I'd wanted to pop in to Cumulus Inc since reading their wonderful review in the Age Good Food Guide. Also I'd pressed my nose up to the glass many times; the unassuming, casual interior, bare floors and a kitchen that you can observe from your table all get a big tick in my book.
How fortuitous then, to be attending a work function yesterday nearby. How even more fortuitous for my friend and colleague G to have a coughing fit in the middle of someone else's presentation, causing her to hastily leave the venue and find a quiet spot to grab some water, check email, and wait for me to emerge from Spring Street.
Neither of us had eaten; and being Friday after a difficult and exhausting week at work, we decided to treat ourselves to a light, late lunch.
I was initially dismayed to see that over half the options on the menu were immediately out for me; smoked fish featured highly, along with a whole section dedicated solely to cured assorted meats, another for oysters. Damn - I almost cracked, it all looked so delicious. But instead we asked our very friendly and accommodating waiter for help. We decided to share three entrees, and nibble on some of their amazing sourdough breads.
While we waited, we talked 'shop' and went over the weeks events over a lemon soda and soda, lime and bitters. Both delicious.
We started with slow cooked octopus with aioli and "dehydrated olive". It came out thinly sliced and sitting on some wonderful olive oil and balsamic. The presentation was incredible. There was also a tiny thin slice of green chilli and shred of basil atop each one, and the flavour combo, almost indescribable. Clean-tasting, a bit like sushi, the chilli giving off just a little heat but definitely not overpowering. How pretty!
Next, was some of the most delicious, out of this world, soft shell mud crab I have ever eaten. I always order this if it's on the menu, but I think my palate has now been well and truly spoiled. It came with a golden coloured sauce - if I had to guess, I'd say some sort of roasted capsicum aioli. It was truly amazing, the crab had a lovely crispy crunch, but inside it was juicy and soft. I think there was some sort of salt and pepper seasoning on the outside. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Lastly - on the waiter's assurance that we'd love it - we had the smoked corn and mussel chowder. Happy to accommodate our "sharing" preference, the kitchen split it between two glasses. It was sweet/salty, the mussels were thinly sliced so they weren't overpowering, and it looked like there was maybe a tiny bit of truffle oil sprinkled over the top.
My i-Phone pictures don't exactly do the experience justice, but it was truly lovely. And at less than $25 each including drinks (okay they were soft drinks but still), it was an absolute steal as far as fine dining goes.
The slow-cooked whole lamb shoulder begged me to come back for dinner sometime soon.