Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cumulus Inc

45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: (03) 9650 1445

I had tried to go to Andrew McConnell's Cumulus Inc before, but with their no booking policy, I wasn't able to get in. But after reading some rave reviews from Claire here and here, I made sure I got there really early to grab a table. Even by 6:30pm, the room was completely full.

The restaurant is quite a strange space I feel. On one side you have the bar area which is actually used for eating. A small area at the back is used for customers who are waiting, and if that fills up, people literally are standing around the door area such is the popularity of the restaurant. The other side of the room consits of the kitchen, which has bar seating so you can watch what the chefs are doing. Next time I'm making sure I get one of those seats. In between the two bar seating are tables of varying heights scattered around. We were seated at a small wooden table right in the middle of the room. The lighting is low, but with spotlights centred on each table, it gave both the sense of mood lighting whilst also allowing you to actually read your menu.

We started off our meal with some oysters. Cumulus has a huge range of oysters, as Claire explained at the oyster shucking course. We settled on the Clair de lune bouton, Moonlight en surface and Moulting Bay oysters. The Clair de lune was quite nice, sort of like a Pacific Oyster with a less creamy texture and milder flavour. The Moonlight was a bit rusty in flavour in the back palate. I didn't really like it. The Moulting Bay oyster was my favourite. It was ultra creamy and had a slight saltiness, like an amped up Coffin Bay oyster.

A special of the night was Kingfish Sashimi with Caviar on a Crisp. It was really delicious, with the caviar adding a slight pop of saltiness.

The Kitchen Charcuterie Selection was a generous plate of Sicilian Salami, Proscuitto, Chicken Terrine and Wagyu Bresaola. Everything was really good, but the Wagyu Bresaola was a hightlight.

The "mains" we got of Pork Strap, Poached Lemon and Cabbage Salad was divine. The pork was so tender and had the thinnest crispiest skin I've ever seen. A salad of Rocket, Radicchio, Ricotta and Candied Walnuts worked really well. I love the bits of candied walnuts that gave the whole salad a lift.

A dessert of Stout Parfait, Valrhona Chocolate and Blackcurrant Sorbet was really to my liking. You could taste the stout and I thought it gave the parfait a really fragrant flavour.

We had the Petit Fours, which were Hazelnut Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Thyme and Honey Jelly. The salted caramel was the hightlight from the three. The other two were ok. A must order though is the Lemon Curd Madeleines. They are cooked to order so there's a 15 minute wait, but it's worth it. These madeleines were so moist and soft and the lemon curd was sensational. I really don't like lemon type desserts, but this one totally won me over.

The ambience in the room is really good. It's a bit weird to sit on the small tables as you feel dwarfed by the bars and higher tables around you. But you soon forget that and enjoy the buzz in the room. It actually got quite loud later and we had to talk quite loudly to be heard.

Service was really good. Our waitress was very efficient and friendly and had everything covered. I thought that with the number of patrons, the service would be quite bad, but it was very good. One of the dishes we ordered was forgotten but when we pointed this out, they removed it from the bill.

I can see why people would queue up to eat here despite a no booking policy. There were people waiting all night and the queue was quite long when we left. It's billed as casual dining but it's by no means cheap. I don't mind paying those prices as I think it's worth it, but others may think it's quite expensive. With drinks, our meal was about $60 each, by no means cheap.

Overall Rating: 16/20, Delicious innovative food in a buzzing restaurant.

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.

Cumulus Inc. on Urbanspoon


  1. Dessert looks amazing! This place is on my must-visit list for when I'm next in Melbourne.

  2. Y, the desserts are really delicious. You must try the lemon madeleines. They are just ridiculously simple but yet sublime.

    Which other restaurants are you thinking of visiting while in Melbourne?