Let me start by saying that the banquet meal is E.P.I.C. Every single item was amazingly delicious and we all went too hard at the beginning. By the time we got to the star dish of the lamb shoulder, everyone was so full that we couldn't even finish the shoulders. Anyway, I digress. Like all good stories, let me start from the start.
The meal started with some really addictive nibbles. Spiced almonds were really tasty but it was the Padron Peppers that had everyone hooked. As some of you may know, Padron peppers come in spicy and mild forms. It's like a Russian roulette biting into one. You never know what you'll get. The spicy ones are quite hot indeed, with a nice fiery burn. We all had some much fun biting into the peppers and everyone liked the taste of them, even the spicy ones.
Entrees consisted of Kingfish Sashimi on Chips, Natural Oysters, Prosciutto, Bresaola with Beetroot and Roasted Eggplant. The kingfish sashimi was super fresh and wonderfully zingy. You can never go wrong with fresh natural oysters in my opinion. The two cured meats were of a high quality. However, it was the roasted eggplant that thoroughly surprised me. It was so moreish that we all couldn't stop eating it. Wonderfully soft and smooth, combined with herbs, paprika and a creamy sauce.
Two salads arrived next. The Frekkah salad pictured below was wonderfully fresh and combined lots of great flavours and had an equally interesting mixture of textures. A Cauliflower (can't stand cauliflower normally) salad was my favourite dish thus far. It was done in an Indian Manchurian style of sorts, stir fried with lots of spices to have a caramelised flavour, freshness from herbs and the addition of pomegranates is genius.
The main star of the show, the Lamb Shoulder arrived next. It was the most tender, moist and flavoursome leg of lamb I've ever had. All 10 of us could not believe how tasty the lamb was. There were crunchy bits, caramelised bit while all the time being tender and full of flavour. It was served with Roasted Sweet Potato, which were delectable as well. The lamb was so yummy but we were all so full that we couldn't finish it. Such a waste. Tip for next time, remember to not finish all the earlier dishes and save room in the tummy for the lamb.
For dessert, I was crossing all my digits and hoping for multiple servings of the madeleines each. Instead, we got a Mandarin Sorbet with Chocolate Mousse, Meringue and Chocolate Dirt. I didn't like the dessert at all, but that's because I hate the combination of citrus with chocolate. I didn't mind the sorbet and the mousse by itself was ok too (a bit too dark and bitter even for my liking) but the whole dessert together did not work for me. If you like citrus with chocolate, you'll love this dessert.
That concluded an amazing banquet meal. I'm so happy that I got to try it. Most of the dishes that we sampled cannot be found on the menu and can only be eaten via the banquet, meaning you had to have a large group. The banquet was a steal at $80 and with drinks, it was about $100 each. A thoroughly simple yet amazingly satisfying delicious meal. Trust Andrew McConnell to be able to make the ordinary extraordinary.
Service at any Andrew McConnell restaurant is impeccable and this was no different. The staff were friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. The atmosphere at Cumulus Inc is always wonderful, but I especially love the bench seats that we were at along the far brick wall. This allows you to see all parts of the room, from the front bar, the middle tables, to the back kitchen area where the meticulous team prepare so many wonderful meals from a tiny area. All these elements combined with the great food make for a most wonderful meal.
Overall Rating: 16/20, Great simple food done extremely well. Wonderful service and atmosphere.
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.