Cumulus Up Wine Bar
Adding an adjoining bar to a busy restaurant to help deal with overflow is common, but rarely is it done so well that it becomes a destination in its own right. Cumulus Up, which opened in 2013, five years after the perennially busy Cumulus Inc below it got started, is still best-in-class in a genre of venue that’s only getting more popular.
Andrew McConnell’s first go at a fine-dining adjacent wine bar and restaurant (Marion – next to Cutler & Co – opened in 2015) is still an absolute winner and has one of the most impressive wine lists in the city. There’s a decent selection by the glass, and every blockbuster varietal – old world and new – is well represented on the full list.
The wine world is so vast, with a daunting number of vine-growing regions, grape types and production methods. It means that good, informed service at a wine bar isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s downright crucial. The staff at Cumulus Up makes wine-drinking as fun as it should be. They educate, but you’ll never feel condescended to. Your tastes are catered for, but you’ll also be pushed to explore the boundaries of your palate (without too much exploration of the boundaries of your budget).
You can (and many do) have a great evening at Cumulus Up focusing exclusively on the food. The duck waffle with foie gras is rightly a classic, but it’s so rich you might want to split it between two. The raw fish dish would be great on its own, but it comes dressed with finger lime. The delicious result is like sashimi covered in sour popping candy, and goes down surprisingly well with a glass of wine. There’s also a well thought out cheese menu, and a chef’s selection option, which changes daily.
In 2018, IF Architecture (Attica, Marion and Cutler & Co) refreshed the space. The most notable new addition is The Wine Room, a sleek private dining room with a separate entrance and room to seat 20 people. It’s one of the cleverest private dining rooms in Melbourne because the walls surrounding it are floor-to-ceiling windows. That means the room manages to feel like part of Cumulus Up – and benefits from all that associated atmosphere – while also being private enough for an intimate function.