Your inside word on the menu from chef Angel Fernandez

Botswana Butchery opens the doors to its new Victorian home next week, serving up the very best Australian and New Zealand produce in opulent surrounds on the corner of Flinders Lane and Exhibition Street.

It’s quite the project, seating as many as 300 guests for long lunches, drinks and dinner across the three levels of dining rooms, bars and outdoor terraces that overlook Flinders Lane. The luxurious interior design of Botswana Butchery will be in a similar style to its New Zealand original but with a Melbourne feel executed in sunken dining rooms, lush booths, long, marble-topped bars and a large feature staircase

The kitchen team, led by Angel Fernandez, a former Rockpool chef whose last port of call was Dante in New York City, presents a menu driven by a wood-fired grill, complemented by a raw and cured bar serving high quality seafood and artisanal charcuterie.

The heart of the food offer is the Butcher’s Block selection, and if you’re really serious about your meat you’ll want to ask for the Little Black Book, your guide to exclusive and rare cuts.

Here’s Fernandez on his choice cuts across the whole venue.

How about a drink?
Having just returned from Europe, I’m still craving a well-crafted Negroni at the end of the day. Luckily, we have just that on the drinks menu, made with Victorian ingredients. Our all-Victorian Negroni is made from Melbourne Gin Company gin (by Andrew Marks from Gembrook Hill), Marionette bitter curaçao (Marionette’s fruit comes from Mildura) and Maidenii sweet vermouth (by Gilles Lapalus and Shaun Byrne in Heathcote). You can’t get much more Victorian Negroni than that. Pair it with marinated olives, ricotta and focaccia for the perfect pre-dinner snack.

I’m here for a good time not a long time.
How about a smoked brisket sandwich with raclette and zucchini pickles? The beef is from CopperTree Farms and our turmeric-tinged pickles are inspired by Zuni Café in San Francisco. I’d suggest paring it with the 2020 Minim Wines grenache from the Pyrenees. Otherwise, you could opt for mussels with jamon Ibérico, rouille and pommes frites with a glass of 2020 Levantine Hill Glen Garvald viognier from the Yarra Valley.

The bar menu is heavily influenced by Mediterranean culture, making it perfect for anyone looking for a quick bite with their drinks. There’s plenty of dining and bar areas at Botswana Butchery for good times long and short.

Got anything light and fresh?
I’d go for the persimmon salad with buffalo milk-curds, pine nuts and basil. It’s delicious and perfect for those looking for a lighter option. We make the buffalo milk curds in-house and the milk was a suggestion from That’s Amore Cheese, who supply it. We’re also using buffalo milk to create one of our ice-creams on the dessert menu.

What if I like tasty food but don’t eat animals?
Let’s be honest, Botswana Butchery is probably not the first choice for vegans but we do have an impressive vegan option: salt-baked celeriac. The celeriac is encased in salt dough and baked and served with freekeh, pomegranate, tahini and a soft-herb salad. Then dough is cracked open and served at the table. It’s quite a theatrical dish.

Which dish best captures the Botswana Butchery vibe?
The most popular dish in NZ is undoubtedly the five-hour slow-roasted lamb shoulder, and we’ll be heroing this on our Butcher’s Block menu. The meat is so tender we serve it with a spoon. Add on side dishes of duck-fat potatoes and charred banana peppers with whipped ricotta, fried garlic and soft herbs and you just can’t wait to come back for more.

Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
You have to try the 1.6-kilo Rangers Valley wagyu tomahawk. This impressive cut of steak is served on the bone and is big enough to feed four or six guests with sides. It’s juicy, tender and flavoursome and is quite the showstopper.

For those who like things a little more exclusive, I suggest asking for the Little Black Book. It’s a selection of rare cuts and exclusive producers.

And to close?
The vanilla soufflé with long-cooked quince and almond anglaise. Let’s face it, everyone loves a soufflé. Ours is served in a copper pot with all the love and respect a soufflé deserves.

Botswana Butchery opens 11am-10pm, Tues-Sat from 24 May at Collins Place, cnr Flinders La & Exhibition St, Melbourne,, @botswanabutcherymelbourne