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Cutler & Co


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I posted this recently in the "Dinner at Three One Two" thread, but it's been suggested that Cutler and Co get its own thread now that the former is defunct. Therefore:

We had the same problem we've had at Three, One, Two, which was too much wine. Cutler and Co doesn't offer a degustation (or at least didn't that night), so we ordered appetisers, entrees, mains and a dessert. We decided to have either a single bottle of wine, or two glasses each, matched to entree and main. But somehow, after talking to the sommelier, we ended up accidentally ordering two whole bottles. So ya, great night, but I don't often get quite that drunk. (Speaking of which, I apologise if this post is a bit incoherent; sheol found me a bottle of Clonakilla Viognier, so I've just had a bit over half of it with a lovely tuna steak over garlic mash and gai laan.) The wines we had were a 2007 Niepoort "Redoma" Brancho from Portugal (gently sweet with a lovely character) and a 2005 An Negra Vit AN/2 from Spain (soft, salty-savoury with a bit of a gentle kick in there somewhere).

That said, let's get on to the good bits. What can I say but: OMG. AMcC's food is as good as ever. The space is quite lovely and very comfortable. A bit larger and less intimate than Three, One, Two but not as casual as Cumulus Inc. The loos are unisex, which I quite like, but the locks don't work, which might make some nervous.

Aperitifs - I asked for a dry Tanqueray martini, and they only had Tanq 10, which I hadn't tried, so I gave it a shot. It was very fruity and tangy - I'd heard that T10 was as subtle as Bombay Sapphire, so was pleasantly surprised. It might have been the vermouth, except that it didn't taste like vermouth, plus I did order dry. Anyway, sheol, not usually fond of gin, really liked it, so we're going to get a bottle. Sheol, being a rum fan, ordered a glass of JM rhum, not having tried agricole before. That was also quite fruity and spicy, without being too sweet, which was nice for a rum.

For appetisers we ordered a dish of fried-and-salted Pimientos de Padrón, and some pastry-wrapped anchovies. According to the menu, "Los pimientos de Padrón, uns pican e outros non", which means "Padrón pimientos, some are hot and some are not". This was absolutely the case, as some were simply deliciously capsicum-y whilst others set up a slow burn on the palate. They had a wonderful texture of salty skin, soft flesh and little seeds (I love that!), and a touch of that lovely vegetable bitterness often found in eg. eggplant and green capsicum. This worked better for me than for sheol, who is still adjusting to bitter flavours. But the anchovy pastries more than made up for that. He ordered them for something different since he's not usually much of an anchovy fan, but he was blown away by them. I found them quite lovely but preferred the chillies; for sheol it was the opposite. I'm going to try the pimiento thing at home; I think it'd go really well with beer.

Entrees - first, rabbit terrine, and medallions of perhaps loin or similar, with some jamon iberico and apple-lentil salad. This had the perfect flavour balance you expect from AMcC, and sets the theme of his cooking style, which often presents a meat-cooked-two-ways with veg-and-sauce accompaniments chosen for their flavour-and-texture accentuation of the meat. Our other choice was the quail with foie gras parfait and figs. This was the best quail I've had, perfect in both texture and flavour, and just typing this is making me want more. The parfait was different from the one served at Cumulus; stickier and less sweet, but capturing more of the essence of the liver.

Mains:

Rare-roasted and slow-braised lamb, with fennel - chosen by sheol, but a revelation to me. The roasted component melted in the mouth with browned edges and a soft pink middle that soaked up the various flavours on the plate. The slow-cooked part was full of slow-cooked flavour as well a completely contrasting texture.

The baby pork was presented as a chunk of crispy-skinned belly and some other part I was too drunk to identify, but both delicious.

I was too drunk and too full to attempt dessert, but sheol ordered the chocolate ice cream sandwich with vanilla parfait and salted caramel. I had a small taste and can report that this was incredibly good. I love a sweet that's not too sweet, and it had a great balance of flavours.

This was yet another of those meals that are punctuated by sublime moments of don't-talk-to-me-right-now-I'm-busy-tasting-this. I would go there again in a heartbeat. On the other hand, Cumulus is just as good and slightly closer...

sheol's thoughts:

The staff were attentive, not too much although one had a slight mask of pretension as I saw how he was around the other staff when relaxed.  I prefer wait staff to just be themselves, maybe a little reserved at most.  Our initial orders of a martini and neat rum did take some time to come to the table, probably around 10 mins which was too long.  We expected some inconsistencies with service based on previous experiences at Cumulus and 312.

The room is large and very well appointed.  You can get small glimpses of activity in the kitchen, a nice touch and mid-point between cumulus and 312.  Noise levels towards the end of the meal (around 9pm) were really starting to climb though.  That and the close proximity of tables started diminishing the intimacy of the night.

Our sommelier was great to talk to, I can't remember her name unfortunately (thankfully she didn't introduce herself, she knew someone at the table next to us).  She selected the two wines described by my S.O. earlier and we loved the both of them.  There was a bit of a communication mix-up as we wanted two glasses of wines each, not bottles but I saw what was happening halfway through the conversation and went with it.  I was glad I did.

Appetiser

Anchovy pastries:

Absolutely delicious, moreish with some mouthfuls and quite powerful for others. 

8.5/10

Pimentos de padron:

True to the description at the bottom of the menu "most taste sweet and mild, though some are particularly hot and spicy".  I ended up taste-testing each one after eating a pimientos that blew my palatte away with the heat for a few minutes.  Very simple flavours, something that appeals more to my significant other than I.  I found myself putting salt on them to increase the appeal. 

6.5/10

Entree

Rabbit terrine, lentil & apple salad:

Very nice, fresh and flavoursome.

8/10

Wood grilled quail, foie gras parfait & fresh figs:

For me the best dish of the night, absolute perfection.  Very tender quail, the parfait and figs and from memory there were also pomegranate seeds and raddiccio. These combined with to make a dish that was far greater than the sum of it's parts.    I could have died happy at the end of that dish, although I would have died happier if I was given a second plate of it. 

10/10 - I can't think of how this could have been better.

Roast & braised lamb, confit fennel:

Very clean lamb flavours.  I enjoyed it but it didn't raise any passions in me.

7.5/10

Suckling pig, confit shallots, caramelised sherry vinegar:

Texturally this dish was perfection.  A technical masterpiece and again, very, very well executed.  I enjoyed this more than the lamb and in most places I would have been more than happy with this but after the quail I wanted that extra something that made me wonder if Andrew is the second coming of Christ.

8/10

Chocolate ice cream sandwich, vanilla parfait & salted caramel:

Arrived at the table in the opposite configuration to what I expected:  The (dark and and so very beautiful) chocolate ice cream was on top of the sandwich, with the vanilla parfait and salted caramel making up the sandwich itself.  One of his magical dishes where you wonder how he does it, just a whisker below the perfection of the quail.

9.5/10

Overall:

I'd give the night an 8.5/10.  Cutler & Co is a curious mixture of cumulus and 312 and I'm still puzzled about it.  I could have a more simple meal at cumulus for half the price and the same noise level.  At 312 I could have had a slightly more refined meal with less noise (on a weeknight at least) for the same price.  We will be back again though, I don't know if I've made my mind up.

There Will Be Bloody Marys
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I went by Cutler And Co last week to have a peek. It looks like they might still be doing some work on the interior. Unfortunately, they didn't have a menu out the front - hopefully they'll have one up soon.

There was a short piece in Epicure the other week where another company called "Cutler And Co" has received countless phone calls asking for reservations at the restaurant.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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  • 3 weeks later...

It's a little simpler than Three, One, Two's menu in that it doesn't offer a degustation, but just half a dozen or so each of appetiser, entree, main and dessert options. I gather that there's a bar menu, but I didn't see it, so I don't know how much it has in common with the restaurant menu.

I can't recall seeing anything on the menu that I particularly recognised from Three, One, Two. But as soon as you see/taste a dish, you recognise the style :smile:

Regarding the renovations, the restaurant takes up numbers 55-57 Gertrude St, but there was one of those big yellow proposed-renovation notices on #53 when we were there, which mentioned something about opening for breakfast, so we assumed it was part of the restaurant (plus, from inside, the kitchen appeared to be located in the back part of #53. I don't know if they also own #51 of the 4-house terrace.

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I have now booked for dinner at Cutler And Co. next month. I can't wait.

The website says that they're open for lunch on Friday. I think I'll have to give it a try, courtesy of Kevin Rudd's handout.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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  • 4 weeks later...

We went to Cutler And Co. last night, and the food was fabulous. In terms of the dishes, we had pretty much the same things as Amarantha and Sheol had, the only difference is that I had a main that featured roasted and slow cooked duck, but no rabbit terrine or lamb. The food was magnificent and the service was friendly, fun, and professional.

The only downside were the noise levels in the restaurant. For food this good, I'd rather a quieter environment. It got to the stage where my better half and I couldn't hear each other speak.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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  • 3 weeks later...

We went back a second time a few weeks ago. I meant to do another review, but have been too busy to even look at the fora - I should be writing an assignment on bond portfolio evaluation at this very moment :raz:

We had the same appetisers as last time, a garlic? soup and lyonnaise salad for entrees, the above-mentioned duck dish and a vegetable tart for mains, and the ice-cream sandwich and something else for desserts. Still just as impressed as ever. I don't recall it being particularly noisy, but I can see how it could get that way.

I think I've figured out wherein lies the genius of Andrew McConnell. Everyone knows that the key to great cooking is to keep it simple. Combine a few delicious and complementary flavours into a whole greater than the sum of its parts. A.McC. does that thing you're not supposed to do, where he puts about a dozen different flavours on the plate - but he makes it work! Whether you've got a bit of everything on your fork at once, or just the slow-cooked duck and some pickled apple, or the rare-cooked duck and some lentils and some jus, every possible combination is a new revelation. It's like several delicious dishes combined into one, and yet the dish as a whole still has perfect coherence.

It would take me months to create one decent dish with that kind of complexity in it, assuming I succeeded at all. Hence the constant murmurs of "how does he do it" from our table whenever we're in one of his places.

*re-reads before posting*

OK, I am a total fangirl :wub: But I am unapologetic. I realise I haven't tried eg Tetsuya's or El Bulli etc, but I can't imagine food getting much better without me falling over in a blissful trance and being unable to finish it :wink:

There Will Be Bloody Marys
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  • 2 months later...

I'm in town, and I wanna go check out this place.

Anyone up for spin?

Dan? Amarantha?

Monday onwards all good.

Tuesday??

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Ooo, now there's a tempting offer :) I'm busy Friday night, and I think they're booked out a few Saturdays in advance, but any other day is good for me. My husband says he probably can't make it, so it's likely just me. Lemme know if it's Tuesday, or if that changes.

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  • 1 month later...

According to a report on twitter, Cutler And Co. has won the Age Good Food Guide Restaurant of the Year, and Andrew McConnell has won Chef of the Year.

Congratulations and well done.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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