Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Melbourne Eating: Cumulus Inc

 Another day in Melbourne, another meal at a hip restaurant. So, how does breakfast at Cumulus Inc stack up?

Cumulus Inc is part of chef Andrew McConnell's mini empire (including Cutler and Co in Fitzroy). It has a 'no bookings' policy in keeping with the treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen philosophy of so many popular restaurants.  I was keen to try Cumulus Inc, so rather than risk missing out on a table (or worse still, have to wait), we decided to give it a go at breakfast.

When we turned up just after 10am, the morning rush was in full swing. Cumulus Inc is a popular coffee spot for local office workers, and also for yummy mummies with prams and babies in tow.  We were lucky to score seats at the kitchen counter, where we could see staff preparing food for later in the day.

The waitstaff were a bit all over the place: after sitting down, we had to flag someone down for a menu, then had to wave over someone else to order.  The breakfast menu is extensive, with muesli, toast, sardines, baked eggs, sandwiches and even a watermelon salad with mint and yoghurt on offer.

We ordered the Full English ($18) - slab bacon, blood sausage on toast, fried eggs and smoked tomato, and a long black ($3.50).
Also, the Cumulus Inc Breakfast ($16) - boiled egg, toast, preserves, yoghurt, orange juice and tea or coffee.  There was some confusion with the tea which was originally delivered without milk. But when I poured it into the cup, it turned out to be mint tea instead of the English Breakfast I'd asked for. So it had to be replaced (with a bit of huffing and eye-rolling from the waitress!).
The food was fantastic, with the farmhouse slab bacon of a decent size.  I love a soft-boiled egg for brekkie, and this one was spot-on: perfectly cooked and great for dipping in the toast.  The toast comes with a range of 3 preserves, raspberry, orange and strawberry. The raspberry was my favourite, tart and sweet and sharp.

My main criticism was that the food took over 30 minutes to arrive.  While there were heaps of staff looking busy behind the counter, it looked like only one was doing the short order breakfasts.  Everyone else seemed to be making biscotti or buttering and flouring dariole moulds, or mixing eggwhites for the cakes and friands.
Because we were there for over an hour, they were setting up for lunch when we called for the bill.

The Vibe: Cumulus Inc seems like the place to be seen.  I wasn't too impressed with the service we had, and the staff appeared inexperienced. The breakfast food, though, was very good, when we eventually got it.

Cumulus Inc is at 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Vic.
Breakfast is from 7am (Mon-Fri) and 8am (Sat-Sun).
No bookings.
Cumulus Inc. on Urbanspoon

After, we had planned to go to Bridge Road for some discount shopping, but the skies were grey with rain. So we walked over to Crown Casino instead.  The brown Yarra river looked ominously dark...
We also passed by a building behind Crown, with a wondrous display of golden bees hiving up the exterior. A queen and her drones.  Does anyone know why they are there, and what they mean? They are quite intricate and lovely.
Onto the Casino, where I threw away my customary $5 on a poker machine (what a waste of time and money).  I spent the same amount on some gelato in the Casino food court: lemon and chocolate, very nice. If I had another $5 to throw away, it will definitely be on some more icy gelato refreshment!

Dinner tonight was going to be early, at Coda, so I didn't want to fill myself up.  That meal, next, on Ooh, Look... Don't change the channel!


  1. What a shame, I found the service to be really good when we went a couple of times but I guess this was a while ago, and every day is going to be different!

    No idea why those bees are there but I wouldn't mind having some attached to the side of my building (might scare the damn blowflies away).

  2. Oh no she didn't roll here eyes (smile)! I'm in the service industry and that is not okay, nor is it 'service'. Maybe the staff thing will be worked out soon. Sometimes it takes time to establish a good team...
    Glad the food what good though-that's nice;)

  3. I'm loving these Melbourne posts since I'm heading there next month so it's nice to see what you recommend! Cumulus Inc is on my list of go-to places as well, great to see that the food lives up to to the hype but shame about the service.

  4. Ahh the good old eye-rolling from service staff. You gotta love it. Sadly I can deal with eye-rolling in cafe's, just not prams and kids.

    The "Queen Bee" scuplture on Eureka Tower is nothing more than public art commissioned by the architect. The gold on the bees is meant to reflect the gold apex on top of the tower.

  5. When staff can't even bother to not roll their eyes, then that is a hint that I should never come back again. No matter how good the food is. Sigh.

  6. Oh dear at the eye-rolling! I've been served the wrong tea before - if the place appears to have decent service, I'll ask for a swap. If the staff look like they loaded on attitude then I'll just sit there and quietly drink what I've been given.

  7. Whoa, an eye roll? That is so not on! I'm glad you enjoyed the food at least!

  8. hello,
    Nice blog about melbourne eating and drinks thanks for this information.