Roast chicken and Andrew McConnell. Anyone who belittles the virtues of chicken has not tasted perfect roast chicken. There was a time where chicken was plain Jane. Go to Marion and a half roast chicken is anything but that!
The complication (besides salmonella) when cooking chicken is the fact that it is so often overcooked that we all believe it shouldn’t be soft and moist. We overcook it, bringing out extra salt in the skin, that compensates for some of the flavour lost as the chicken dries out. Then we cover it with any sauce to compensate, and have each mouthful with potatoes of some description.
What is difficult to explain is why every time I eat chicken at one of McConnell’s restaurants, whether it be Cutler, or Luxembourg, or here at Marion, it is far better than the rest. Chicken, if nothing else, is certainly not new. It has been around. Why does it seem so complicated normally?
I’m not a chef, and I haven’t done food science in a Heston type manner, so I won’t be answering any of my own questions here. All I know is that you can come to a wine bar on Gertrude Street that serves beautiful quality food, along with interesting wine, and a damn fine roast chicken.
The space is comfortable in the way a crowded, people filled space can be when everyone is having a good time. Service keeps to that script with good ability and reasonable attentiveness. Even our starter of peas, broadbeans, scamorza cheese and pistachios is amazing, almost impossible to set aside to wait to eat with our chicken and chips. Unable to help ourselves, we also tucked into dessert in the form of lemon tart with strawberries and basil. The pastry was slightly sweetened to counteract the savoury quality of the basil with a balanced curd that had us reaching for more.
Almost genius is the fact that we are sitting in a restaurant that is literally next door to Andrew’s flagship, Cutler and Co, which continues to thrive, but could be miles away for all we know. The two are as separate as if they were in different suburbs. That naturally makes dining in them completely different experiences, making dining in one today, and the other tomorrow, absolutely no issue whatsoever. It goes without saying that this is far more lucrative than merely creating another branch.
While I think Marion might be close to genius, I am positive McConnell is pretty much there. Try the chicken.