I've been away from the blog, busy working on something new that I'm excited about sharing here once it's ready. In the meantime, guess what finally opened last week?
Upstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne (map)
Open Tuesday-Thursday 4pm–midnight, Friday-Saturday 4pm–1am, closed Sunday-Monday
There has been talk for several years about what Andrew McConnell & Co would do with the space upstairs from Cumulus Inc (at one stage it was just going be a function room, if memory serves). Luckily for us they decided to turn it into a wine bar, with a beautiful, distinctively Pascale Gomes-McNabb fitout that references downstairs and takes advantage of the abundant natural light.
It's called Cumulus Up. If it were up to me, I'd've named it Altocumulus - but then I'm nerdy that way.
There are a dozen interesting wines by the glass and plenty more by the bottle, mainly Australian and European though when I visited last Friday we had a punchy South African white. The food menu is pared back and snacky, with most dishes sub-$20. A notable exception is the honking big (800g!) dry aged rib eye to share for $90.
Melbourne, meet your new favourite snack. The confit duck-filled waffle with dabs of foie gras and prune, $7, bears all the hallmarks of a cult classic in the making (disclosure: unlike the rest of our dishes, the waffle was comped). Lobster roll who?
My favourite dish we ordered was the hand cut raw onglet with horseradish, capers, onion and sorrel ($16), though the panzanella with octopus, mussels and fermented chilli ($16) was also superb.
The service is as professional as we've come to expect from an Andrew McConnell restaurant, and the atmosphere is relaxed. While the wine bar may be intended to serve as a spillover for those waiting to dine downstairs, I foresee plenty of nights where I'll be making a beeline for Cumulus Up and settling in for the duration.