Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cumulus Inc (Melbourne) 10/2010

It's rare these days that we leave a restaurant astonished at the quality of the meal that we have just been served but it has happened several times recently. Most recently it was at Cumulus Inc. This is a restaurant that we have wanted to visit or along time but avoided because of their no reservation policy. Today we were in town and had time. Fortunately we arrived at a quiet moment and got a table immediately. The restaurant occupies a large room. They have a bar along one side and an open kitchen on the other with tables at the end of the room and in between. Now that we were here we wanted to get a taste of a good range of dishes. We started sharing a globe artichoke soup with fresh spanner crab ($10). Presented in a glass it didn’t look impressive which goes to support that cliché that you can’t judge a book by its cover. It was a fine combination tastes with a touch of acidity which still allowed us to experience the delicate flavour of the crab. Definitely produced by a chef with a fine palate. The next entrée, a foie gras parfait, ($17), was to die for.

Almost creamy with superb texture and fine taste no diner interested in food should fail to have this dish. It came with lightly toasted brioche, little raisins with a touch of sweet sauce and tiny sprigs of attractive greens. incidentally the two breads they served, a sourdough and a slightly sweet corn bread could not have been better. We then had another remarkably good entrée, a carpachio of Wagyu (their spelling) tongue, ($17), with small pieces of mustard fruit.
These almost see through slices of tongue delivered a fine taste which was well balanced with the sweet mustard fruit. A warm spicy cauliflower side dish, ($15)
with pomegranite seeds and a little goats curd had enough chili for some bite without destroying our palate for the next dish, The whole grilled flounder, ($38), proved to be headless
but lacked in no other respect. Lightly cooked in a gentle slightly lemony sauce it had that specially succulent taste and texture of fish caught that morning. A special, not on the menu, pork belly with a nutty shredded cabbage salad, ($26)
left me deficient in adjectives for an adequate description. The pork was tender whilst the crackling was crunchy without threatening to send you for dental repairs. The salad a nice counterfoil, would have been acceptable as a side dish on its own merit. Finally a mandarin parfait with a rich chocolate and an almond cake was the nicest way of enjoying a few extra calories. Each element offered a distinct but not dominating variation in taste and texture. The chocolate was especially rich and creamy, the parfait cool and citrusy, the almond cake less sweet than marzipan.

There is a reasonable range of wines by the glass mostly ranging from about $9 to $17

This was a meal with a huge ‘wow’ factor. Each dish displayed a talent for balancing tastes and combining ingredients to producing varying textures in attractive presentations. It seemed that a meal like that deserved a much more appropriate environment than the crowded, noisy bare tables at which they are currently served. We were sorry to see most diners apparently so preoccupied with their conversations that they seemed to be eating with scant regard for what was on their plates. There are a lot of other interesting dishes on the menu so it's worth more than another visit.

Score:18 /20

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