Butcher 128 is the epitome of a hidden you-wouldn’t-know-unless-you-knew spot. Tucked away in a residential street of Yarraville, the facade blends into its surroundings, looking just like a neighbourhood butcher shop. Peer inside, and the coffee machine at the counter and the seating inside might clue you in that this is not, in fact, a butcher shop.
The initial interior space as you walk in is a casual setup, with off-white walls and ceilings, and a few tables for diners.
Further back though, is a more spacious section with a translucent polycarbonate ceiling and walls that let daylight through. Wooden beams and a large sliding barn door at the end give it a bit of a rustic feel.
The menu was printed on an A4 sheet, with food on one side (the same food menu as was in the front window), and drinks on the other. They also had a separate sheet with seasonal specials, but they didn’t seem that dramatically different from what you could get on the regular menu.
We found the sandwich items the most appealing, given the meat features and the background of it having been a butcher (it’s hard to dissociate it even if it’s just in name). We ordered the Baron and the Meat Hook. You have the option of adding chips, which we did, of course.
The large flat white was a good hot temperature, but a bit too milky for the coffee strength.
Their chai lattes are brewed in house. It was cinnamony and sweet, but didn’t quite have the more complex spice flavours hoped for.
The Meat Hook is described as slow braised pork belly seared until crispy, served with BBQ sauce, sriracha mayo, and asian slaw – only done with a brioche bun. The brioche bun was soft and fluffy. The pork belly was cut into fingerlike slabs. They had the sticky fat layer, but not the crunchy crackling we thought they would. There was a mild heat from the sriracha mayo, and some sweetness from the slaw. It was alright, but the pork belly didn’t really deliver.
The Baron is listed as grilled brisket pastrami on sourdough with swiss cheese, slaw, house mustard sauce, and a side of pickle. This was a Reuben sandwich combination. It had the right flavours of saltiness from the meat, creaminess from the coleslaw, tang from the pickle, and depth from the cheese. There was also the mix of textures, with the crunch from the toasted bread, finer chew from the slaw, tender meat, and soft melted cheese. This was the one we preferred of the two sandwiches, and what we had again on a return visit (although unfortunately the next time, the meat was a little drier, and there was less cheese).
The hot chips were piping hot. They were cooked just right, with a good crispness on the outside, and soft inside. They were well seasoned, and the chilli mayo with them was a good accompaniment, providing a little bit of spice without being overpowering.
Butcher 128 is a good local secret spot. It works well for a casual catch up, with enough room to accommodate larger groups. While not a particularly adventurous menu, it has some good offerings. When done well, The Baron is a winner, and we would definitely say yes to the side of chips.
Price point: $16.90 for just those sandwiches, $21 with fries.
Address: 128 Roberts St, Yarraville
Phone: 03 9318 0975
Website: Butcher 128