Thursday, 18 December 2014

Cumulus Up

Address: 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Vic 3000
Phone: (03) 9650 1445

Cumulus Up is one of many ventures owned by the talented Andrew McConnell, who has redefined the Melbourne dining scene with restaurants such Supernormal, Moon Under water, Luxembourg Bar and Bistro and Cumulus Inc. Cumulus Up, an extension of Cumulus Inc., is a fancy wine bar, which also serves fine foods to be shared between guests. 

When catching up with Ada, a friend I hadn't seen in a long time, I suggested Cumulus Up because I thought it'd be fun to test a variety of dishes while we talked about all the things that had happened this year. I'd been to Cumulus Up for the first time not long before and I was keen to try some of the dishes I didn't get to try last time because everything sounded so good.

We started off with the Grilled King Prawn with Creme Freche and Lemon. The tender prawn meat was enhanced by the creamy, zesty flavours it was served with. Really a delicious entree dish. The only issue I had was scooping the meat from the shell - every bite required a bit of work. But I suppose that what you get when you order prawns!

The next dish we tried was the Duck Waffle with Foie Gras and Prune. I'd tried the Duck Waffle on my first visit and fell in love, which was why I recommended that Ada order it too. This is the dish that you go to Cumulus Up for. Rich, buttery, melt-in-your mouth foie gras is served with sweet, prune jam on top of a light and crispy waffle that has tiny, shredded duck pieces folded into the batter. It's a rich dish, but so flavoursome and delightful that I'm pretty sure it'd be a sin to come to Cumulus and avoid this one.

After the duck waffle, our mains came. I'd picked the first two dishes, so it seemed only fair to make Ada choose something too. (And honestly, I hate making decisions when everything looks good!) Ada ended up picking the Pork Rack, which came out beautifully presented.

The pork belly was so soft and tender with a thin brittle layer of cracking above. The meat was flavoured by the basil, parsley and olive oil green sauce or Salsa Verde. It really added a salty and herbyedge to the white bean puree and the pork cuts. On the topic of the puree, I really enjoyed it. As a thick, creamy paste, it added a smooth texture to the the dish.

To go with the Pork Rack, we also ordered a Roast Potato side. I generally love potatoes (even though they bring on the carbs), but these were really something. They were covered with a thick Confit Garlic sauce, which added a strong salty taste to the soft, warm potato flesh in their crackling skins. 

I think Ada enjoyed her meal...and I know most certainly did. Maybe it could be accredited to good company know what they say, good company makes good food better.

In terms of the restaurant, the interior was beautiful with jagged mirrors, flowers and wine bottles lining the walls. On this visit, we also had a really friendly waiter, who came to our table three times (as we kept forgetting to look at the menu, getting deep into conversation) without showing any attitude. He was patient and smiley, which really made a good impression on me. He also gave us a cheery good-bye and thank you when we paid for our meal. 

I feel I should also talk a bit about my first visit too although that was about a month ago. It was a meet-up with high school friends who seen Cumulus on a list of Must-Tries for Melbourne. Although it was a catch up with a group of people, I somehow manged to weasel my way into taking some nice food pictures, even with the lack of natural light inside the restaurant (We were dining at 8pm) and the 10 people who had to wait for me to do the happy snaps before they could dig in.

On that night, I started off with a cocktail - I can't remember the name of it, but it was not my cup of tea (Or rather, glass of gin). It tasted a lot like cough syrup, unfortunately. Though it did have a lovely misty purple hue to it.

We tried the Duck Waffles and the Roast Potatoes on my first visit, as I mentioned before. But we also shared a number of other dishes including the Spanner Crab and Brioche...These were crunchy, toasted brioche fingers, oozing with oil and topped with a creamy Spanner crab and salmon mixture. Definitely rich, but in their tiny size, a good amount to excite the taste buds without being too much for the stomach.

Another dish we tried was the Ricotta Dumplings with Burnt Butter and Pine Nuts. In my mind, dumplings are always filled with meat...probably because I grew up on Asian-styled pork dumplings. So I was initially weary of this dish. But it turned out to be delicious - round parcels of thin skin that melted with the fluffy ricotta filling. It had the lovely aroma of pine nuts and melted butter. Again, rich, but delicious with a small tasting.

We then got into the Whole Rock Flathead and Mussels En Papillote with Herb Salad. Perhaps it's because I don't know if I like Mussels or not, but this one didn't have as much pulling power over me. The fish was fresh and tender and the herbs flavoured the subtle taste of the fish. But I can't say much about the mussels - I didn't try any. I guess I enjoyed the dish, but perhaps not as much as the others.

Finally, we tried the dried aged 600gr. rib fillet. My friends kind of dug into it by accident before I got a picture. But it was delicious...and kind of difficult to share with friends because you wanted to go back in for another piece.

All in all, I really liked dining at Cumulus Up. It serves some interesting dishes, unique to the venue, and really balances subtle flavours with more rich and tasteful elements. It can be a bit pricey depending on what you're ordering and how many people you're dining with, but I tell you that you'll have an experience worth every dollar paid and more.


Service: 7.5/10
Ambiance: 8/10
Food: 19/20

Worth Visiting? many delicious dishes. Easy, classy shared dining.
Price: $$$ (You're looking at servings from $7 per piece to dishes priced $12-$68. You'll need to order a few dishes to fill up, but it's great for trying all the different options.)

Cumulus Up on Urbanspoon

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