Friday, December 23, 2011

Cutler & Co IV

December 8-20, 2011
For a while now Michael and I have had a habit of sharing a degustation for our birthdays. Six to ten (or more!) courses is a lot of fun and a lot to digest: while my mind always looks forward to dessert, my stomach's capacity to follow through varies. This year I hatched a plan to please both my sweet tooth and my unreliable appetite - for my birthday I'd eat my way through Cutler & Co's dessert menu, just one dish at a time, over the course of a couple of weeks. As we'd already discovered, they're willing to accommodate a late-arriving guest without a reservation at their front bar on a quiet night.

At $18 apiece, these five plates total less than most vegetarian degustations around town. The crisp, not-at-all-syrupy dessert wine that Michael tipsily ordered on our first visit was a fitting substitute for the matched wines he'd usually request.

Let me show you what sugary delights Cutler & Co are serving this summer...

strawberries, black olive caramel, olive oil ice cream & pine nuts

Silky ice creams, firm fresh fruit, sour jelly, salty candied pine nuts, vanilla puddles and toffee shards - there's a lot here to love even when one hates olives. In fact, I would have been game for a shade more brinyness! This pretty thing is made extra-lovable by the fact that it can be served vegan and gluten-free on request.

white chocolate mousse, beetroot ice cream, orange jelly and sherbet

The second dessert crept up on me. Its two-toned disc of mousse and jelly was nice, then better with the slightly earthy beetroot ice cream. The powders were puzzling but a welcome contrast in texture. Then I pulled in the sherbet and kapow! Everything made sense.

fromage blanc ice cream, chocolate ganache, pink grapefruit
& licorice meringue

This plate was a confusing mish-mash. The fromage blanc ice cream was finer than any cheesecake I've tasted, and the ganache just heavenly. I liked that the grapefruit sauce was too tart on its own yet just right once mixed with those sweeter components. Ultimately, though, there was too much powder for me and too much ganache for Michael. And where was the licorice? I couldn't taste it at all.

mango parfait, passionfruit curd, coconut, pineapple & pain d'epices

The mango parfait cubes are wrapped in slivers of fresh pineapple, like a high-end Splice! While this amused me no end, I was more pleased still by the mysterious treasures under the ginger crumbs, catching bursts of coconut and pandan.

chocolate ice cream sandwich, vanilla parfait & salted caramel

This is undoubtedly the richest and most well-known of the desserts, a fruit-free zone. While I liked the ice cream sandwich on our first encounter, this time I got it. I suspect that I was served a little more salted caramel, and that made all the difference.

It was probably a bit self-indulgent to draw out my birthday like that, but I relished every minute of it. This dessert menu warrants all the attention and appetite I could give it, and the staff made every visit a pleasure. The other unexpected pleasure was sharing the occasion with a number of my friends - their dropping by for a single course was no budget-buster, and it definitely doubled the fun.

You can read about our previous visits: one, two, three.

Cutler & Co
55-57 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
9419 4888
desserts $18

Accessibility: Cutler & Co has a flat entry and generous space between tables. The front bar often contains high benches and chairs, but there are some standard-height booth seats to the side. There's full table service.


  1. This sounds like a great idea for your birthday! I was fortunate to attend a business lunch at Cutler and Co. a few years ago (when I was vegetarian) and was wowed by their violet ice-cream. I've never been an ice-cream lover but found it was a really inspiring dessert. The other thing I found interesting was that myself and another vego were totally impressed with our entree and main but the omnivores were very blase about their meals.

  2. Looks delicious! thanks i really enjoyed that you shared this. I'm keen to try the last one, although in this hot weather the mango parfait sounds good. Is the shape of the ice-creams scopes just a result of large dessert spoons you reckon?

  3. This sounds like the most perfect birthday celebration ever... and far less gluttonous than when I did 11 desserts in one night in Melbourne. Happy birthday, Cindy!

  4. great creative approach to a birthday meal - nice to see a write up of all desserts - why can't they have a nice little write up like this at the restaurant - would make it so much easier to choose - belated happy birthday Cindy - sounds like it was a sweet one :-) Michael, I didn't know there was such a thing as too much ganache

    Hope you both have a great christmas

  5. Mel, that's interesting! I know quite a few omnis who are fans of this restaurant, but can also agree that C&C look after us vegos rather well.

    Hi Claire! Yes, I think they probably just use a dessert spoon to serve the icecream, much like in this video.

    Thanks Hannah! When you only have a few nights in town, and lots of friends to share the plates with, I think your approach is bang on. :-)

    Thanks Johanna! I wasn't too upset about the ganache quantity either. ;-) All the best for your summer break.

  6. Wow, best idea for birthday ever! :) I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with dragging it out either ;) I've been dying to have that chocolate ice-cream sandwich forever, so may have to be a late comer to satisfy cravings...

    1. Thanks Ashley - I was pretty pleased with myself after thinking it up. ;-) Don't miss that icecream sandwich!