55-57 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy (map)
Open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday, plus lunch on Friday and Sunday
Carla (author of the excellent blog Easy As Vegan Pie) and I had been talking for a while about going out for a nice lavish dinner together and each writing about it afterwards. Hopefully it'll turn into a semi-regular collaborative blog series. We decided on Cutler as our first destination and booked a table, advising them of our dietary requirements well in advance (me: omnivore but for mussels, her: wheat-free vegan). I was confident that they'd cater for an omni just fine, but was looking forward to seeing what they'd serve Carla.
We brought along Dan, editor of Milk Bar Mag, as our innocent bystander. Apart from the omnivore entrees and mains that Dan and I ordered, everything else that was brought to the table was both vegan and wheat-free.
In the interests of transparency I'll point out too at the outset that we were treated very very well that night. While none of us sought special treatment (ugh, the tackiness of those who actually call up restaurants saying that they're food bloggers makes my skin crawl) a number of dishes arrived at our table compliments of the house. Upon review of the receipt some days later we noticed that there was an apparent mix up with one of the bottles of wine we'd ordered, but given all the little extras that came our way we still easily came out on top.
As we downed the Junipero gin and tonics we'd ordered from the charming Lachie, we were brought a trio of complimentary appetisers: seaweed crackers with smoky eggplant mousse and sesame, juicy Manzanilla olives and fried pimientos de Padrón with sea salt. Loved the smoky fluffy eggplant with the crisp crackers in particular.
I'd been sorely tempted to choose the pretty entree Dan decided to order, the smoked and fried duck with morcilla, golden raisin and beetroot ($27)...
...but I loved loved loved the entree I ended up ordering, a delicate arrangement of hand picked spanner crab, corn custard, mushrooms, sweet radish, pickled ginger and nasturtiums ($29), served cold. My new favourite dish at Cutler.
Two small salads arrived unbidden with our mains, one crunchy with shaved cabbage and fennel, and the other with rather meaty heirloom tomatoes, muscatel vinegar, purslane and different kinds of basil.
For main course Dan ordered the pan roasted snapper ($44). It was served with mussels, slivers of cuttlefish, green tomatoes, pickled onions and parsley sauce. And foam (afraid I can't recall what the foam was). Dan confessed to being a little underwhelmed by this one.
I really enjoyed my main though. It consisted of two variations of beef: grain fed strip loin ever so lightly seared then sliced down the middle, and a wonderfully unctuous and rich braised short rib with onion and pureed cauliflower ($46).
I asked our highly professional waitress to bring a vegan dessert for the three of us to share. It was composed of white nectarine, white peach, blackberries, frozen dehydrated raspberries and verjuice granita ($18). Delicious, but I confess to wishing I'd ordered whichever dessert includes the Cutler & Co violet ice cream, cos it is goddamned glorious.
Oh and some complimentary fig drizzled with thyme caramel (pictured here half devoured by Carla) and fudge arrived with our coffees.
Now click to read Carla's far more entertaining version of events and see what she was served for entree and main (I think the entree she had is usually served with raw Hervey Bay scallops). Carla is also running one of her vegan cooking classes in a few weeks, so make a booking if you know what's good for you...
And get yourselves down to Cutler! Head chef Jean-Paul Twomey and his kitchen are at the top of their game.