Andrew McConnell’s Cutler and Co takes Gertrude St to another level

Ice cream sandwich
The dessert that made me a plate licker.

I’m not the only one worrying about the recession. But I’m probably the only one in Cutler & Co thinking about it. The reincarnation of chef Andrew McConnell’s Three, One, Two at the top end of Gertrude St is packed. So packed, McConnell later tells me that it took them by surprise which explains a couple of timing issues that a few of you will have seen on Twitter.
But the whole experience isn’t about minor niggles magnified by a control freak social media misanthrope like myself. It is about the the whole package you get in this sleek, casual (no tablecloths) new venue where every detail down to the exact size of the inlays for the parquet floor and the painted bare brick walls have been thought through.
Not many people knew that you could drop into Three, One, two for just a drink. In Cutler and Co it is obvious. A vast rectangular central bar divides the, um, bar area from the restaurant real. Sofas and tall round tables dot this space. And like the restaurant behind, it is dotted by Fitzroy-types in signature black and more than a few people who wouldn’t look out of place in the cast of Underbelly.

Anchovy pastries

We were steered here on arrival as our table wasn’t quite ready. The service throughout is friendly and professional, catering to our every whim including four or five stabs at finding the right wine for Mrs Tomato who is more sensitive to the effects of ethyl acetate – the nail polish remover smell in wines.
McConnell’s food is understated, with just five options for each course. There is nothing that can be added or subtracted from the plate. I could just sit there and eat his perfectly seasoned $8 salad although I’d be missing out on the snack of anchovy pastries ($9), four long sticks comprising pastry wrapped around a single ortiz anchovy.

Tuna on toast.

Tuna on toast is a thick sleeper of tuna seared with a crisp seared thin bread crust on one side served with disks of octopus so tender they could almost be mistaken for a scallop.

Wood grilled quail.

The mains repeat the success of the starters. Mrs Tomato wins on the argument of who will have the ricotta and truffled pecorino tart, jerusalem artichokes, crisp zucchini flower at $28. I’m left with the suckling pig, confit shallots, sherry vinegar ($39) which is certainly no ordeal although I was tempted to have a cardiac team on standby.

Ricotta and truffled pecorino tart, jerusalem artichokes, crisp zucchini flower

The richness of the pig doesn’t hold me back for dessert with a crowd-pleasing chocolate terrine, fresh cherries & brandy cream ($17).

Suckling pig.

But McConnell slips in a complementary ginger granita, coconut sorbet, fresh lychee ($16) presented with the strangely appealing frog spawn like basil seeds dotting the plate. Chef, of course, was right to bring this subtle, refreshing creamy dessert to my attention.

Ginger granita.

I like the casual vibe combined with the fine reasonably-priced food and will be back, even to an opening of an envelope here.
I’m back some ten days later for the opening of a $4.5 million South Australian Tourism envelope over lunch at Cutler and Co. The delivery of everything is faultless. That includes the idea of launching the marketing campaign here netting curious journalists including the Weekend Australian magazine’s new food supremos Necia Wilden and John Lethlean along for a nibble or three.
I’m there to the bitter end. And I licked the plate after demolishing the chocolate ice cream sandwich, with vanilla parfait and salted caramel.

Cutler & Co on Urbanspoon


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  2. I’m surprised to hear gjh’s experience; I had a very similar one at Cutler but thought it was just bad luck. I ate the duck, which came pink, and about 48 hours later became violently ill with quite severe food poisoning. I didn’t know it straight away, but after tests I was told it was a bug in poorly cooked or stored poultry that comes on up to 5 days after eating. I have no doubt it was the under-cooked duck at Cutler. So all I have to say is over-priced and unhygienic!

  3. Nate, you need to get your facts correct. Not everybody spews from food poisoning. I know I don’t although I’ve have almost had to be hospitalized for it. Also there are many types of bugs and some that make you sick almost immediately rather than within 6-8 hours. Others take longer.
    Yesterday I was with somebody where 11 out of a party of 16 who were hit within a few hours.
    And you know part of the reason that people post on here about this is because the restaurants handle it really badly and aggresively. So if restaurants stopped attacking their customers they would probably get less of this type of bad publicity.

  4. gjh. first of all mate you dont get food poisoning half an hour after leaving the establishment. its a four to six hour onset. and you wouldn’t have just spewed it up. you would have had severe splatterings from both avenues. for some days. thats a fact mate. you weren’t food poisoned. don’t slander a restaurant like that mate its not cool. your wife was probably giving you grief and you had no patience for anything else. you drank wine and got acid gut. spewed up and felt better. don’t be such a glutton.

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  7. sorry christie, but you really under estimate how bad this dining experience was. life’s too short/there are far far too many more deserving and better places to eat for me to give this place a second chance. no amount of sycophantism can gloss over the facts.

  8. I think like many restaurants Cutler took a little while to reach it’s stride.
    It’s a pity GJH won’t go back for a 2nd try, because I think he would be pleasantly surprised!

    I LOVE cutler & I can understand the plate-licking, the ice-cream sandwich is amazing. I have long been a fan of AMc’s food, I am just glad it it easier to park @ cutler than @ 312, that was a nightmare!

  9. JGH, That’s disappointing to hear you had that experience. I did see the whole air kissing friends thing when I was there.

    I’m really surprised by their reaction on the phone. Places like Cutler take food safety really seriously. Hope you are feeling better.

  10. One of the most disappointing dining experiences ever.

    We were left standing at the door for 10 minutes by 3 different floor staff. the 3rd one said “I’ll be with you in a minute” and then went over to air-kiss, hug and chat with an entire table of (presumably) her friends, before eventually returning to seat us.

    Finally got seated (next to another table of staff friends – all very drunk & very loud).

    Appetisers arrived at the same time as entrees. my wife’s food was fine, though unremarkable & greatly overpriced. both my courses arrived cold. bread didn’t arrive at all & had to be requested.

    We asked to move to a different table to try to enjoy the end of our wine (the noise from next-door had become unbearable).

    Minutes after getting home I became violently ill – presumably from the fish/shellfish in my main course.

    The restaurant telephoned my wife the next day for “feedback” and despite having all of the above relayed to them, all they could say was “well, i hope you’ll give us second try”. No apology, no concern. My wife told them we definitely would not be giving them a second chance.

    We love cumulus & were so disappointed by cutler.

    Poor service, poor food, over-priced & massively pretentious. I’m sure it’ll continue to do a roaring trade, packed to the rafters with people who are there simply to be seen.

  11. Regrettably, I never did get to Three, One, Two. Hopefully I can redeem myself with Cutler & Co.

  12. Well what can I say, sitting here in my lounge room in little Hobart town. I sit and remeber how the night unfolded.
    Six young (well under 35) men headed out for my last night as an unmarried man. The meal that chef McConnell put together for us was nothing short of F..king amazing this man can cook!!!!!! with 15 years of my own experince in the restaurant game, it was the best meal ever. Andrew thank you for the best last supper a man could wish for .
    The rib eye steak at 1.2 kg was the best piece of meat ever eaten
    and to finish with choc sandwich, (words can’t explain the tingle in my pants) THIS IS ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S MUST DINE VENUS

  13. more than a few people who wouldn’t look out of place in the cast of Underbelly

    What, you could see their tits?

  14. Oh my God .. ice cream and salted caramel..dies…

  15. I love the desert, and that they serve it in what appears to be a very fancy dog bowl. That just makes licking compulsory!

  16. So you can drop in just for a drink – great!

    But now what I really want to know is: can I drop in just for dessert? 😉

  17. I remember the day they opened, I walked past it and laughed because of the recession and the fact that it was packed…not to mention highly publicized to be open.
    With that, I had also noticed, that unlike other restaurants, they were closed on public holidays, not to risk it.
    Jealous about the tuna on toast and quail though.