45 Flinders Ln
03 9650 1445
It was a rather last minute impulsive decision to dine at the infamous Cumulus Inc. with my sister. This place does not accept bookings, except for large groups, so quite fortunately we were able to arrive early-ish to score a table before the hoards of people arrived for a Friday night treat.
Located on the very east-end of Flinders lane, right next to Craft Victoria (top right) and the entrance is hidden away in the arcade leading to the Arc One Gallery. This eating house and bar is set around two working spaces – the bar at the entrance and the very-open plan kitchen at the rear. There is real sense of warmth and interaction with the kitchen – every sound, movement and smell translating directly to the onlooker. Simple wooden chairs, naked tables (*ahem* with no white veiling cloth) and being slightly raucous gives this space an air of casual-classiness.
** to start **
Breads – simple serving of wholemeal sourdough and brioche with butter. Not the best bread I’ve had, but came in quite useful when the next dish arrived…
Slow cooked octopus – extremely tender morsels of octopus adorned with a juicy tomato acidity, a mild kick of green chilli heat and married with a divine aioli. The starting bread was the perfect instrument to mop up that remaining goodness, and save me from physically licking the plate clean. More PLEASE!
Soft shell mud crab – generous serving of large soft shell crabs served in a bowl-too-small. Delimbed and lightly battered, the crabs were delicately crispy, juicy and meaty as well. A dash of lemon adds just the right amount of acidity to balance the simple seasoning. Extremely addictive, but not so much different to Japanese tempura versions – though extremely good versions at that.
** charcuterie **
Wagyu bresaola (40g) with beetroot & almond – I am generally not a big fan of cured meats, but the delightful use of sweet beetroot flavours to cut through the ingrained fatty layers in the wagyu, makes for a fragrant mouthful of meat and juices. Nom omom…
** salad **
Grilled zucchini – the zucchini is lightly grilled with a nice residual crunch, and is tossed with a mild sumac and tingle of mint. It is a deceptively heavy dish with the addition of yoghurt and shanklish cheese. Though not unpalatable by any means, we struggled to finish this when we had numerous other amazing dishes presented before us.
** fish **
Tuna tartare with crushed green pea salad – gleaming cubes of sea-delicious yellow fin tuna are served on a bed of crunchy crushed green peas, flavoured with a dash of zing from the citrus, spring onion and yoghurt. Although a tad heavy on the spring onion, I still found each spoonful to be clean and absolutely crisp on the palate.
** meat **
Great ocean duck breast and leg, plum sauce & spiced turnips – tender cuts of crispy deep fried leg and grilled duck breast with bisected turnips that were juicy and well caramelised. The leg reminded me of Chinese-crispy chicken, whilst the duck breast was a sophisticated upscale version of roast chicken. I was neither impressed nor disappointed, but was in part left envying the dish we didn’t (and couldn’t) order … look below
Sitting facing the kitchen on the high benches gave us full view of what was happening, which left us (*ahem, me) eyeing the whole slow roast lamb shoulder each time it was served around us. NEXT TIME with a group of 4+!!!
** dessert **
Madeleine – As we watched drooling, the chef takes these beautifully golden madeleines out from the oven, carefully pipe lemon curd into them, lightly dust with sugar and then promptly presented them before us. They are warm, a touch crispy, fluffy and buttery, and filled with a gorgeous lemon’y curd. At $2.50 each, these are a must order for anyone who comes to Cumulus!
Pearl barley ice cream, soft chocolate, caramel and rye – A quenelle of dark chocolate that is both smooth and decadently rich, is overpoweringly catapulted against the subtle pearl barley fragrance of the white quenelle (there may have also been a hint of rum). There is an abundance of crunch from the upright tuille, chocolate crumbs and toasted rye. Delicious, but a little off balanced by the chocolate ganache.
Rating: almost Yummy+2 – a semi-casual and rowdy space serving nothing short of marvellous food. I may have been a little more critical in this review picking at fine details, but I must admit the dishes that worked were brilliant, and the rest were only not so good in relative comparison. Service was pleasant and knowledgeable, although recommendation for number of dishes was clearly excessive – we were totally stuffed! Although a little pricey, I will definitely return for the lamb shoulder and more of those lovely madeleines!
P.S. i took so many photos (with and without flash) I even managed to catch one of the chef’s greasing at me… =P