For those who love suckling pig, I believe I have found the best tasting roast suckling pig on Earth. Imagine a perfect rectangular cut, a glossy thin layer of crackling that is consistently crisp right to the edge and just the perfect amount of fat in between a juicy slow-cooked tile of pork. The roast suckling pig at this Gertrude Street eatery is as good as it gets.
But it's not the only thing you should come to Cutler & Co for. Andrew McConnell has really worked his magic on a phenomenal menu which pairs lots of love and dedication with some superb cooking techniques and the best produce in an understated casual type of way.
In an inviting industrial set up, this bistro is non-pretentious and all about the delicious.
It is as popular for drinks as it is for lunch and dinner, with highlights in the cocktail menu including the colada ($18) which consists of Cachaca, flamed pineapple and toasted coconut and the after five ($18), a vivid blend of Canadian Club with Antica Formula, apricot and kaffir. I have the sartre ($18), a mix of Cariel vanilla vodka with ginger, apple and chilli. It is fruity and refreshing but unfortunately not hot at all.
The structure of the menu is ingenious. There's the a la carte section of appetisers, entree, main and desserts, a section dedicated to things for sharing, and another section called 'additional' which has two options - a selection of entrees (giving you the first half of the degustation) or the menu selection, an eight course degustation. I love the flexibility of being able to taste most of the starters while getting a full serve of a main course of our choice. It is perfect for those who like me, don't like full blown degustations which go on for far too many hours.
In addition to the selection of appetisers ($39 per person), my boyfriend Zen and I also opt for a couple of Moonlight Flat Oysters each. Moonlight Flat Oysters are cultivated in the tidal estuary of the river near the town of Batesman Bay. Various sites in the estuary are carefully selected for oyster cultivation, throughout their stages of growth. This determines their unique flavour, texture and size. We try the Clair de Lune Bouton ($4 each) which has an exquisite flavour, the Moonlight en Surface ($4 each) which is finished closer to the surface under a flotation process, giving it a softer and cleaner taste and The Rusty Wire ($4.50 each), which is whatever oyster is ready for harvest that day, and is bolder in flavour.
First course in the selection of entrees is cured kingfish served with horseradish snow, pickled cucumber, shaved calamari and dill oil. The icy cold snow is sensational and adds a level of fresh vibrancy to this dish.
Next we have a flavoursome amuse bouche; a combination of octopus, chorizo, aioli, and smoked paprika served on crisp bread and topped with pickled garlic on one end, and pickled ginger on the other. It is a simple dish executed really well.
Following that is the pressed quail terrine, foie gras cigar, orange and pistachio. The slab of terrine is delicious but the crunchy and robust foie gras cigar and accompanying radicchio and witlof are what stands out.
At the same time, the next course is served. It is a heirloom tomato salad with marinated vegetables, fromage blanc and tarragon. The saltiness of the olive and almond paste in this dish helps accentuate the natural flavours of the heirloom tomatoes and is balanced well with basil and creamy fromage blanc.
For the main course, Zen has the pan roast John Dory ($39) which is crisp-skinned and and stunningly aromatic. It is served with a small pan of deliciously braised surf clams, chorizo and cuttlefish.
Meanwhile, I'm sitting here hoping this slab of roast suckling pig ($43) never ends. Thankfully the serving size is rather generous and I'm able to prolong the experience of eating the best roast pork I've ever had. On the side, I've got a small pot of cubed parsley root, turnip and plum that heightens the rustic essence of this dish.
Dessert is a tough choice between the crowd-pleasing chocolate ice cream sandwich with vanilla parfait and salted caramel ($17) and the poached figs with bay leaf, rice milk custard, strawberries and rose ($17). I end up with the latter; the figs and strawberries are luscious and sweet and the rose adds a delicate tone to the overall taste. It is simply divine!
I highly recommend Cutler & Co for any occasion - a casual meal or a celebratory dinner, it won't disappoint! And if you're a suckling pig lover... From one foodie to another, I advise you to get yourself there. Now.
Cutler & Co.
55 - 57 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, VIC
Phone: (03) 9419 4888