Time Out Melbourne

Find cloudy-but-fine dining in Flinders Lane

Andrew McConnell once did work experience in a hair salon. He asked us not to tell anyone, but we just can’t imagine what Melbourne dining would be like if the man responsible for Three One Two (RIP), Cumulus Inc, Cutler and Co, Cumulus Up and now Golden Fields had gone all Vidal Sassoon on us. All eyes have been on the ’Fields lately, but with the pending release of a Cumulus cookbook, we decided to go back and see if all is still well in Flinders Lane.

To McConnell, Cumulus is the sort of place where he likes to hang out, serving the sort of food that he loves to eat. Which incidentally, is pretty simple stuff. But don’t let that fool you.

The beauty of Cumulus is in its restraint - the décor is minimal, letting the natural light and the food on the plate do the work. Oysters are left to rely on their natural charms save for a cheek of lemon, and a bites menu lists unembellished bowls of olives and a straight-up tin of Ortez anchovies (the rockstar of cured fish). It was going to be a lunch and dinner affair only, but upon seeing the beauty of the lofty space in the morning, he decided to go all day long, offering one of the finest breakfasts in town – we’re talking smoky sardines with slow-poached eggs - and damn decent espressos.

The service is intuitive, thanks to a crack team of staff lead by Jaden Ong, who always allows the diner to dictate the pace. To do the menu justice, we recommend rolling four deep so you can try everything. From the lengthy charcuterie section, see McConnell’s mastery of balance at work as he packs hot, sweet, smoky and fatty notes into paper thin slivers of smoked wagyu tongue garnished with naught but a few bitter leaves. Simple. Perfect. Bright florets of new season broccoli arrive topped with a soft boiled egg replete with sunset yellow yolk, crisped up with buttery bread crumbs, and sweet, salty Ortiz anchovies. The salt and the creamy yolk turn a simple vegetable dish into a main event, for you to chop and mix to your hearts desire. A bowl of sweet yabbies comes out utensil free. Here folks, is why we have opposable thumbs. Charred and covered in parsley, lemon and a drizzle of aioli, you’re left with no option but to crack and crunch your way through to the super-sweet flesh, hands and teeth first. You can keep lobster. We’re all about these underrated river dwellers. With fingers thusly oiled, it’s tempting to give the whole roasted baby chicken the same hands-on treatment. The small bird with crisp skin covering unbelievably juicy meat is a winner as is, but drag it through the vibrant toasted almond and parsley sauce and it really starts to sing.

Overwhelmed? Stay strong, there’s still dessert. A bar of malt parfait (aka set ice cream) has a burnt sugar edge that plays off against savoury spelt crumbs. Topped with a spoon of bitter soft chocolate mousse and a reviving smack of passionfruit, it’s creamy, crunchy, cold, tart, sweet and savoury – classic McConnell.

And that’s what we love about Cumulus. You can come for just a coffee, or a beer, and wind up with some of the finest cooking Melbourne has to offer. All without feeling like you should have dressed up more. Four years on, Cumulus still gets us excited, and as long as McConnell never says die, Cumulus never will.

Updated on 1 Apr 2015.

By Gemima Cody   |   Photos by Graham Denholm

Cumulus Inc details

45 Flinders Ln, Melbourne 3000

Telephone 03 9650 1445

Nearby Stations: Flinders St

Price per person including drinks $51 to $100

Open Mon-Fri 7am-11pm; Sat-Sun 8am-11pm

Cumulus Inc website

Cumulus Inc map

Report a problem with this page

Restaurants and bars nearby

Tom Thumb

65m - Tom Thumb is the brand new hole-in-the-wall espresso bar uniting the...

The Fair Trader

85m - The Fair Trader is buzzing at lunchtimes with options ranging from healthy...

Cumulus Up

87m - So Andrew McConnell has opened a wine bar, and it’s amazing. Which will...

More restaurants and bars nearby

Other venues nearby


The uphill slog to the posh end of Flinders Lane is rewarded with a descent...


79m - The best bookstore for architecture, urban design and landscape books.

Arc One Gallery

87m - Situated in Melbourne's arty Flinders Lane, Arc One exhibits Australian and...

Craft Victoria

119m - Craft Victoria celebrates Australian craft and design at state, national and...

More venues nearby
Petit Piknic

Petit Piknic

Melbourne's got the most fun, family-friendly Sunday session at Piknic Electronik

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus

Get the Time Out weekend planner. Straight to your inbox, every Thursday.
Read more