Inside Cutler & Co's Ambitious Multi-Space Renovation

Andrew McConnell has revealed big plans for a Chef's Table, luxe dining room and a highly desirable front bar.
Libby Curran
Published on February 21, 2017

In Melbourne's fast-changing restaurant scene, upgrades are always inevitable, even for a culinary institution like Andrew McConnell's Cutler & Co. So, after eight booming years, the Gertrude Street fine diner is looking at a timely revamp, shutting its doors yesterday and promising to unveil a new look and menu when it reopens mid-March.

"Restaurant years are like dog years, especially in this town," says McConnell. "So I'm pretty happy to still be here; still receiving enthusiastic diners. But just because people enjoy it, doesn't mean that I can rest on my laurels. I have been looking at this space for eight years and I can see new potential for it, but it is very much an evolution rather than an revolution."

Design for the new C&C space will be helmed by IF Architecture's Iva Foschia, who's come up with a fit-out to complement her previous work next door, at McConnell's wine bar, Marion. Foschia first sparked McConnell's attention after she pitched an early design for his Fitzroy butcher Meatsmith. Cutler & Co's new design will boast a trio of distinct dining spaces set around the existing Pilbara marble bar, including an open Chef's Table, a luxe dining room, and a front bar that'll be worth a visit even on its own. Think bronze details, leather chairs, slate-flecked stone and green granite.

"When we were ready to press 'go' on Cutler & Co 2.0, Iva knew the processes, the scale of operations, the spaces and the people working in them," said McConnell. "I didn't want her piggy backing on Marion, but a re-design of Cutler & Co had to complement it, had to manifest our design DNA. In my brief to her it was also important that the front bar become a destination in its own right — a stand-alone venue that catered for the quick drink, a platter of fruits de mer, or an abalone tonkatsu sandwich."

Meanwhile, there are some equally grand changes in store for the menu, with long-time collaborator Chris Watson (Luxembourg) stepping into the kitchen to help push Cutler & Co's culinary offering into its next evolutionary phase. Diners will still be able to feast their way through a splurge-worthy degustation or a la carte selection, though now there'll be even more of those share-friendly statement dishes, like a whole roasted, dry-aged duck from Great Ocean Ducks.

Plus, with an eye to making that front bar a drinking destination in its own right, the team will be offering a separate, seafood-heavy bar menu — an exciting proposition given the quality of drinking snacks McConnell's long been dishing up at places like Cumulus Inc., Marion, and The Builders Arms.

Cutler & Co reopens mid March. Marion will continue to trade throughout the renovation.

Published on February 21, 2017 by Libby Curran
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