Saturday night dining at Cumulus

My Bit O’ Meat is a kind lad. It was his father’s birthday recently so he wanted to treat both father and his stepmother to a really lovely meal out in the city. But where to go? Everywhere we were all initially keen on was booked out, so we had a shot at this ‘no bookings for fewer than x‘ caper and tried to hit up Cumulus in Flinders Lane in the city.

chefs at work

To say it was packed was an understatement. We put our names at the door and tried to find elsewhere. Mamasita had a line all the way down the stairs so we drank some poor examples of cocktails at Terra Rossa (my Long Island Iced Tea neither looked the colour of iced tea nor tasted alcoholic. Never again!) and waited. Over an hour later, and we’re in Cumulus and I have a Tom Collins in my hand – a distinct improvement on Terra Rossa’s cocktail ‘renditions’.

Communal dining is definitely the order of the day at this place. Everything we ordered was shareable except perhaps the nettle and scallop soup though the two of us that ordered it shared it with our other halves. It comes in a large glass tumbler which you drink it out of. My first time eating nettles – I’d only just learnt that they were edible. Chef Andrew McConnell shares his recipe for it on Broadsheet if you fancy trying to make it at home!

nettle soup, hervey bay scallop

S chose the crispy school prawns which were just divine in their light batter and hint of chilli. The prawns are so young that you can eat their shells. Amazing!

crispy school prawns sautéed with chilli and garlic

T chose a dish him and I had had the pleasure of enjoying at Cutler & Co. that he thought his parents would love – the slow cooked octopus with aioli and dehydrated olive. Such pleasing morsels. Don’t be shy to mop up the remaining oil with your choice or rye or sourdough bread either…I wasn’t!

slow cooked octopus with aioli, dehydrated olive

Not quite onto mains proper, we moved up to bigger shareable things – the first of which was foie gras parfait with toasted brioche.

foie gras parfait with toasted brioche

Someone I know who works in the hospitality industry has told me that at Cutler & Co. (and thus also at Cumulus), they use very little foie gras in their dishes which contain them. Interestingly enough, this doesn’t really dampen my enjoyment of such dishes.

The next dish chosen was the pressed chicken terrine with English cream dressing and breakfast radishes. The dressing was delightful and complemented the terrine wonderfully with its crunch and sourness.

pressed chicken terrine, english creamdressing & breakfast radishes

Onto my absolute favourite dish of the evening – the tuna tartare with a crushed pea salad. I could eat this as a main all by itself, by myself! Dishes like this ensure I could never, ever give up seafood. The accompanying peas could also probably cure you of your childhood hatred for them.

tuna tartare with crushed green pea salad

Finally, we’re at the main – the humble roast: a whole roast lamb shoulder to share. Given the amount of dishes we’d had previously, I’d say this could easily feed six people or an extremely ravenous quartet. Thankfully the lads on the table were roast smashers. S said this was the best roast she’d ever had in her life!

T and I had successfully rationed our glasses of the Romante ‘Regente’ palo cortado (again, had at Cutler & Co. and jumped on it as soon as we saw it on the wine list here) up to this point. After consultation with the waiter, we had a glass each of a beautiful lush red whose name escapes me and I cannot find it on the restaurant’s website as they do not list the wines available by the glass.

whole slow roast lamb shoulder to share

Of course we had some sides – the green bean salad with Ortiz anchovies and mustard dressing (which both parentals said was their favourite thing for the whole night), and some new potatoes with confit garlic and lemon.

green bean salad with Ortiz anchovies and mustard dressing

new potatoes, savoury, confit garlic & lemon

Despite being suitably fed by our savoury courses, space was made for dessert. Both S and I had two lemon curd filled madeleines each. You have to be careful how you hold these or the lemon curd will leak out. Both Proust and Freud I’m sure would have a field day with these…

madeleine, filled with lemon curd

T had the mandarin parfait with almond cake and soft chocolate. He let me have a little to taste and I confess that it wasn’t particularly exciting.

mandarin parfait, almond cake and soft chocolate

If I’d had real space, I would have done like the birthday celebrant and ordered cheese for afters – he chose the Spanish bleu des Basques sheep’s milk blue cheese.

bleu des basques sheep's milk blue cheese from spain

Of late both my parents and T’s parents have railed on us for our extravagant, hedonistic food blogger wankster ways (more than fair call!) and after taking one set of the haters to Cumulus, we have partial converts. Cumulus serves special yet approachable dishes and is casual but still retains a sense of finesse in its outfit. Busy as almighty fuck on the nights everyone loves to go out, so be prepared for a wait and don’t expect to go in for a traditional three-course à la carte experience – orders loads of dishes and share with your fellow diners, it’s fabulous fun.

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6 thoughts on “Saturday night dining at Cumulus

  1. Ashley

    Mmm, I absolutely love the shrimp and the tuna salad! They’re looking tasty as ever! Haven’t ventured to try the lamb shoulder yet…the size of it is quite daunting, but sounds delicious!

    1. Gem

      The lamb shoulder is crazy-big! I kept having to shovel lamb put onto my plate to my partner’s – good thing the lads had hearty appetites for the roast.

      Yeah, those school prawns and the tuna tartare were so simple but divine. I said the same thing about Cutler & Co. but I really want to hit up either of these joints and go nuts on some oysters and more seafood, yum.

  2. jenni

    wow not a good idea reading this at 12.30am with no dinner consumed. I esp love green bean salad with Ortiz anchovies which I actually develop a craving. I also love their mussels… cook to perfection!

    1. gem Post author

      Hi Jenni, yeah, the parents really seemed to love that green bean salad – the anchovies in it was delicious. Haven’t tried their mussels but was eyeing them off as we waited for a table!

  3. Simon Food Favourites

    those crispy school prawns were so good last time i went here. would definitely order again. i didn’t have a chance to have the lamb because only dining for 2 but hopefully next time. 🙂


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