I was really excited about my long anticipated dinner at Cutler & Co last Friday night. I have been to Cumulus in the city for breakfast and really enjoyed the way Andrew McConnell innovated there. So with all the hype attached to his newish venture on Gertrude St, I was keen to see what the fuss was about.
Hot tip shared with me before I went was that the degustation was not a ‘must do’. At $130 a head, my bank balance was pretty happy to hear I wasn’t that keen. After hightailing it from work to the tram to meet the 6pm early sitting deadline, I was a bit flustered by the time I got there. My dining buddy, T, arrived shortly after and we got straight into a dissection of the wine list. After two false starts (no reasonably priced Chardonnay and out of our Tasmanian Pinot choice), we opted for the Delta Vineyard Hatters Hill 2007 Pinot Noir from Marlborough, NZ. It was choice bro.
T was famished and inhaled two sourdough rolls (I’m being polite, he actually had four), he could not stop raving about them – the saltiness, the chewiness, the butter. Out came a little amuse bouche of tapioca and parmesan ribbons. Imagine prawn crackers that just tasted of parmesan, very tasty and definitely got the palate ready.
We decided to go with the two small entrée and shared salad option, followed by a main. Neither of us were interested in dessert so going hard on the entrées instead made more sense. The first entrée was cubes of raw kingfish, with small pearls of onion puree and blackcurrant puree, nasturtium leaves, crème fraiche and roe. The flavours worked beautifully together but the kingfish chunks didn’t feel delicate enough for the flavours. Lovely, but I wouldn’t break my neck to eat it again.
Second entrée was an assiette of duck – crispy skinned duck with a sweet gingery glaze, sliced pink duck and a fois gras cigar. The alliterative fois gras cigar was a crunchy, creamy little bomb in my mouth, but the fois gras was blended with crème fraiche which resulted in a less punchy experience. The crispy duck was a stand out for me, however, and still makes my mouth water. The assiette was served with smoked fennel, slow cooked onions and crispy noodles. To share between us, we were presented with an interesting display of carrots, the tips of about ten roots, chopped and upturned, served with goats cheese and something unidentifiable but adding crunch. I have nothing remarkable to say about this dish, except that it was the most boring of the night and kept being served to the tables around us. There were carrots everywhere!
The main was a heart-clogging slab of suckling pig, served with a little side pot of pearl barley and apple mash. The succulence of the pork belly meat was divine and the crackle of the skin was perfect. The pearl barley I could liken to a mushroom risotto in flavour and texture and created a wintery feel to the dish. I really enjoyed it, but the slab was huge and I did struggle to eat such a rich dish. I left most of my pearl barley which was a shame.
So all in all it was a lovely dinner, with an outstanding wine, lovely company, impeccable service and a beautiful interior. But once the bill came, it all felt just a little lacking. I knew how much I would be hit for, but for that price I was expecting much more of a ‘blow away’ experience.
Cutler & Co
55-57 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
(03) 9419 4888