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Tregan Borg reviews Dexter, 256 High Street Preston

MML

Dexter 256 High Street, Preston

I love meat and unashamedly have always had a fascination with butchery and Dexter in Preston fulfilled both of these loves.

I was in two minds about reviewing just another American BBQ joint.  I feel that recently the Melbourne food scene has been flooded with American BBQ and hasn’t quite delivered  Dexter shouldn’t be confused with just another American BBQ joint, because it’s definitely not.  The label of ‘Meatery’ better fits the bill.

I was very (very) pleasantly surprised when I ate at Dexter. Conceptually it seems simple – meat ands buns – but it’s really more than just that.

Yes they employ some traditional in-house smoking methods, but the food is more about utilising tasty cuts of meat, and cooking them in a way that allows that particular cut of meat to shine.

They are careful about the meat they choose, choosing trusted wholesalers, the provide animals that are farmed well, and treated well.

Majority of the meat product is bought in whole, and butchered on site. 

This may be more time consuming but it saves money, and allows them to utilise bits and bobs that would generally have been thrown straight into the bin. It’s simple food done well, and that’s essentially the secret ingredient for me.

I am always a big fan of somewhere that can do simple food really well, and let the ingredients speak for themselves which is easy when you make the conscious choice of starting with an already quality product. 

I wish more restaurants adopted this ethos, let the food sing and the rest will come naturally.

The starters list is small but fun; hot meat doughnuts ($4.50 for one or $12 for 3) made with pulled brisket. 

These were definitely different and I didn’t quite expect the sugar coating however it strangely worked, it’s worth giving it a go just once.  The KFC (Kentucky Fried Cauliflower $9) was my favourite starter, cauliflower coated in a breaded spice mix and deep fried, crunchy and delicious.

All the buns are brioche, and the meat is slow cooked.  Being an offal girl I couldn’t resist the ‘pigs head’ ($13) pickled pineapple, pickles and hot sauce. 

It’s not as scary as it seems, they take cuts of the pig’s head such as the jowl (cheeks) slow cook them, press, and deep fry which results in an absolutely delicious and decadent meat bun.

The main meat dishes vary, with choices such as pulled pork ($19), caramel short rib ($26) and other tasty cuts such as skirt steak and rump cap. 

All meat dishes come with a side of mash, pickles and a marrow trencher.  Rump cap is my favourite beef cut so it was my obvious choice, but it was a close competitor to the skirt which comes in as my second favourite cut. 

Rump cap is full of flavour and texture, it was served a perfect medium rare and the thick fat cap was rendered down perfectly and so full of flavour.  The whole dish work really well, with the rich high marble score wagyu creamy mash and the vinegary pickle to cut through all of the richness.

The pricing is super reasonable, all meat buns are between $12 – $13, meat mains range from $19 – $28, a set menu option for $38 pp and kids combo at $11.

Just like the food the grog is also sourced from a local and sustainable source.  Beer on tap is Hawkers a local micro brewery from just down the road in reservoir.  You can grab a tecate can for $5, or a cocktail for around $10-$13. 

If you’re feeling adventurous go for a ‘pickle-back’ 30ml pickle juice 30ml makers mark bourbon, like I said if your feeling adventurous.

A new and kinda cool restaurant in an almost, but surely soon to be gentrified Preston, had to be full of hipsters right? Wrong, I was pleasantly surprised by the mix of diners, which was another tick in my box.

Service was attentive, informative and genuinely caring without being over the top which is a bit of a balancing act. 

And despite my my lack of reservation (I automatically assumed it was no bookings, which Melbourne has set the bar for) we were politely seated after a short 10 minute wait, but don’t take the risk I recommend making a booking.

Lastly if your a local, they do take-away, which I’m kind of glad I’m not as this could have easily become a dangerous addiction.

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