Ok ... thanks to the largesse of PO, who organised our evening via text message, we scored a table at Cutler & Co on a Saturday night at very short notice! It pays to be in the know, or at least to know the right people. And having an indirect line to Andrew McConnell didn't hurt and well and trully pays its own culinary dividends.
On arrival and after being seated, we were met with 2 complimentary glasses of Champagne - french, no less - Larmandier Bernier · Blanc de blancs - the most fancy bubble available by the glass. We were also served a plate of seaweed crackers topped with eggplant mousse - the perfect starter to get the juices going.
Earlier that day we had gone through the menu with a fine-toothed comb and decided to eschew the degustation menu for a number of items from the a la carte list. This way we spent a little less (marginally - this is not a cheap place to dine) with about the same amount of food and with drinks included.
Cutler is a great space with a few interesting little nooks if you're lucky enough to score them. And the Fitzory postcode doesn't hurt either. Acoustically, all those surrounding distressed bare walls play havoc with conversation, but there's still a welcoming feel, and it doesn't feel cramped even though they do pack 'em in.
After settling on our menu options, we chose to have the cutest little sourdough buns topped with salt. These were delicious. (The bread servings seemed to be free flowing at our table - not sure if this applied to all and sundry, or just to our Andrew-sanctioned table).
We were hoping to try the Peppers de Padron as an appetizer but they had just sold the last portion. So we decided to go for the Fois Gras Cigars (one each) and the Pickled Octopus with aoili and paprika instead.
The Fois Gras cigars came in their own pre-loved cigar box - cute touch. These were amazing. Fois Gras is a difficult thing to come by ethically ... like sharks fin ... so I'm not going to enter into that discussion here.
For me, Fois Gras is the only type of liver I will consume, partly because it doesn't taste like liver at all, but like a very rich savoury custard. And, I must admit, partly because of the french tag and its inherent exclusivity.
Also, I love wafer rolls and love letters, so the intrinsic shape and texture of the cigar as a carriage of flavours is one that appeals to me very much.
Needless to say, we enjoyed these immensely.
Our pickled squid was served in slivers full of paprika goodness alongside dollops of the aioli. Perfect.
To accompany our appetisers, M had a glass of 2009 Josmeyer 'Le Fromenteau' · Pinot Gris from Alsace. I had a glass of 2010 Fighting Gully Road 'Aquila' · Chardonnay/Viognier/Petit Manseng. Both of these whites were a revelation and developed in complexity with the food.
We decided to share an entree of Hand Picked spanner crab and abalone served in a sesame flavoured broth. A slightly different version of spanner crab than the one on their online menu. The broth came in its own science lab beaker which was then poured over the pieces of crab, abalone and mushroom at the table. This was heavenly. Light and rich at the same time, a dish that I would gladly repeat when (yes when not if) we come back here again.
Then, thanks once again to PO's connection, we were served not only another box of Fois Gras cigars, but another dish from the appetizers list, which was the Smoked Trout on rye with avruga (a caviar substitute made from herring) ... ok readers ... this is an absolute must if you come here. It was fantastic. FANTASTIC!! (just in case you didn't get it the first time).
M had a repeat of my Chardonnay/Viognier/Petit Manseng blend, and I chose the Sicilian 2008 Benanti Etna Bianco 'Bianco di Caselle' · Carricante. I wasn't entirely sure of my choice, so perhaps approach this one with caution. It may or may not suit your palate.
For mains, we decided to opt for the Pork option on the "To Share" list - Roast Golden Plains Suckling pig for two, braised endive and cauliflower. This was served with an endive, witlof and apple salad which help to cut the richness of the meat.
The pork was super tender and the crackling just the right amount of crispy without being too hard. We saw the Angus Rib Eye (the other "to share" option on the menu) being served at another table and it was massive! Definitely to share amongst 4 or more. So we were glad of our choice because the calvacade of dishes so far were already starting to hurt!!
We switched to reds at this point. M had the 2008 Vecchie Terre di Montefili Chianti Classico · Sangiovese from Tuscany, and I went for a 2006 Vadio Tinto · Baga from Portugal. Both reasonable wines, but the whites were excelling tonight.
We rounded off our evening by sharing the dessert - Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwhich, vanilla parfait and salted caramel. If it has parfair and salted caramel then I'm like "where do I sign"!! This was not a dissappointment by ANY means. Now for that word again - AMAzing!!
Love your work PO, and love your work too M!! We made it! So Thank you Radiohead scalpers! We wouldn't perhaps have dined here if it wasn't for you.
PS - Maybe because we looked like we were having so much fun but the our neighbouring tables wanted to join in the action as well. Fun.