87 Flinders La
Melbourne 3000 VIC
Phone: (03) 9650 0900
After reading glorious review after glorious review, I really wanted to go to Cumulus Inc. But you see, there's a slight problem. They don't take reservations. I have already waxed lyrical about the no reservation policy in this post which discusses the pros and cons, after my visit to Giuseppe Arnaldo and Sons which doesn't take reservations. Fellow food blogger Jackie has also written a post the topic, which includes an article bashing the no reservation policy in the Sydney Morning Herald and a reply but none other than Neil Perry himself. Very interesting reading, go have a look.
Well back to my dinner. With the no reservation policy, what happens is that when you get there a little late, you have to wait two hours at a popular place like Cumulus Inc. So what's a man to do when he's already starving, walk the streets and look for an alternative. Even the alternatives were all booked out ironically, so we end up at Terra Rossa. Sometimes, things you find by accident turn out to be the best things, unfortunately, Terra Rossa isn't one of them.
The interior actually looks very nice and has a nice charming feel to it. I really like the chandeliers and the massive bar, which I thought was very elegant.
The staff were quite good, and you could tell they were really trying with the food, but it just didn't work. The serving sizes were extremely generous but the chef just tried to do too much with every single dish. It's like watching an episode of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares where he keeps telling the chefs to simplify things and just let the ingredients speak for themselves. The ingredients at Terra Rossa were good too, but just killed off by overdoing everything.
For starters, the tapas plate looked the deal but wasn't. The calamari were cooked to be too tough. The meatballs lacked flavour, the pork was nice and the mushrooms had a weird combination of flavours.
Of all the mains, not one was good. Everything was so overdone with flavours that didn't blend. My Roast Lamb would have tasted beautiful with just the sauce and mashed potatoes for instance. Instead, there was a hundred ingredients sitting underneath that did not blend well together. The Roast Chicken had so many flavours I couldn't tell what was what. The caramelised onions accompanying the Grilled Steak was fantastic, but the steak was grilled until it was one of the chewiest steak I've ever eaten. The Steak Burger was ok, but ruined by the soggy flavourless chips that went with it.
Desserts ran the same way. All these weird flavours going into normal desserts. The Tiramisu had some other weird alcohol put into it and tasted bad. The Chocolate Cake had some weird sauce that ruined a perfectly fine cake. The Panna Cotta would have worked well just served with fruit, but instead had another weird ultra sour sauce that ruined it.
Overall, the food here was just not good. Elements of it were good, but if only they could strip it back a lot and keep it simplier. It might work then.
Overall Rating: 10/20, All the dishes were too complicated and did not taste good as a whole.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.