Dining Date: May 2010 2010
Rating: 57th, 1 Star
Chef: Andrew McConnell and Josh Murphy
Location: 45 Flinders La, Melbourne, VIC (03) 9650 1445
It seems that every time we go to a McConnell restaurant we’re doomed to showing up late. When we ventured along to Bar Lourinha we showed up more than 45 minutes late due to traffic. Meeting up for dinner at Cumulus Inc with Agnes, Alastair and Pat from Off the Spork was a little better with us showing up about 30 minutes late. I’m starting to think I have some sort of McConnell curse. Luckily, while patiently waiting for us to show up the guys had decided on what to order. So the food arrived shortly afterwards.
Just a word of warning, actually a big word of warning. I was rushed, flustered and my camera lens was on a very quick trip to dying, so my photos are INCREDIBLY bad. I seriously contemplated not posting about Cumulus, but the meal was so good that I hope my description will over shadow the very blurry photos. By the way, my lens finally packed it in while on holiday not long ago.
We ordered a couple of dishes to share, Slow cooked octopus with aioli, dehydrated olive. The octopus was so tender, it simply dissolved away in your mouth. I particularly remember the pungent olive oil. Wish we had ordered 2 serves of this dish.
Crispy school prawns sautéed with chilli and garlic. I promise you that the prawns did not look so blurry in real life. They were crispy and full of prawn flavour. The chilli offered no heat, only a subtle flavour and the whole lot had an underlying lemon flavour which refreshed the dish and lifted it to another dimension. I could imagine eating a massive serve of these and washing them down with ice cold beer. Once again, I wish we had ordered 2 serves of this. On a side note, one great thing about misdirected focal points, check out Alastair’s t-shirt! I didn’t notice it on the night, but he has one awesome milk t-shirt!
Foie gras parfait with toasted brioche. The parfait was fluffy, silky and slightly salty. It was just perfect matched with the sweet raisins. A bit of a failure for me was the brioche, firstly the brioche was not buttery enough for me. If I’m going to eat it, I want to at least feel the arteries in my heart hardening, instead it tasted like regular toast. Secondly, there wasn’t enough bread to parfait ratio. I’m so sick of this happening, there always seems to be a miscalculation when bread/crackers/crisps are concerned. I think I’m going to write to our new prime minister and see if she can address the problem, she looks like she enjoys her crackers and cheese.
Grass fed steak tartare. This was just awesome! The ingredient list was like any other steak tartare - capers, gherkins, onions, chives and an egg yolk, but some how it was completely different. The meat was low on fat, a real bonus when eating it raw, and it was served with traditional sauces and anchovy oil (see Agnes’ post for a photo). I felt a bit like Doctor Zoidberg for minute, totally imagining sucking the entire bottle down in a split second, until I realised the tartare tasted better without the oil. It added a salty dimension without the fishy aftertaste, but the original dish, with no condiments was best.
For the main we decided to order the Whole slow roast lamb shoulder to share. The lamb was so tender and juicy, I still have dreams about it to this day. Most people dream about winning lotto or running away with Fabio, not me.....unless Fabio is holding a massive tray of this slow cooked lamb. The outer fat was crispy, the whole shoulder was covered in a generous helping of salt, when you got a mouthful of that salt it was just delicious. The lamb came with a red onion salad and some lemon. I strongly recommend ordering the lamb and squeezing a generous amount of lemon on top....just perfection!!
As a side we ordered Cracked wheat & freekeh salad, preserved lemon, blueberries. This salad was perfect to go with the meaty and rich lamb. I enjoyed the dried blueberries throughout the salad, but especially loved the generous amount of sour cream on top.
For dessert I ordered the Pear sorbet, burnt butter shortbread & almond milk. I sadly forgot to take a photo of it. But once again, Agnes was on the ball and has a great photo of the stunning dessert. This has to be one of the better desserts I’ve had in a long time. The pear sorbet was so fluffy, not an icicle in sight! Perfectly cut pear pieces. Who would have thought that the combination of burnt butter shortbread biscuits and almond milk custard or panacotta or whatever it was would go together so well. Everyone always talks about texture in dishes, and this totally delivered on texture. The crunchy biscuit, the soft and melting sorbet, the slightly crunchy pear cubes and the pudding like almond milk. I would love to make this very dish at home!
Pat ordered the Steamed chocolate pudding with hazelnut toffee & crème fraiche ice cream. I managed to sneak a tiny bit of this one, so chocolaty and totally sexy with its oozing centre. Pat seemed to really enjoy it!
Daz ordered a selection of petit fours, Rose Jelly, Chocolate caramel truffle and Chocolate fudge. Sadly they weren’t that impressive, just you’re regular everyday petit fours. I tried to convince Daz not to order them, but he has a habit of being bitterly disappointed at the end of a meal, case in point - ordering a cheese platter at Cutler and Co expecting a cheese cake to arrive instead.
To finish the meal we ordered Madeleine filled with lemon curd each. How does an entire meal get wiped from your memory? Ordering one of these. By far my favourite thing on the night, but I’ve always had a sweet tooth. These are specially cooked to order, they arrive at the table piping hot. Since the cake is fresh out of the oven the lemon curd quickly warms up, so your mouth is bombarded with zesty warm goodness. My fantasy, order a dozen of these and suck the warm curd out of them. Creepy huh?
Cumulus was a real highlight. I really enjoyed all the dishes. I had little to no expectations of the place, and I think that helped. When we went to Cutler and Co I had high expectations and sadly the experience just did not live up to them. I’ll definitely be returning to Cumulus Inc.