Charcoal Lane, then Cutler & Co
136 Gertrude St
03 9418 3400
This post has been overdue to be written for such a long time that I can barely remember what things I ate and what things tasted like. I must say I have an incredibly poor memory for someone who needs his memory all the time. Luckily I did jot down a few notes in the subsequent days to jolt my memory.
Friday night predictably hosts the end of week social catch-up for your average 9-to-5 jobs, but is quite a rarity for us in a field with unpredictable hours. After numerous failed attempts, we tried extra hard to make it work this time – make a booking plus-or-minus a few people, set a late-ish start time and set aside a decent pre-drinks period (*ahem wait period) before we actually ordered. Well low and behold, over an hour of staggered arrivals we finally had a table of 7 – success? =)
After much deliberation over an appropriate dining location I settled upon a place on Gertrude St. I was quite surprised and inspired to find Charcoal Lane is in fact part of Mission Australia, participating in a program that “provides opportunities for Aboriginal and disadvantaged young people to transform their lives [by working and training here]. All the profits… go to supporting [future] programs.”
The bleach white exterior with panels of black gives this place an air of clean sleek class. The interior follows suit with clean simple lines with a few splashes of colour and artsy-ness.
Amuse bouche – To begin with, a petite globular glass of salmon and possibly sweet hints of melon crunch. It was smoky, juicy, but somewhat oily with not quite enough acidity.
Scallop & unagi tartare, applewood smoked ocean trout, avruga caviar, finger lime – The crisp colours presented on this plate to my surprise also translated to a clean crisp aroma on the palate. The tartare of fresh bouncy-bite scallop bound together by light creamy and zesty mortar was delightfully refreshing. Ocean trout was quite robustly smoky providing a stark contrast to the tartare. Unagi though sweet and tender, was not particularly memorable. Sidenote: I was horrified at how many repetitions of this dish occurred around the table, SIGH!!!
Roast quail, corn puree, roasted king brown mushroom, muntries berries jus – Mr BC ordered this dish. “Looks” mouth watering doesn’t it?
Beetroot, saltbush, nashi pear, marinated feta – Our first side dish to arrive was quite a visual spectacle of purple earth and delicate white fronds. No doubt I currently have a bias towards anything with beetroot in it, so needless to say I found this mellow salad quite refreshing with beetroot-earthiness and a pinch of feta acidity. Thin slices of nashi was more visual than flavour, being cut quite thin it provided crunch but little juicy sweetness.
Brocollini, ginger, macadamia nuts – Second side of cooked brocollini had hints of ginger heat with splashes of macadamia crunch. More macadamia please! (sorry no photo)
Roast barramundi fillet, sugar cured bonito, young radish, lemon myrtle, vanilla soubise – Ms AT was incredibly pleased with her fish, as was I with a small taste bite of it. It was perfectly roasted with a soft juicy and tender meat coupled with a sweet white sauce of vanilla and onion.
Kangaroo fillet, caramelized witlof, beet purée, wild tamarind jus – Despite the almost blue rare, each bite of meat was incredibly tender and with a nice level of gamey intensity. The tamarind jus certainly gave a nice sweet and tart acidity to bring together the dish. I was sad to only sneak a few bites from Mr JL’s dish, but luckily mine wasn’t a disappointment either.
Loin of veal, yabbies, confit tongue, shimeji mushrooms, yando rubies jus – I was actually intending on ordering kangaroo myself, but upholding my food-blogger principles of not doubling up I refused to order the same dish as Mr JL. The loin of veal was a little rough on the edges – quite literally a little tough – but to my relief was tender on the inside and had a nice pink tinge to it. The rich buttery sauce went particularly well with the charry aroma of the meat. The shimeji mushrooms and wilted greens soaked up all that juicy goodness at the end.
Rating: Yummy+1, quite simply inspired food for a noble cause. I wouldn’t say the flavours are wondrously spectacular but the quality is certainly consistent and has a rustic feel about it. Apologies no desserts were ordered tonight… leaving room for dessert down the road.
Please see below for more information =)
Cutler & Co
57 Gertrude St
Having experienced the sheer awe of Cutler and Co desserts before, I had no reservations in persuading the group for a second stop here after dinner. Ok, so we lost a few people after dinner, but ‘we’ still made it!
Chocolate ice cream sandwich, vanilla parfait & salted caramel – It is practically the same as my previous review (see HERE) with a small change in the size – surprisingly not smaller but bigger. How awesome is that! I must admit though that with the greater generosity of serving, there was a slight imbalance of sweetness from the salty caramel and parfait in ratio with the dark-bitter chocolate. But small point aside – amazingly good and completely satisfying.
Black sesame, apricot sorbet, thyme butter cream & yoghurt – Quite a beautifully colourful contrast to the cube sandwich, the light hues of orange and sesame are a joy on the eyes. With far less sugary intensity, the intention is that of a refreshing note with a light fruity sorbet of apricot, on a bed of toasty sesame powder and roof of sesame crisp. The subtle nuances of sesame coupled with the acidity of sorbet and yoghurt makes for an uplifting end to the night.