Chef Andrew McConnell helms the kitchen at Cutler & Co., a quietly trendy restaurant on Gertrude Street in the Fitzroy neighborhood of Melbourne, Australia. Gertrude Street is famous for great places to eat, drink, and shop, and the whole vibe of the neighborhood is a bit funky in a good way. One would expect, then, for chef McConnell to present a menu that is a bit off the beaten path as well, and on this front he does not disappoint.
Earl Grey ice cream, chocolate, Pedro Ximénez prunes, and honey
The menu features the best ingredients Australia has to offer, with more than a few touches here and there of exotic and unusual items that even savvy diners may not have indulged in before. Take, for instance, the marron from Western Australia, a type of crayfish that is large and meaty with a pleasant, clean flavor reminiscent of fresh wild shrimp, which McConnell serves with Serrano ham and a whipped cod roe that is easily the best part of the dish; a salad of peas and zucchini, sunflower seeds, onion, and Bergamot, a type of Seville orange with a distinct flavor used to flavor Earl Grey tea; or, aged pigeon, hay-baked with carrot and gingerbread, perfectly cooked and tender. All of these dishes are well executed and feature novel ingredients without making too much of a departure from the familiar, and showcase them in the best way possible. (Photo courtesy of Cutler & Co.)
The modern dining room is calm, quiet, and dark at dinner, encouraging quiet conversation among friends or with that special someone. This would definitely be a great place for a dinner date or special occasion, and the service is welcoming without being obtrusive. If there were cause for complaint, it's that service can be a bit slow — specifically, the gap between courses is just a tad bit too long. Certainly diners would not want to feel rushed, but neither would they want to run out of conversation (or wine, or both) before the arrival of the next course.
Still, anyone visiting Melbourne with just a few days to spend should definitely put Cutler & Co. on their short list of places to eat. The food, the wine pairings, and the atmosphere are just too good to pass up.
Closest tram stop is Brunswick St./Gertrude St. (11, 86, 112).