You’re gonna want (and need) both to enjoy the full Dexter experience.
Inside, Dexter is a simple, warehouse-style, split room with exposed beams and portable tables that move easily to cater for larger groups. The vibe is palpable – it is a truth universally acknowledged, that well-fed people are the happiest of people – and every group in there is indeed smiling, laughing and cheers-ing.
Start with a drink while you peruse the menu – there are 6 different, Victorian-produced beers available on tap, and another selection in cans, plus a Brookvale Union alcoholic ginger beer, and a Wayward hard seltzer (my choice!). Most of the wines are also Victorian-made and there is a fun selection of cocktails to choose from including a Blueberry GnT, Choc Old Fashioned and Midori Sour Splice.
It’s hard not to over-order. We start with the famous doughnut – soft, sweet, buns with a golden crust that shimmers under the light with its sugar and paprika dusting – and stuffed generously inside is smoked, burnt-ends brisket jam ($6). Enjoy these piping hot balls of bliss with or without their signature capsicum hot sauce – they’re fantastic either way.
This trendy meatery will not necessarily be a deliberate choice for vegetarians – but they do have a handful of offerings that even the most hardened of carnivores will be sneaking servings of. The sweet’n’sour cauliflower takes bite size florets and coats them in a sticky, zesty, caramelised glaze that is both crispy and crunchy and will have your taste buds singing ($16).
A king-brown mushroom burger $16) is a hearty, meat-like alternative to their oozing pulled-pork extravaganza on sweet, buttery brioche buns ($15), and the charred cabbage with kombu butter sauce ($16) may not necessarily get the Heart Foundation’s tick, but it’s certainly a fun way to get in one of your five-a-day!
The meat plates are impressive enough with the mound of pull-apart tender short ribs of grain merchant beef ($38) – slow cooked to perfection and then caramelised over hot coals – or their 18-hour-smoked beef brisket that is later smothered in bone marrow-spiked beef demi glace ($36) – but their mash is also so ridiculously good you’ll say au revoir to boring Paris mash for the rest of your life. Buttery red potato mash, covered in bone marrow and then topped with their rich, beef demi glace… it is the ultimate comfort food. A side of bread-and-butter pickles, slaw and fried bread finishes the meal.
The staff, whilst friendly and attentive, are insistent that diners stick to their allotted seating times – and seeing how packed the restaurant was on a Tuesday night, it was apparent why. This place really doesn’t need any extra attention, but it’s well worth the early reservation and a trip from the other side of the city.
Dexter – you had me at doughnut.
Dexter is open Tuesday to Friday 4pm – 9pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12pm.