Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cumulus Inc, Melbourne CBD by Big Fil

Its name might be light and airy but the centrepiece of our lunch at Cumulus Inc was something much heavier and earthier, a whole roast shoulder of lamb. Combined with great soft shelled crab and excellent octopus for starters, and a light and fresh cracked wheat and freekah salad for balance, the only disappointing dish for the day were the merely good roast potatoes.

When you enter the set up initially feels deceptively casual, with its industrial chic styling and chatty wait staff. However, it quickly became apparent that staff have struck a good balance, professional and friendly rather than overly casual. The style of the menu is slightly unusual, with dishes designed to be shared and varying between smaller and more tapas in style to our much larger roast. And with a general no-booking policy unless you are prepared to wait it pays to visit at slightly unusual hours.

Having done a bit of reading to find out what other people had enjoyed here, and with one of the cats having tried here a couple of times before, the grilled octopus and the crab seem to be the most popular of the smaller dishes. And while not having tried anything of the others I can’t make any comparisons but can confirm both were very good. The octopus was delicate in flavour and tender in texture. While some have indicated that they found it too spicy I didn’t find it that way at all.

The soft shell crab came with the sauce in a cute little yin-yang, and some lettuce cubs for wrapping the crab in. I love soft shell crab but two things can kill it for me, if it’s overly oily or if the batter is too strongly flavoured and overpowers the delicate flavour of the crab. Absolutely no problems with either of these things here at all. While I might have a slightly larger serve for the price some of the best soft shell crab I’ve had.

The main feature of the meal though was the slow roasted lamb shoulder. Served with tongs and an almost superfluous knife, the meat was tender enough that grasping it with the tongs you could just pull it away from the bone. I’m always a little apprehensive ordering lamb when dining with Asian friends, particularly those born in south-east Asia. Lamb is just about my favourite meat out there but there is something about the taste and smell which they often dislike. However, no problems here with the meat having none of the strong flavour and odour you sometimes get (which I am not sure if it comes from slightly older lambs or the way it has been cooked).

The lamb was beautifully complimented by the salad which was light and refreshing with great texture, something you don’t always associate with salads. Fresh and crunchy with a slight tang to cut through any fattiness from the meat, I am usually a vegetables man with my roast but this balanced the meat perfectly.

The only slight disappointment, the roast potatoes. Served with the skins still on, I was hoping for little crispy golden nuggets but these didn’t have the crunch I was looking for. They also lead to the only hiccup in service for the day, although it was a kind of important one. The timing of the octopus and crab was good, with the crab coming out minutes after we had finished with the octopus. However, while our idea was that the other three dishes would be eaten together and the salad and lamb came out simultaneously, the potato only arrived just as we were finishing the lamb and then only after a reminder and an apology from our server.

I can understand why Cumulus Inc is so popular, with four excellent dishes and the potato which only disappointed in comparison to the rest of the meal. With the one hiccup service was very good and even sitting in the middle of the room at no stage did it feel like we were crowded by any of the other tables. Even the prices, which admittedly are higher than at most of the places I’d regularly frequent, seemed fair value for money considering our meal as a whole. I don’t normally get excited by roasts at restaurants, preferring to order things which I can’t make a pretty good fist of at home, but this was the best I’ve had in a long time. And all the cats were pleasantly purring as we left.

Food – 9
Service – 7.5
Ambience – 8
Price – 7.5

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

Cumulus Inc. on Urbanspoon


Bureaucrat said...

all the dishes sound and look great - but what an odd menu. it seems likely sunday lunch, with tapas thrown into it.

Anonymous said...

Thats what its like, dealing with the cats :-)


ming said...

OMNOMNOM that looks delicious! How much food would you recommend, on top of the lamb shoulder, for three hungry blokes and one food blogging girl?

Anonymous said...

Hey B. Yes, we kind of ordered the dishes we wanted to try rather than there being any coherent theme to the meal.

And Ming I'd recommend a couple of dishes to go with the lamb, and then 2 or 3 others to try.


Bissy B said...

Awesome blog!, am following you follow me at


Bureaucrat said...

thanks Bissy! =)

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