When you are a true foodie at heart, the right restaurant will always find you. This was pretty much the case when we stumbled upon Cumulus. We were in Melbourne for only a few days and trying to fit in as much time with the beloved family as possible. But my inner food blogger was also aching to try some of the various restaurants around town, given we were visiting the foodie capital of Australia.
After a rather touristy walk around the city, we were famished and Cumulus was just the answer to our starving tummies.
The place was packed to the rafters but the maître d’ got us seats at the bar. This actually turned out to be wonderful as we could catch all the live action from the open kitchen with our wine glasses in tow.
The place is fairly spacious with a bar and an open, functional kitchen on opposite sides. Wide, open spaces, high ceilings with numerous spotlights and an all-glass facade makes it bright and airy inside. The vibe is cheery, casual and buzzy.
Given this is an all-day restaurant, we saw an array of people, all dining for different reasons – brunch, lunch, business meetings, puddings, good coffee or hungry tourists like us.
There are two things we noticed about eating out in Melbourne and this is purely a personal observation.
Firstly, the restaurants always seem to be packed, no matter what time or day of the week it is. Unlike London, where eating establishments are dead on a Monday and Tuesday, in Melbourne we found ourselves struggling to get reservations even on a Monday evening. Yes, Melburnians do love to eat out which makes it totally my kind of city.
Secondly, there are always lots of staff. Unlike French restaurants (where there is always only one) or even London (where there are not enough), every restaurant in Melbourne had ample waiters. I can only assume that the pay in the hospitality industry is better there than here.
Anyway, back to the food (which was delicious by the way). We started with a basket of warmed and crispy home baked bread accompanied by luxuriously salty butter.
The Octopus was the ubiquitous ingredient of 2017. Here it was served Grilled with Chickpeas and Green Tomato. It was a palate-pleasing dish of soft octopus, crunchy chickpeas and tangy tomato.
It also seemed like the season of courgette or ‘Zucchini Flowers‘ as most restaurants were including it on their specials board. Here it was served, fried in a light batter and served alongside a dollop of paprika mayonnaise.
One thing that we absolutely had to have was the Ricotta Dumplings, Buttered Spinach, Almond and Currants. The ricotta was soft and dreamy, delicately perfumed with lemon. Against the white cheese, the verdant green of the spinach and herbs looked radiant. It was an exquisite combination of nutty crunch, soft leaves and salty cheese.
Perhaps not so well executed was the side of Roast potatoes, Confit Garlic and Sage. The presentation and flavours were all there but the potatoes were overdone.
Thankfully, our main of the Slow Roast Lamb Shoulder, Almond and Smoked Paprika was a sure fire winner. It was a sumptuous slab of meat, bold and generously slathered with a piquant paprika sauce.
Having sat for hours observing and admiring the pastry chef at work, we couldn’t give dessert a miss, even though we were stuffed. I tried their freshly made, insanely buttery Madeleine, filled with lemon curd. It was a sweet little spongy delight, delicious with my strong black coffee.
Service was meticulous and well-paced. Water was refilled as soon as the glasses were empty, napkins folded back instantly and wine topped up as quickly as it was guzzled.
‘Cumulus’ refers to clouds with a fluffy appearance. Having dined at this Cumulus, I can honestly say there is nothing ‘fluffy’ about this restaurant. Just peerless looking, modish approach to food, good coffee and stellar service!
Location: 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 3000
More information can be found here.