Cumulus Inc | Restaurant and Bar | Andrew McConnell | Melbourne | Victoria Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Cumulus Inc. HeartHeartHeart
Restaurants and bars
Open: Breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days
Price: Moderate

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Phone Number: +61 3 9650 1445
Address: 45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000
Country: Australia

Cumulus Inc is a showcase for Andrew McConnell's clever food set in the heart of the art and fashion precinct at the top end of Flinders Lane in Melbourne.
It is rare that we visit a venue more than once on a single trip to a city, but this is exactly what we did on our visit to Melbourne. We went to Cumulus Inc for breakfast, lunch and dinner - so impressed were we with every aspect of the operation of this very cool establishment.
What was it that impressed us so much and what was it that made us think of comparisons to other places we had visited such as the now closed Inopia in Barcelona or Terroir in New York?
The first thing you notice on entering this inviting space is that there are five different configurations of seating. You can sit at the main bar on backless bentwood stools or at the marble bar overlooking the open kitchen where you will be seated on chunky wooden, backless stools that are fixed in place. There is also a high, round communal table (near the expected feature lights), some conventional table with comfortable bentwood chairs and then down the side of the restaurant some banquette seating.
We prefer the marble bar in front of the open kitchen so we can see the young chefs carrying out their duties calmly and efficiently without any theatrics or unnecessary display.
The service is very professional and each waiting person is well-versed in the components of the dishes and the available wines.
Dishes come in two sizes. There are small dishes such as the slow-cooked octopus served with a dollop of aioli on top of each piece and crowned with some dehydrated olive or boudin noir which sees two thick pieces of the dark sausage roasted with a slice of smoked tomato and then topped with a vibrant parsley salad. There is also a great dish that has texture, flavour and interest. It is called 'Silk purse from a sow's ear' and is crispy stuffed pig's ear served with an exemplary ravigote sauce.
And, as with Inopia n Barcelona and Le Comptoir in Paris you can also order canned foods! Here it is a tin of Ortiz anchovies.
A Kitchen Charcuterie Selection on the evening we were there saw us offered four tastes: rabbit terrine was paired with a dark prune chutney, sopressa was teamed with a delightful green tomato relish, Wagyu bresaola was flecked with fresh horseradish and sat atop a celeriac remoulade and the final component was Prosciutto di Parma.
A mid-sized dish was a perfect escabeche with small pieces of red mullet, scallops, mussels and clams. Texture and colour was provided by finely diced carrot.
One of the most exciting dishes was a crumbed broccolini polonaise with jamon, anchovies and a slow cooked egg. The textural aspect of the dish was perfect with the soft, runny egg tumbling over crisp breadcrumbs that were flavoured with jamon shards and pieces of anchovy.
We rounded the meal off with an incredibly light rum Baba laced with 7 year old rum that was placed at the table for you to pour your own. An apple granita with vanilla ice cream was equally exemplary.
We were also pleased with the selection of wines, both by the glass and bottle. We enjoyed a Loire Valley Domaine Grange de la Pierre Muscadet by the glass and a Domaine de l'Oratoire St Martin Cairanne from the southern Rhone Valley by the bottle. With the desserts we ordered a couple of glasses of the Telmo Rodriguez MR Moscatel.
So impressed were we that we returned for lunch the next day. The siren that drew us back was a whole shoulder of slow-cooked lamb designed for two to share. This had been cooked sous-vide for 12 hours and then roasted in a hot oven for about 40 minutes to crisp it up and get some caramels working. It was a truly wonderful taste sensation and worked perfectly with a Pittnauer St Laurent Burgenland red from Austria. This wine from the eastern side of Austria near the Hungarian border is a relative of Pinot Noir but somewhat more powerful and inky in appearance. However the low tannin content makes it a pleasant food wine.
While we were waiting for the lamb to be cooked we also enjoyed some Kumoto and Label rouge oysters that were shucked to order and a stunning soup of salt cod topped with a vibrant foam of parsley.
By now we were totally addicted so the next morning we headed off bright and early for breakfast (as did the rest of Melbourne). Soon after we arrived it was packed again! We enjoyed the excellent coffee and the freshly squeezed grapefruit juice along with a beautiful parsley and tomato salad studded with sardines and a dish of baked Turkish eggs topped with labne.
There is no doubt that this is a significant restaurant for food lovers. The service is great, the space interesting and the food is exemplary. We look forward to our next visit.
Note that Cumulus has commenced trading on Sundays from 8am to 11pm.

Disclaimer: Through an associated business, we import natural wines to Australia and are now supplying this establishment with some lines.

A description of the wines we are importing can be found here:

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