Meeting up with some friends for dinner in Melbourne, I had one place in mind that I was really excited about: Mamasita. We made our way over at 5:30pm and joined the queue, which was already just outside the door
After half an hour of waiting in line we reached the top of the stairs, only to be told that it would be another hour until a table would be available for our party of five. Devastating! We gave a phone number and wandered back along the street in search of interim drinks or perhaps a faster food option.
We ended up at Cumulus Inc. and whilst they had an equally long waiting time they have the benefit of a charming bar above the restaurant, Cumulus Up, to make the time pass faster (take note, Mamasita!). We were told our drinks and bill could be transferred downstairs when a table was available, and settled in with cocktails and some choice picks from the Cumulus Up menu.
It may have been a waiting area for us on that night, but Cumulus Up is more than just a wine bar – the menu, which has a dishes ranging from nibbles to mains and is entirely separate to the downstairs menu, make it a destination in its own right. We shared a steak tartare, duck waffle with foie gras, and a charcuterie board, and wondered if actually we really needed to move from the spot at all.
But when we were summoned an hour later we ventured down to the main restaurant, passing by a table with the biggest shoulder of roast lamb I have ever seen on a restaurant plate. After perusing the menu it was decided that besides looking magnificent, the lamb would be the most cost effective option at $69. Let me tell you, that is a whole lotta meat – if you’re a table of two, you would have to have your eating pants on or be prepared to admit defeat – as succulent and wonderful as it was, the five of us had to cajole each other into finishing the last morsels.
Roast lamb must of course be accompanied by roast potatoes, and these crunchy-skinned, fluffy-centered potatoes fit the bill. We also ordered a freekeh salad to feel a bit more healthy (and because none of us knew how to pronounce it and it’s fun to say “freak-eh!” when you’ve had a few drinks). Whilst delicious it couldn’t help but play second fiddle to that amazing lamb, and probably wasn’t the wisest choice of side considering how filling everything ended being.
There is however always room for dessert – or at least that’s the case for two of us, who couldn’t help ordering a lemon curd filled madeline each. I felt ready to burst afterwards, but have no regrets; I don’t think I’ll eat a madeline again, for fear of ruining that perfect memory.
The restaurant is dim and densely packed with tables, but the waitstaff friendly and efficient. Certainly not the place for a quiet, romantic dinner, but for catching up with a group of friends over a huge chunk of lamb, I’d say it’s perfect. Whilst the typical mains would probably have made it a bit painfully expensive for me the dishes we chose made for a surprisingly affordable night out, considering we were all very full and nicely tipsy by the end of it. I recommend it, but if there’s a wait do take a look upstairs and try that duck waffle!