Little Hunter is the new subterranean lair of wood-fired meats and taxidermy roosters at the expensive tie shop end of Little Collins Street
It's all about the beast here. Even the bread comes with a condiment they call ‘chicken butter’ - rendered bird fat whipped with butter, and crunchy shards of crackling. Game on, arteries.
It may not surprise you that executive chef Gavin Baker is American. But he comes to Little Hunter via a two-year stint as sous chef at science-meets-magic UK restaurant the Fat Duck. While the menu has a US steakhouse bent this is no honky tonk saloon. Sure, Bobby Bare’s ‘That’s How I Got to Memphis’ gets a play, and there’s a coffee-infused steak inspired by prairie cowboys’ love of grilling their meat with coffee grounds to add a little flavour.
But Baker’s version is filet mignon, marinated in roasted coffee grounds with Worcester sauce, coriander seed and garlic, sous vide and finished in the smoker over orange and olive wood. We’re not often sold on the texturally soft results of sous vide meat, but the gentle cooking with the marinade leaves a really clear signature of the coffee and smoke, without any char getting in the way.
Grits are blitzed with parsley butter so the corn porridge (made with ground alkalised corn comes out all grassy fresh if a little less textured than we'd like. You're better off with wedges of roasted yams capped with an acid-bright lick of gremolata (everyone’s favourite condiment of garlic, parsely and lemon zest) to cut through some of those lipids.
Little Hunter is a great option for business types who want their steak in a space with a little lick and polish. The sprawling basement is a buffed concrete warren of booths, share tables and murals of mournful cows all soft-lit by heavy industrial lights.
Stick to the bar if you don't want to go all out. They've got craft beers on tap like the malty brown ale from the Mornington brewery and they make a Manhattan as stiff as a board.
The puffy pork scratchings are a little chewy, but satiny chicken liver pate on crisp-bread covered with a fine sheet of raw flattened eye fillet and chive vinaigrette is as good as meat-on-meat snacking gets.
Service sticks to the company line. It’s friendly and efficient, though advice seems to more scripted than from personal experience on our visit.
If your heart's up to the challenge and your vegetarian pals don't mind being limited to a few sides, Little Hunter will show y'all a good time.