It's barely 10am but we just manage to score one of the last remaining tables at Cumulus Inc, the casual cafe bar restaurant by Cutler & Co's Andrew O'Connell. The room is bright and airy, warm with the chatter of breakfast diners and the constant hum of the coffee machine. A dark bar counter runs against the window side of the room; on the other side is the marble white counter of the open kitchen.
Single Origin coffee $4.20
The floor is busy but we manage to place our orders reasonably quickly. Our drinks arrive shortly afterwards, Single Origin coffees that are aromatic and robust.
Toast and spreads, jams and preserves $8.80
The menu had required some thoughtful deliberation, littered with temptations like house smoked sardines, parsley salad and slow-cooked egg ($16.50); and the Reuben sandwich with pastrami, Swiss cheese and pickle ($16.50). Every second table seems to be sporting a trio of jams, the jars as brightly coloured as jewels. It's a popular option for newspaper-reading diners, the jam slathered generously on thick slices of toast between each turn of the page.
Chefs in the kitchen
The open kitchen provides a glimpse of all the cooking action, and in fact we regret not scoring a seat at the counter overlooking the preparation bench. The brigade is young and jovial, with more tattoos present than a season 6 episode of Top Chef.
Grilled Lyonnaise sausage, smoked hock, braised beans and 65/65 egg $19.80
It was the promise of the 65/65 egg that prompted Minh and I to each order the grilled Lyonnaise sausage. Admittedly, I'd expected a different dish altogether, envisioning a traditional cooked breakfast with separate components. Instead it arrives as a hearty mishmash of braised beans mixed with hidden chunks of seared sausage and tender smoky shreds of pork hock.
The 65/65 egg is the highlight of course, and we pierce the egg white to release a viscous flow of rich egg yolk, the colour of the late afternoon sun. It's wonderfully gooey, a result of cooking the egg at 65C for 65 minutes which results in a firm egg white but runny yolk.
The shakshouka, ordered by Suze, arrives in a heavy cast iron pan, a huddle of baked eggs scattered with marinated Persian fetta. Roasted peppers add sweetness, and the fetta is a perfect foil for the acidity of the whole cooked tomatoes buried beneath. There's an interesting mix of spices present, and Minh and I both swoop on this dish shamelessly.
I'm reluctant to leave, but there's a queue out the door and more of Melbourne awaits. The clock is ticking and we have more eating to do.
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8/19/2011 08:15:00 am