Melbourne

Cumulus Inc, Melbourne

When I asked a friend and fellow food blogger ‘Where should I feast during a weekend in Melbourne?’, I had high hopes. High hopes that she’d fill me in on the latest openings since my last visit. But surprisingly her tips largely focused on long standing Melbourne bars and restaurants – such as  City Wine Shop and Bomba for drinks, and The European for dinner. She also said a leisurely breakfast at Cumulus Inc is a must.

Cumulus Inc, Melbourne, cafe, restaurant, CBD, lunch, dinner, breakfast, Flinders Lane, review

My last visit to Cumulus Inc a few years ago was for pre-dinner drinks so I didn’t need much convincing to return. There are not many places you can enjoy a breakfast designed and prepared by a team that’s a earned a Chefs Hat every year since 2010. An, as you’ll see from the urbanspoon link below Cumulus Inc has clocked up almost 5,000 reviews – a true reflection of it’s popularity with discerning fans of feasting.

Before I showcase some of the food here’s a little more about Cumulus Inc.

Cumulus Inc is no new kid on the block – it opened in 2008, set up and co-owned by acclaimed chef Andrew McConnell. The interior was designed by his business partner and wife Pascale Gomes-McNabb. I think one of the many reasons Cumulus Inc continues to be successful is the versatility it offers – this is where the ‘Eating House & Bar’ part of its name really comes into play. Theres no need to rock up and order an entree and main. Instead go for a pre diner drinks and a charcuterie plate, or a coffee at the bar, a take-away pastry or simply to feast on the outstanding full lamb shoulder.

Cumulus Inc, Melbourne, cafe, restaurant, CBD, lunch, dinner, breakfast, Flinders Lane, review
There’s a bar on both sides of the room. One is the real bar where wines are poured and cocktails are shaken in front of large industrial windows that face onto Flinders Lane. On the other side a long white marble counter overlooks the open kitchen.
Cumulus Inc, Melbourne, cafe, restaurant, CBD, lunch, dinner, breakfast, Flinders Lane, review
As we took our seats at the counter I was immediately in awe of the team of chefs frantically whipping up the endless stream of breakfast orders without working up a stress. If you’re ever keen to watch over a finely tuned kitchen then do so here at Cumulus Inc – it’s about as close to the action as you’ll get without having to lift a finger yourself. The added bonus? You get to watch a few finished dishes before ordering – so there’s no excuse for breakfast envy.
Cumulus Inc, Melbourne, cafe, restaurant, CBD, lunch, dinner, breakfast, Flinders Lane, review

Although breakfast is served until 11.30am don’t expect to squeeze in at 11.20am – there’s usually a queue so it’s best to arrive by 11am to be sure you’ll get seated in time. Once you’re comfy order a single origin house blend organic and fair trade coffee while browsing the breakfast delights on offer.

The breakfast menu spans all of the usual suspects – eggs, salmon, bacon, mushrooms and sausage. But at Cumulus each dish is cleverly put together to make these everyday ingredients extraordinary. I’m talking grilled sausage, smoked hock, braised beans and a 65/65 egg. Or mushrooms on toast with parmesan and a 65/65 egg. What’s a 65/65 egg? I’ll come to that a little later. And if you really are looking for an all round everything included dish then you can’t beat the Cumulus Inc breakfast for $16 – boiled egg, toast, preserves, yoghurt, organic orange juice and coffee or tea.

Cumulus Inc, Melbourne, cafe, restaurant, CBD, lunch, dinner, breakfast, Flinders Lane, review

Chances are you’ll try the toast. Now I don’t eat bread daily so when I do I’ll happily admit to being a bread snob. With so many amazing varieties now readily available I can’t understand cafes that serve anything that resembles a loaf you’ll find in a supermarket. If you share my love of good bread then note that although the Cumulus Inc menu simply reads as ‘toast’ rest assured the bread is good.

Here are the two dishes we enjoyed:

Cumulus Inc, Melbourne, cafe, restaurant, CBD, lunch, dinner, breakfast, Flinders Lane, review
Shakshouka – baked eggs with roasted pepper and shanklish ($17)
Rather than me going into detail on just how good the shakshouka is was I decided to share the before and after shots. As you can see from the licked clean plate it’s a winner. And don’t read into this that the serving is small – on the contrary it’s generous as the pan is the size of a small frying pan.
Cumulus Inc, Melbourne, cafe, restaurant, CBD, lunch, dinner, breakfast, Flinders Lane, review
Shakshouka – I could almost have managed a second helping
Cumulus Inc, Melbourne, cafe, restaurant, CBD, lunch, dinner, breakfast, Flinders Lane, review
Smoked salmon, buckwheat waffle, horseradish and sorrel ($17)

The waffle with smoked salmon and other trimmings is light and packed with flavour. It didn’t appear to be flying out of the kitchen like some of the other dishes but chances are that’s because it sounds and looks almost too healthy. If you are happy to give the toast and eggs a miss then this is a great choice.

The 65/65 egg

I’ve read that famous chefs, such as Heston Blummenthal, consider this to be the perfect egg. As I learnt from Jill Dupleix in an article on goodfood.com.au it’s an egg “cooked slowly at a very precise temperature (from 60C to 65C) to achieve a high-impact result: a shimmering, silky orb of creamy egg white surrounding a rich, softly liquid egg yolk.” As I sat at Cumulus Inc peering noisily over the counter I could see lots of little eggs bubbling away in an immersion bath. Next time maybe I’ll try one.

By Feast Wisely

Tips

  • Groups of between 7 and 14 can book in advance. But for smaller groups of less than 7 it’s wise to arrive early or later if you’d prefer not to wait as long for a table.
  • Private functions, parties and events are catered for by Cumulus Inc at Arc One Gallery which sits in the space directly above.
  • And there’s a wine bar, Cumulus Up, that’s open daily where you can make a reservation for up to 15 guests.
  • For something different for breakfast try one of the breakfast dishes that come with a 65/65 egg.

Contact

Cumulus Inc. on Urbanspoon

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