I rarely publish negative reviews as I think that a restaurant that provides poor service does not deserve any publicity, but I also think some experiences should be shared. I had dinner with my girlfriend at Cutler and Co on Sunday night and I’m not gushing about it.
I wasn’t planning on writing a review as it has already been reviewed so many times. We were out to enjoy ourselves. I considered myself ‘off-duty’ as a food blogger and deliberately did not bring my camera with me. The review I now find myself unexpectedly writing looks rather barren, so I have linked to other reviews that contain photos of the same dishes we ate.
We had a booking for 6.30pm and were told to be prompt as we had to vacate the table by 8.30pm for a later booking. We were also told we were welcome to arrive earlier and have a drink from 6.00pm.
We arrived at 6.15pm, explained we had a booking and asked whether we should sit in the front bar area or go straight to our table. Our smarmy pony-tailed waiter offered us a table at the bar and took my cocktail order. We waited. And waited. No drink. He sauntered about to little effect but did look very pleased with himself.
Judging from the overheard conversation, the table next to us was also there for an early booking. At 6.30pm they stood and indicated that they expected to be seated at their table. They moved into the rear dining area. We sat for few more minutes and then did the same.
By now it was more than 20 minutes after I had ordered my drink and it still had not arrived. We had seen other people who had ordered drinks after us receive theirs already. After we were seated at our table we had to ask to be given menus as they were not immediately provided, and I was almost ready to walk out in disgust.
We read the menu and wine menu and I canceled my cocktail order. Our waitress in the dining area was infinitely better than the man in the bar. Once we had the menus, she was extremely efficient throughout the evening.
As our time was limited and some of it had been wasted, we were quick to order. I ordered the appetiser of anchovy pastries; the entree of marron, purslane, fennel and Serrano ham (photo); a glass of rose to go with the entree; the main of roast suckling pig and parsley root with turnip and plum purees (photo); and a glass of the wonderful SC Pannell ‘pronto’ mourvedre shiraz grenache blend.
My girlfriend ordered the entree of confit ocean trout with beetroot with a glass of semillon and a main of snapper with a chorizo and cuttlefish braise (photo) with a glass of the same dry rose I had with my entree (the wine list on the website is different to the one at the restaurant and I cannot remember the rest of the wines).
For dessert I had the icecream sandwich with salted caramel (photo) and my girlfriend had the coffee cake with banana sorbet and raspberries. Our time was running out. We skipped on dessert wines and coffees, asked for the bill, paid and left at 8.30pm exactly. Approx $240 for two including 4 glasses of wine. Reasonable value for very fine food, but insulting for disgusting service.
Our waitress in the dining area saved the evening for us, and made it a pleasant experience from the time we ordered. Unfortunately, her good service could not completely make up for my first impression, which was of a place that employs smug idiots at front of house to discourage customers from ever wanting to return. This is a sign that complacency has set in.
After browsing through all the reviews I could find, it was not surprising to discover that I’m not alone in having complaints about the service: see here and here. For reviews from 2009, see d0ublecooked, melhotornot, herestheveg, jeroxie and saucythyme. From 2010, see gourmettoglam, tastedbytwo, mailintalks, melbournegastronome, petedoesstuff and akajean.
Although the food is excellent, I won’t be returning and I won’t be recommending it to friends. If you want a splendid dining experience in Fitzroy, try The Commoner, Griff’s wine pub, St Jude’s Cellars or Mon Ami instead. Actually, try anywhere. Food tastes better when you’re encouraged to feel relaxed and comfortable.
I’ve heard from other diners that someone from Cutler and Co may call you the next day to ask if you enjoyed your meal. I received no phone call on Monday, and if I receive one today I will simply direct them to read my review.