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Scorcher reviews Butchers Diner on Bourke street

ROSS AND JOHN

Vegetarians, look away now.

Hidden at the top end of Bourke Street, tucked behind a nondescript glass door, with only a red “takeaway” sign to indicate its presence, you’ll find Butchers Diner, Melbourne’s newest monastery of meat, a nostalgia-inducing fiefdom of flesh.

And for those who don’t like to restrict their meat consumption to daylight hours, you’ll be pleased to learn it’s open 24/7. So if you find yourself in the city, at a loose end at 4am, half full of squirt, and get a hankering for a steak sanga, or perhaps some grilled gizzards or livers, you’re in luck!

But if the mention of offal hasn’t got you fizzing with at the bung, fear not. There is plenty more to Butchers Diner than off-cuts.

A quick scroll down the large retro metal menu that adorns the sidewall (daily specials are handwritten brown butcher’s paper – grass fed baby loin chop with spiced mango chutney; wallaby burger on the day I went) and you’ll spy some wonderful dishes from yesteryear.

Get on this: blood sausage with devilled egg, pickle, iceberg lettuce and mayo in a brioche bun. Tell me that doesn’t sound marvellous? Well it was. It was glorious.

The homemade pork and beef dim sims are steaming balls of lumpy goodness. These sweaty bundles of joy could easily be considered credible cross-town rivals to the famed South Melbourne dimmy. I could have easily loaded up on more, but with many more tempting dishes on offer I needed to pace myself.

The delightfully affordable and wide-ranging diner menu is like a round-the-world boarding pass to a carnivore’s carnival, with nods to Australia, America, England and Japan. From golden Japanese fried chicken with mollifying daicon pickle and crispy skin duck with pickled Chinese vegetables (Thursday special) to traditional crowd-pleasers like slow-roasted lamb shoulder with potato, veg and gravy (Sunday special) and face-spasmly luscious sticky date pudding with whipped cream and butterscotch sauce, there’s plenty to sink your fangs into.

Throw in drippingly-succulent, plump cheeseburgers; loaded Coney Island chilli dogs; and herb-kissed grilled pork skewers and there’s something here to keep even the most jaded foodie happy (yes, there’s even a few vegetarian options fighting among the meaty melee).

Which brings me around to the offal. For loose change ($7.50) you can get two ‘yakitori-style’ skewers of duck hearts, gizzards, ox tongue and livers. Now, my mum cooked some weird things when I was growing up but she never served us kids hearts and livers. So at 33 years old I thought it was high time I skewered my animal-organ cherry. With a sprinkle of lemon, I tackled the duck hearts, which were chewy and dense yet not too unpleasant. Mighty morsels of meatiness. I finished both skewers, so eat your heart out! I can’t say the same for the livers. With the consistency of a moussey car wash sponge, the livers weren’t really my thing. But I gave myself a fist bump for trying them.

But whether you’re a fan of entrails or not, there’s plenty of compelling options to keep you up all night.

ROSS AND JOHN
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