55-57 Gertrude Street Fitzroy, Victoria 3065
|Opening hours||Sun noon-late; Tue-Sun 6pm-late|
|Features||Bar, Accepts bookings, Degustation, Wheelchair access, Vegetarian friendly, Gluten-free options, Private dining, Licensed, Events|
|Prices||Expensive (mains over $40)|
|Chef||Andrew McConnell, Casey McDonald, Allan Eccles,|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Cash, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9419 4888|
WHERE AND WHAT
Andrew McConnell's flagship restaurant, Cutler & Co, opened two years ago to instant acclaim and predictable crowds. The heat hasn't died down on this new approach to fine dining and it's always a necessity to book ahead but things get more leisurely on Sundays with a set-menu lunch showcasing produce from local suppliers.
WHERE TO SIT
The expansive former metalwork factory has bar seating at the front of the room facing on to Gertrude Street, with some of the best bar snacks in Melbourne (try the anchovy pastries). The dining room proper has the usual mix of banquette and designer-chair seating. It's divided into two, with a recessed area up a step at the back with real tree ferns that give a rare Jurassic Park feel to proceedings.
WHEN TO GO
Sunday lunch kicks off at noon and you can also do the lunch thing as an a la carte offering on Friday; dinner is served Tuesday-Sunday.
It would be easy to burn money here on the wine list, which takes in a broad reach of old and new-world wines but there's an acceptable entry level - a $60 bottle of Tasmanian Josef Chromy non-vintage sparkling.
One of the great things about Cutler & Co is its lack of pretension and that goes double at Sunday lunch, when the normal a la carte menu is put on hiatus for a kind of 50:50 approach at a set price of $70 a head. Tables are given a bunch of starters to share before diners are asked to individually choose mains and dessert from a short list. On a recent visit, the communal offerings included a Spanish mackerel and mussel escabeche with almond cream; a salad of heirloom carrots with smoky eggplant puree and shanklish; and salami with a whomping chilli and fennel seed kick. Mains included poached chicken with brussels sprouts, bread sauce, smoked bacon and chestnut, while the excellent dry aged Rangers Valley striploin for two, served on the bone with anchovies, garlic and spring onion and a ridiculously buttery wedge of thinly sliced potatoes, costs an additional $50. The Heidi tilsit cheese with pear chutney is a civilised way to end things but the dessert course also included old-fashioned steamed quince and suet pudding with rosemary ice-cream.
Sunday lunch is a family affair so there will probably be children and possibly even - gasp - babies. But tables aren't so crowded that they'll be sitting in your lap. You might not even notice them. Evenings are populated by artistic-looking people discussing their latest project.
Because Sunday lunch is better than Sunday school.
Cutler & Co
55-57 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, phone 9419 4888