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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Melbourne CBD eats: Cumulus Up, Supernormal, Om Nom, Creperie Le Triskel, Fall from Grace and Gami

Duck waffle with foie gras and prune at Cumulus Up, Melbourne

Trust me. Duck waffle with foie gras and prune is as good as it sounds. The piped rosettes of foie gras parfait might look like icing, but there's an elegant silkiness to its texture, the richness cut through by dabs of prune puree. The waffle is warm and aromatic with crispy edges you can't help but savour. It's not until you cut into the duck waffle that you realise there are shreds of tender duck flesh hidden within the batter, like a reverse sandwich of the fanciest kind.

Dining room at Cumulus Up, Melbourne
Cumulus Up dining room

It's the promise of the famous duck waffle that leads us to Cumulus Up on our whirlwind trip to Melbourne two weekends ago. We only had one mission: to eat as much of Melbourne as we could. We were a group of six. And we had a spreadsheet.

Over the course of three days we managed to eat at 26 different places. It was crazy fun. I won't go into massive detail into everything that we ate, but I will post all our eats grouped by area - that's the way I tend to map my itinerary to maximise efficiency of travel. All of these eats are in Melbourne's CBD and reasonably navigable by foot between each one.

Grilled ox tongue with capers at Cumulus Up, Melbourne
Grilled ox tongue with capers, witlof and beetroot $12

Cumulus Up does take reservations, but because we were only interested in a light series of bar snacks we took our chances with a walk in, making sure to arrive early in the evening. By 6.30pm on a Friday night, they are already full.

Although it's billed as a wine bar, there's quite a substantial menu at Cumulus Up. Andrew McConnell's menu includes everything from fried chickpeas ($4) to charcuterie ($29 for a kitchen selection) to a dry aged 600g rib fillet ($68).

It goes without saying that you have to order the duck waffle ($9 for 1/4 of a waffle). We also had the grilled ox tongue, carved as one elongated sliced and impressively tender.

Spiced lamb rib at Cumulus Up, Melbourne
Spiced lamb rib $4.50 each

We couldn't get enough of the spiced lamb ribs either. The meat has an incredible smokiness that hits you at first bite, and the flesh falls clean off the bone. The fat has rendered right through the meat so it almost collapses with a sigh in your mouth. We bumped into Chocolatesuze and Noods here (coincidentally also in Melbourne that same weekend) and they immediately ordered another round, they were that good.


Supernormal by Andrew McConnell, Melbourne

Supernormal is Andrew McConnell's latest addition to his stable of restaurants. In The Age 2015 Good Food Guide Awards, Supernormal was awarded Best New Restaurant.

Dining at Supernormal in a large group involves a double-edged sword. On the one hand you can make a booking for six of more people. On the other, you have to agree to have a set banquet menu. Groups of five or less have to join the queue, but then you do go to order whatever you like off the menu.

Shiso crazy and apple mojito mocktails at Supernormal, Melbourne
Shiso crazy $8 
and apple mojito $8

The place was packed when we arrived, and even though we arrived on time for our 8.30pm booking we still had to wait about 15 minutes for our table.

The banquet menu is priced at $65 per person. We found it to be a huge amount of food for the price, and struggled toward to finish everything.

Sesame cucumber and pickled vegetables at Supernormal, Melbourne
Sesame cucumber (normally $5 for 2 cucumbers) 
and pickled vegetables (normally $7)

Supernormal might have Japanese katakana script as part of its logo, but the menu reflects Chef McConnell's favourite dishes from his time spent abroad in Shanghai and Hong Kong. It's a strange juxtaposition to use Japanese marketing for Chinese food but the crowd seems to lap it up regardless.

We whet our appetite with pickled cucumbers rolled in sesame seeds, and pickled vegetables that include cauliflower, carrots and shiitake mushrooms.

Sea bream with white soy and ginger at Supernormal, Melbourne
Sea bream, white soy and ginger (normally $16)

I appreciate the sweetness of sea bream, dressed with white soy and draped in crushed nori sheets that add an echo of the sea.

White cut chicken with peanuts, chilli oil and housemade noodles at Supernormal, Melbourne
White cut chicken, peanuts, chilli oil and housemade noodles (normally $16)

The white cut chicken and housemade noodles are drenched in a thick peanut sauce, but it's the generous dusting of Szechuan pepper that will really get your tastebuds going.

New England lobster rolls at Supernormal, Melbourne
New England lobster roll (normally $16 each)

My highlight of the meal (and the main reason for my visit) is the arrival of the New England lobster rolls. The soft and fluffy buns are packed with medallions of lobster tail and picked lobster meat. It's a decadent treat that I want to savour slowly, appreciating the sweet delicacy of the lobster flesh.

Prawn and chicken dumplings at Supernormal, Melbourne
Prawn and chicken dumplings, chilli and vinegar sauce (normally $14 for 6)

We're snapped back to Asia again with prawn and chilli dumplings, draped with a fiery amount of chilli and doused in a black vinegar dressing.

Slow cooked Szechuan lamb at Supernormal, Melbourne
Slow cooked Szechuan lamb, spring onion pancake and coriander paste (normally $37)
with lettuce leaves with ginger vinegar dressing (normally $8)
and steamed white rice (normally $4) 

The slow cooked Szechuan lamb is wisely served at the end of the meal. The thick hunk of lamb has been slow cooked so it's easily pulled apart with two forks.

Spring onion pancake and coriander paste at Supernormal, Melbourne
Spring onion pancake and coriander paste

The lamb comes with all kinds of sides, so you can choose to have it on top of spring onion pancakes with coriander paste, wrapped up in lettuce leaves or radicchio or served on top of plain white rice as you please.

Peanut butter parfait with salted caramel and soft chocolate at Supernormal, Melbourne
Peanut butter parfait with salted caramel and soft chocolate (normally $15)

Dessert is their classic peanut butter parfait with salted caramel and soft chocolate, too rich for some but I loved its Snickers-like flavour profile.

Om Nom Dessert Bar

Swing bench seats at Om Nom Dessert Bar at the Adelphi Hotel, Melbourne
Swing bench seating at Om Nom

Across the road from Supernormal is the Adelphi Hotel. Inside you'll find Om Nom, serving breakfast and dinner but more popularly known as a dessert bar featuring creations by French-trained head chef Christy Tania.

We booked dessert here on the Saturday night. The dining room is only small - set in the lobby lounge of the hotel - and it's predictably filled with a majority of women. Swinging bench seats along one wall add a sense of quirky fun.

Cendol $18
Coconut, mango, gula jawa, jackfruit, pandan

Desserts aren't cheap here. The cendol is the cheapest at $18 but the rest range in price from $25 to $28. You can order a dessert degustation for $49 which gives you the choice of three desserts in tasting size portions. The menu doesn't give too much away, listing only dessert ingredients or flavours.

The cendol is unlike anything you'll find in Malaysia, a modern take on a traditional hawker classic. Here the bowl is made from chocolate, filled with coconut mousse and topped with tiny pieces of jackfruit. The cendol noodles are reintepreted as pandan spheres.

Basil Garden at Om Nom Dessert Bar at the Adelphi Hotel, Melbourne
Basil Garden $25
Dark chocolate, vanilla, olive oil, honey, basil, lime, white chocolate and meringue

The Basil Garden surprised me with its unusual mix of flavours. We break apart its cute flowerpot construction and revel in the combination of dark chocolate, vanilla and white chocolate accented with olive oil, basil and lime.

Mont Blanc at Om Nom Dessert Bar at the Adelphi Hotel, Melbourne
Mont Blanc $28
Meringue, dark chocolate, chestnut, vanilla, blackberry, feuilletine

The Mont Blanc is a picture of sophistication, the chestnut tart enveloped in a cloud of meringue. However there's not a lot of chestnut puree in this dessert, my favourite part of a Mont Blanc.

Smoked Banoffie  at Om Nom Dessert Bar at the Adelphi Hotel, Melbourne
Smoked Banoffie $27
Banana, smoked caramel, gianduja, rum, chocolate, almond, vanilla, passionfruit, hazelnut, caramelised white chocolate and popcorn

The greatest drama comes with the Smoked Banoffie, the dessert itself covered with a glass cloche that clearly has smoked trapped inside. The lid is lifted so the smoke wafts across the table. The banoffie dessert is then drowned in rum and set alight.

This dessert is definitely the most intense of the night, a mix of tobacco smoke, rum and sugar. "It tastes like Grandpa," I blurt out aloud, as it conjures up images of a pipe-smoking grandfather cradling a glass of whisky in his bathrobe and slippers.

Creperie Le Triskel

Creperie Le Triskel on Hardware Lane, Melbourne

We relentlessly snuck in snacks wherever we could, which is how we found ourselves stopping by Creperie Le Trisket for a quick crepe, because we could.

Making crepes at Creperie Le Triskel, Melbourne
Making crepes

There are no shortage of patrons at this quaint little eatery on Hardware Lane. They have a huge menu of crepes that include both savoury and sweet options.

Spreading the crepe batter with a metal dowel at Creperie Le Triskel, Melbourne
Spreading the crepe batter with a metal dowel

Crepe with French chestnut puree at Creperie Le Triskel, Melbourne
Crepe with French chestnut puree $6

We had two sweet crepes: one with French chestnut puree (my favourite combination) and the other with fresh strawberries and warm chocolate sauce. It's quite a thin and soft crepe, although I usually prefer the crisper kind.

Crepe with fresh strawberries and warm melted chocolate at Creperie Le Triskel, Melbourne
Crepe with fresh strawberries and warm melted chocolate $9

Fall from Grace, the secret bar at State of Grace

Entrance to the secret Fall from Grace bar at State of Grace, Melbourne
The entrance to the toilets and the secret bar

We also find time for drinks, heading to State of Grace after hearing about the secret bar Fall from Grace hidden in the basement.

Bookshelf with secret book lever to enter the Fall from Grace bar at State of Grace, Melbourne
Move the correct book from the bookshelf to gain access to the secret bar, Fall from Grace

Head for the toilets and in the corridor on your right you'll see a series of bookshelves. This the secret entranceway to the bar. When you pull the correct book from the bookshelf, the bookshelf slides across to reveal the secret stairs to Fall from Grace.

It took us a while to work it out! And we did end up needing clues from Suze and Noods who couldn't stop chortling as they watched us struggle.

#ifoundfallfromgrace congratulatory sign at Fall from Grace, Melbourne
#ifoundfallfromgrace congratulatory welcome sign

Fall from Grace bar, Melbourne
The Fall from Grace bar

Downstairs is an impressive bar area surrounded by an eclectic mix of vintage furniture and knick-knacks.

Mr Darcy cocktail at Fall from Grace, Melbourne
Mr Darcy $20
Hendricks Gin, a slight touch of violette and lychee

The G Man went straight for Mr Darcy cocktail, a striking shade of purple in its tea cup presentation. "Makes everyone feel like Elizabeth Bennet" it promises on the menu.

Cricketers Arms beer on tap at Fall from Grace bar, Melbourne
Cricketers Arm Keeper's Lager $9

I was more taken by the cricket bat tap for the Cricketers Arm Keeper's lager, a tasty beer that's brewed in Melbourne.

Bar seating at Fall from Grace, Melbourne
Lounge chair seating

Gami Chicken 

Korean fried chicken with sweet soy garlic at Gami at Healeys, Melbourne
Korean style fried chicken with sweet soy garlic $18

And of course there was fried chicken! I'd heard so much about Gami's Korean fried chicken that we squeezed in a pit-stop between dinner and dessert.

Complimentary cabbage at Gami at Healeys, Melbourne
Complimentary cabbage with dressing

We were impressed by the complimentary prawn stick chips you get while you wait, something I haven't eaten since high school. You also get pickled daikon and a raw cabbage salad as sides to your fried chicken.

Korean fried chicken with sweet soy garlic at Gami at Healeys, Melbourne
Korean fried chicken happiness

We had the Korean fried chicken with sweet soy garlic sauce, super strong on the garlic and just as amped up with sugar. The batter isn't as crunchy as Naruone but the chicken is piping hot and juicy - and the sauce is strangely addictive too.

So that's the wrap-up of our Melbourne CBD eats - still less than a quarter of what we ate that weekend. Stay tuned for more from Footscray, Fitzroy and South Yarra!

> Read the next Melbourne 2014 weekend post: Belle's Hot Chicken, Blue Bonnet BBQ + more

Creperie Le Triskel
32 Hardware Lane, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (0)466 406 404
Opening hours:
Monday to Thursday 7am-5pm
Friday 7am - 9.30pm
Saturday and Sunday 8am - 5pm
Creperie le Triskel on Urbanspoon

Cumulus Up
45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9650 1445
Opening hours:
Sunday to Thursday 5pm-12 midnight
Friday and Saturday 4pm - 1am
Cumulus Up on Urbanspoon

Fall from Grace Cellar Bar at State of Grace 
Basement, 477 Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 8644 7110
Opening hours:
Monday to Saturday 5pm til late (Thursday and Friday from 4pm)
State of Grace on Urbanspoon

Gami Chicken and Beer
Shop 6, 535 Little Lonsdale Street (enter from Healeys Lane), Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9670 3232
Opening hours: 
Sunday to Thursday 5.30pm - 1am
Friday and Saturday 5.30pm - 2.30am
Gami at Healeys Lane on Urbanspoon

Om Nom Dessert Bar at the Adelphi Hotel
187 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 8080 8827
Opening hours:
Dinner and desserts Monday to Saturday from 6pm
Breakfast 7am - 12 midday
Om Nom Dessert Bar on Urbanspoon

180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9650 8688
Opening hours: 
Sunday to Thursday 11am-11pm
Friday and Saturday 11am - 12 midnight
Supernormal on Urbanspoon

> Read the next Melbourne 2014 weekend post: Belle's Hot Chicken, Blue Bonnet BBQ + more

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Melb - Abbotsford Convent Farmers Market and Beatrix, North Melbourne
Melb - Brunswick and South Yarra: 400 Gradi, Top Paddock, Tivoli Rd + more
Melb - Fitzroy/Collingwood: Belle's Hot Chicken, Bluebonnet BBQ + more
Melb - Footscray and surrounds: 8bit Burgers, Candied Bakery, Cobb Lane + more
Melb - Seven of Melbourne's best cafes
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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 10/08/2014 03:47:00 am


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