Melbourne Day 6 – cumulus inc and Gingerboy, part 2

Melbourne Day 6

Monday began the work week, which left less time for sightseeing and dining out, but we made every effort to keep up the pace. After our morning session, we decided as a group to go and check out the latest offering from local chef Andrew McConnell, cumulus inc. Tucked into a space formerly occupied by an art gallery, it was a simple, modern, open room with a bar on one side and a kitchen on the other. A mixture of high and low tables as well as seats in front of the kitchen provided a few options, but as we were 7 and the place was busy, we were seated at a large round table with tall stools with a great view of the whole room.

As seems to be the trend in Melbourne these days, all of the dishes were designed for sharing, we were told, so elected to order 7 plates, consisting of: Crispy school prawns sautéed with chilli and garlic; Olives; Scallops wrapped in speck with crushed broad beans; Kitchen charcuterie selection, which included sopressa, prosciutto, and jamon; Baked gnocchi with taleggio and truffle vinaigrette; Grilled King prawn with white bean salad; and House merguez sausage with chickpeas and silverbeet.

Overall the dishes were well prepared and tasty, although it was felt by all that the portion sizes were a bit light for the prices.

A productive afternoon of work followed, and then on our walk back to our hotel, we decided to pop into Gingerboy and make a reservation for a late dinner that night, so that my travelling companions could try it out. When we returned at 9 for dinner, the dining room was just as busy as it had been the previous time I had been there. They were all out of the Vietnamese beer I had enjoyed the previous week, but recommended the local “Cricketer’s Lager” as a good compliment to the food. I had talked up the place to my guests, and it didn’t disappoint.

We started with three small plates to share: Son in Law eggs with chilli jam and asian herbs; Steamed pork and chive dumplings with coriander relish; Spring Bay scallops with Korean black bean chilli dressing. The eggs came with instructions this time, to put the whole thing in your mouth to experience the textures fully. I obliged, and was treated to the combination of the crisp outside, and the soft centre accented with the chilli and herbs. The dumplings were nicely seasoned, and the dipping sauce reminded me of the marinade we used to make for an Asian tuna tartare. The scallops were baked on the half shell, with a touch of black bean and a fresh cilantro leaf on top.

We then elected to share one of the large plates with a few sides. The Red duck leg curry with confit shallots, thai basil, and coconut cream was delicious, falling off the bone tender with a sauce that was deep and complex. On the side we had creamed coconut rice, which was to die for, crispy corn cakes, and wok greens, a nice selection of flash-fried bok choy, sui choy, beans, and snow peas.

Although we were fairly full, we were enjoying the flavours so much we deemed it necessary to try the Gingerboy dessert share plate, a small portion of all 5 of the desserts. Sticky black rice, asian pear, and jasmine tea ice cream, was a nice combination of warm rice underneath and cold ice cream on top, the tofu cheesecake, pandan jelly, water chestnut, fresh strawberries was silky smooth and light, vanilla and apple dumplings with spiced rhubarb soup and coconut sorbet were as good as the last time, the chilled chocolate pudding, pineapple, and chilli rock sugar was very creamy, and the pear and cinnamon pancake, palm sugar syrup, red bean ice cream was an interesting combination of textures and tastes.

My dining companions were as impressed as I had been the week before, and raved about it as being their best meal of the trip so far.