Masterchef Australia viewers are no strangers to Andrew McConnell and local foodies would be familiar with his restaurants in Melbourne. Despite the hype around him and his restaurants, I have not really considered his restaurants, after reading mixed reviews and seeing the menu prices online – it all sounded a little risky!
But then it happened that Ade finally made it down to Melbourne, and Ms TY and I were due to have dinner with her. Since Ms TY and I only recently dined at Epocha, I was kind of running out of ideas on where to bring the crowd.
And then I thought, oh well, let’s just give one of Melbourne’s top chefs a go!
So let’s see how that went…
We got an 8pm reservation and for a weekday night, the restaurant was really busy.
It took us quite awhile to get a waiter’s attention. But when someone finally attended to us, the service was still polite and attentive, despite the hustle and bustle around them.
We decided to share plates, mainly because Ms TY and I are used to doing that (haha we’ve our habits now) but I guess it was a good way to sample more dishes too.
So to start off, we got 2 entrees to share.
The duck breast was tender and I liked the pairing of it with the prune, but I much preferred the flounder – nice, clean flavours with the asparagus and butter.
We then moved on to 3 mains.
I thought the colours on this dish were really vibrant and appealing. Surprisingly, they used the chicken breast and it turned out tender. There was also sufficient jus to go round to make sure this dish wasn’t dry.
The lamb was fine but once again, I thought the fish was the best dish – the fish was juicy and the flavours were simple and clean. I actually enjoyed the Asian twist in the dish as you can taste a slight tang of soy sauce in the broth and I liked it with the shiitake.
I would have to say the portions are quite small for the prices that we were paying. Anyway, we decided to move on to dessert, and see if the sweets could fill us up.
Again, it was slightly challenging getting the attention of a waiter – by then, it was already nearing 10pm but the restaurant was showing no signs of slowing down!
From memory, this was supposed to be coconut sticky rice. The consensus round the table was that this was a little too sweet and some of us couldn’t finish it – very unlike the balanced flavours of the coconut dessert we got at Saint Crispin!
I’ve read some good reviews of the now-defunct Three One Two and I was excited to see that they had kept one of the old desserts on the menu…
At first glance, the presentation wasn’t impressive. Overall, it was a very sweet dessert and I didn’t find any balance in the flavours – even the salted caramel didn’t give it a salty edge. I would have to say that I was a little disappointed in this dish!
We were curious to find out what ‘soft chocolate’ is and it turned out to be a chocolate mousse with a firmer texture. The main pairing of the dish was the chocolate and orange and I would have to say they went together beautifully. I very much enjoyed this dessert over the previous one!
From the dishes we had that night, it seems that McConnell’s dishes tend to focus on simple flavours and presentations, with no over-the-top combination of ingredients. I also found that the fish dishes were executed really well.
Overall, the meal was all right but I was expecting something a little more special, given the long list of accolades that McConnell and his restaurants have received. So for the mixture of hits and misses we had during our dinner, I felt that the price tag wasn’t worth it, and as such, I would be reluctant to make Cutler & Co. a top pick.
Fortunately, Ade and my other dining companions are not fussy eaters and they didn’t complain about the food (phew!). I guess the food and dining experience were pretty much secondary to us – nothing can quite spoil your night when an old friend makes her way all the way down (under) to spend an evening with you!