Cutler & CoFebruary 21, 2013
Cutler & Co, Andrew McConnell’s first foothold on Gertrude Street, was the location of our family dinner celebrating my brother’s birthday. McConnell has made quite the impression on the Melbourne dining scene, what with his triumvirate of Cumulus Inc, Cutler and Golden Fields recently strengthened by the addition of the Builders Arms Hotel, and the attached Moon Under Water, possibly my favourite restaurant that I visited last year. The point of listing these accolades? To make the point that when you dine at a McConnell restaurant, you know you’re in good hands, so sit back, relax, and let the good times flow!
Ok, ok, enough of the cloud lights!
… last one, I promise.
Nothing like a smooth G&T to kick off the evening. Tanquery gin, a chopstick, and as much tonic as I please. My philosophy insofar as gin & tonics are concerned is ‘less tonic, more gin!’, and this phrase has served me very well so far.
Dad went for a delicate little dish of peas, broad beans, sunflower seeds and bergamot flowers, all sitting in a fragrant broth. Just beautiful, a little dish of spring. (I should add that we ate at Cutler in September, and I thought I’d lost my photos but then recently managed to find them – hoorah!) Cutler & Co do vegetarian food very, very well. Interesting, flavoursome combinations that any vegetarian should be happy with!
I was browsing through the shelves of Books for Cooks today and found one novel written by an English cook who I didn’t recognise, but whose writing is filled with swear words and has an annoyingly urgent and angry tone that is funny to begin with but gets tiresome very quickly. I didn’t buy the book in the end, but I did come across a rant about people who eat the in-house bread at fancy restaurants.
I know restaurant chefs usually aren’t as good as bakers, I know you should really be saving stomach room for all the other delicious things you’ll be eating later, and I know we shouldn’t jump on the free bread like starving, yet fatter versions of Oliver Twist. But dammit I love bread. Love of bread > intellectual argument about not eating bread.
But I digress; Cutler does their bread as individual sourdough loaves, and they were great!
Mum went for a dish of local line-caught snapper with squid, nettle and oyster sauce. Again, quite a small size for a main dish, but a lovely, light dish all the same.
Dad and I had what I deemed to be the dish of the night; a sweet piece of john dory with shiitake, octopus, seaweed butter and sesame. It doesn’t look very appetising in the photo, but it was fantastic, a perfect mingling of sweet fish, salty sesame and earthy mushrooms. Just brilliant.
I (correctly) ordered the chocolate dessert, having heard others rave about it. Served with a vanilla parfait and salted caramel, it’s the rock star of the dessert menu; very rich and unashamedly awesome.
Mum went for a small refreshing plate of strawberry sorbet, buttermilk snow and sour cherry shortbread. Served in McConnell’s recognisable style, it looked like everything had just been smashed together, belying the careful placement of ever component that I’m sure went on in the kitchen.
The dessert Alex had actually ordered was the earl grey ice-cream, chocolate, pedro ximenez prunes and honey jelly. And I’m sorry Mr Chocolate Ice-Cream Sandwich, but I reckon Earl Grey over here just stole your crown! I was lucky enough to try a mouthful and it was sublime. I couldn’t get over that fantastic, fragrant ice-cream – if McConnell made that stuff available for retail sale, I’d buy it by the litre!
To finish, much like at Moon Under Water, salted caramel chocolates, such a treat.
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