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It’s All About The Tapas

Travelling on an almost weekly basis might mean no time in my own kitchen but it does allow me to sample the delights of other kitchens. I also get to break my own rule of ‘I don’t go to restaurants that don’t take bookings and require you to queue’ as most places can readily accommodate a solo diner, without the need to wait.
‘It’s all about Tapas’ I thought as I perused the menu at Cumulus Inc – a hot ticket in the Melbourne dining scene where a Tapas Bar seems to have sprung up on every corner. I had been seated at the bar, enjoying a pre dinner Manzanilla (that’s Dry Sherry to you) whilst I made my choices.
With a Spanish leaning, the selection of reasonably priced Tapas, Charcuterie, Salads and Mains were decidedly carnivore focused – herbivores would need to stick to the wide variety of Salads as there is nothing otherwise suitable (why is it that all the vegetarians seem to drift towards me?). A small plate of Slow Cooked Octopus with Dehydrated Olive to start was right in size, taste and temperature with the fleck of chilli on each piece providing the perfect zing. Vegetarians look away now….my main of ‘Silk Purse for a Sow’s Ear’ was a plate of half a dozen perfectly cooked crispy pig(let)s ears in a crunchy polenta style coating. These were filled with tasty stuffing and finished off with a piquant green sauce with finely chopped capers and gherkins discernible in the mix. Presentation of both dishes were excellent – so good in fact that people beside me asked what I was eating and promptly ordered it for themselves.
I wasn’t staying for dessert but a change of dining location after my entrée (re-located upon my consent to the bar overlooking the kitchen) meant I had a prime view of the action. The kitchen was hectic but everyone worked calmly at their station, there were some smiles and jokes and definitely no histrionics. At times, Chefs served people their meal at the bar and took the time to explain the meal and how it was presented. It was hugely diverting and enough reason to stay for a delicious dessert – Pain d’Epices Ice-cream (think Gingerbread) and Poached Quince. Both my waiters were friendly and attentive, without being intrusive as well as, making sure I did not disappear into the background (as solo diners often do).
white plate with two madeleine cakes sitting on a dollop of lemon butter
Portions are generous and this is definitely a place to share plates, if you’re prepared to queue for a table. It’s actually not about the Tapas at Cumulus Inc, it’s about the Tapas and the Service. I might even go back and try it again – but won’t queue!
Cumulus Inc
45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
(03) 9650 1445 no bookings

Visited: Monday 27 April 09 – Dinner Service

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