18 Aug Cutler & Co, Fitzroy
Cutler & Co, Andrew McConnell’s flagship restaurant, first opened in 2009 and has been converted from an old metal works factory. The restaurant actually had a more casual atmosphere than I expected, with bar seating, a lounge area on the side, and more tables, including banquette seating, towards the back. We had come to try their $130pp 6 course degustation menu, so ordering was quick and easy.
The bread on offer tonight were the sliced seeded loaf and salted sourdough, accompanied by light and fluffy house-made butter and a beetroot relish, which was wonderful. The sourdough took a bit of effort to break into at first, but it was my preferred bread of the two.
We began with an amuse bouche of salt cod soup with spring onion oil. Thick, smooth and velvety, it was full of flavour and almost chowder-like. Delicious.
The first course was the bonito escabeche, fromage blanc and bottarga. Crispy shards were arranged around the pieces of bonito in layers, with pieces of greenery (maybe dill) peeking out, making the plate look like a landscape photograph. The method of preparing escabeche meant we could appreciate the delightful, firm but smooth texture of the bonito, and its subtle flavour was interspersed with slightly acidic bites from the finely diced, pickled carrots, refreshing avocado puree, fromage blanc and spices. This was my favourite dish of the night.
Handpicked spanner crab with decadently buttery segments of leek, rye crisps and caviar soon followed. The nettle soup was poured out for us at the table. One thing that everyone commented on was how salty the nettle soup was. When mixed through, the cream helped to temper some of the soup’s saltiness and it was rather good, but there wasn’t quite enough of it to balance the flavours adequately.
Next up was the turbot with brown butter, pickled onion, and black leek. The fish was cooked perfectly and I liked the charred flavour and textural contrast provided by the leeks, though again, the sauce was a bit too salty and it overpowered the turbot.
We transitioned from the seafood courses to the Manjimup truffle and parmesan tart with dandelion, celeriac and walnut salad. There was enough restraint with the parmesan to allow the truffle be the star of the dish, and it was light enough to be able to enjoy without being weighed down with richness.
Our final savoury course was the braised short rib with smoked oyster and pepper sauce, nettle puree, and braised shallots. The beef was incredibly tender and moreish. My knife cut through it with little effort. The beef itself had a slightly sweet flavour, and the oyster sauce and nettle puree lent many punchy flavours to each mouthful.
The mandarin soda and mango sorbet pre-dessert was beautiful. Refreshing, light and delicate, it was a great palate cleanser.
Our evening finished with the dessert. It was a whipped ricotta cake, with soft chocolate, sour cream and clementine. There were so many textures and layers in the dessert, which were only fully revealed when cut into. There was a soft chocolate layer, chocolate shavings and small chocolately balls that provided little pops of crunch. It was a light, and not too rich desert.
There weren’t any petit fours offered at the end of the dinner, though we were quite full by this point as the servings were quite substantial. I did enjoy the ambiance here and service was attentive. There were a few hits and misses tonight and we were expecting a little more from a two-hatted restaurant, but thankfully there were just enough hits to satisfy.
Cutler & Co
55-57 Gertrude St
Fitzroy, VIC, 3065
(03) 9419 4888