Cutler & Co Dining Room & Bar, Fitzroy

Shopfront - Cutler & Co

Behind this unassuming facade lies Melbourne's Best New Restaurant as bestowed by The Age Good Food Guide 2011. Andrew McConnell's posh, yet casual dining experience is full of classic dishes with a smattering of "molecular" techniques.

In fact, it is a little bit of Heston Blumenthal's outrageousness in Melbourne.

Anchovy pastries AUD9

Always a fan of anchovies, I ordered a serve of the Anchovy Pastries to try. They were Ortiz, and they were salty, full of umami and tasted every bit of the sea tempered by a light pastry shell.

Spanner crab, abalone & sweet corn soup AUD22

Andrew McConnell's reputation for serving playful food led us to pick a relatively straightforward item. Not surprisingly, we were quite amused by this delicious soup with a whacky sounding frozen sweet corn powder!

Holding this dish together is a thick rich miso onion soup is hearty but a little on the salty side, but the big oniony flavours were good. It was surprising that the delicate spanner crab wasn't lost in the soup. What the baby abalone slices seemed to lack in sweetness in contrast to the soup, it made up for it by adding a slippery yet bouncy texture. Other textural elements included a mildly crunchy Chinese white cloud-ear-mushroom and little slippery bits of seaweed (sea lettuce?).

Starting out as a pile of frozen sweet corn powder, it soon integrated itself with a sweetness slightly counteracting the savoury onion miso soup.

To top it all off, there was a single lemony sorrel leaf. Julia left it till last and seemed to think that it was a nice palate cleanser. I had it midway through and it seemed to taint the dish with its sourness.

Poached Hapuka, smoked leek, chorizo & romesco AUD42

Sous vide cooked hapuka seemed quite friendly, but we should have known that it wouldn't be chummy with us, given that we prefer our fish as sashimi, or flaky and moist. Sure enough, the translucent flesh was a bit icky, but the smoky romesco and chorizo backed it up with their robust flavours. Perhaps the hapuka would be sweeter if it was cooked through.

Obviously a nod to the Spanish, the trio of smoked leek, as a stand-in for cal├žot, chorizo and romesco, were definitely a good combination of tried and true flavours.

Roast suckling pig, xo spring onion, garlic & parsley root AUD44

The moment I read reviews of the roast suckling pig at Cutler & Co, I knew I had to try it. At AUD44, the price was a bit steep, but it was good. The moist and tender flesh practically melting in your mouth, and the rich seam of almost ethereal fat floods your mouth with porky goodness. Feeling my heart seize up, I decide to cut away most of the luscious fat, and the pork was still very very good, right down to the crisp crackling.

Dolloped on the side was a creamy rich puree that tasted a lot like parsnip puree, but according to the description it is a garlic and parsley root puree. Amazing flavour and worth licking the plate for!

While I'll admit, this suckling pig might not be as good ones in Asia or Spain, this was definitely one of the greats.

Judging by the mixed review, it seems that this dish, depending on the accompaniments, flits between porky heaven, mere mortal, and blasphemous.

Violet ice cream, chocolate ganache, sour cherry & clove meringue AUD18

A certain wave of mauve seems to have spread through the desserts of Melbourne which is why, I chose the Violet Ice Cream dessert. (Not just desserts - by Larissa Dubecki, The Age, August 24, 2010 chefs have incorporated violet elements into their dishes) I even consulted with our waiter and it seems that it is the dessert of the moment, with the Chocolate ice cream sandwich coming a close second.

My first mouthful of the violet ice cream reminded me of cheap air freshener! Thank goodness for the ever-so-light hazelnut chiffon sponge cake to bring me back to the posh dining room. This was followed by the clove meringue which I hesitated over. Sure enough, it was like a dentists anaesthetic paste :P

Luckily then, there was the chocolate ganache on hand to balance the strong clove flavours with a mellow soothing chocolate, even if it did seem like chocolate moussed to me.

Scattered around the plate were also mounds of chocolate "soil" and splodges of sour cherry, which led some bloggers to remark that this dish could well be a deconstructed Black Forest Cake.

Despite the challenging violet and clove elements of this dessert, overall, the playfulness and humour reminded me a bit of the crazy combinations that you see on Heston Blumenthal's outrageous feasts.

Chocolate Ganache

With our coffee and tea came a complimentary Chocolate Ganache, two cinder black blocks of dense, rich chocolate. It was smooth and sublime, and despite all I had eaten that night, I had no trouble polishing them off!

Cutler & Co Dining Room & Bar
(03) 9419 4888
55- 57 Gertrude St
Fitzroy VIC 3065

- Cutler & Co - by Larissa Dubecki, The Age, April 3, 2009
- Cutler & Co - UrbanSpoon
- Cutler & Co- Fitzroy - omnomnomnom / brightcopperkettle - Sunday, September 19, 2010
- Cutler & Co - ala Carte - by Catherine, Petit-Miamx, Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More photos: Cutler & Co Dining Room & Bar, Fitzroy - avlxyz

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