From the ground level on Swanston Street, you’ll see an unassuming black steel door with the words ‘Stairway to Meat-Heaven’ plastered across it. It’s easy to miss, but once you notice it — and the glowing staircase behind it — you’ll no doubt feel the allure of the Dexter team’s new untraditional meat-focused restaurant, Cheek. To get there, climb the stairs to the dining room, which can comfortably cater up to 70 bums on seats. It’s the first floor of what will eventually be a three-level venue — with a bar called Peaches and a rooftop called Cream slated to open soon. But, for now, it’s just Cheek — a narrow restaurant with an industrial aesthetic and strong black and white contrasts with softening pops of light blue. Like Dexter in Preston, it’s a bit of a no-rules barbecue joint. The menu here, though, leans heavier on Asian influences, taking inspiration from Korean, Chinese and Japanese cuisines. You’ll find Japanese dried powders, miso ranch, sweet and sour flavours of plum, yuzu and smoked hoisin throughout the menu. A carefully curated wine list accompanies the food, and more inventive cocktails are added to Dexter’s repertoire, such as the Cheek Fizz with gin, pecan, honey, lemon and fizz.
Words and images: Kate Shanasy.
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