Cloudland – New Feasting Menu and FIRST EXCLUSIVE look at a new room!

Last week I was invited to Cloudland to taste their new Feasting Menu – a selection of casual, tapas style dishes that would be perfect for snacking on while having a drink or two and chatting with friends. Here’s what we tasted:

Oysters with roe and a slice of lime – very fresh and creamy. The roe added a nice textural contrast

We also tried a selection of warmed marinated olives and ‘Russian Roulette’ Chilis – where 1 in 10 chilis will blow your head off. Luckily I got a milder one!

I enjoyed these snacks at the bar with mojito-style mocktail (very similar to a real mojito!) – it was a work day after all!

We moved to the Butterfly Garden – their dining area on the lower floor. We were served blue fin tuna carpaccio with wasabi aioli, soya glaze and baby coriander; and pan seared chorizo served with pickled vegetables.  The tuna was creamy and light – the aioli suited it perfectly. This chorizo was one of the best I’ve tasted – vibrant spices, unlike some chorizo which can taste a little muddy.

Next up, bright green spinach arancini with creamy fetta in the middle served with a dipping sauce and lemon wedge. This was one of my favourites. The piri piri flamed prawns were meaty and the chili was very warm and lingered for a long time in my mouth – in a good way.

Roasted eggplant, goats fetta, basil, and sherry infused grapes. This is truly a strange dish – but the combination of flavours works really well. The eggplant was not dredged in oil and very light.

Braised Bunya Mountain goat, tomato, white beans, lardo – this was very rustic – the beans in the sauce were lovely and firm, the goat fell off the bone. This absolutely needed a few pieces of bread served with it to sop up the flavoursome sauce.

It was served with a rocket salad with pear, parmesan, pine nuts and balsamic – a classic combination.

Onto dessert. First up (unpictured) was coffee doughnuts with a chocolate sauce. The bitterness of the coffee cut through the sweetness of the doughnut. Very clever indeed. Churros with marshmallow mousse – an old family recipe of the chef and tri-chocolate fondue with fresh fruit and crisp biscotti. A nice way to end the meal.

This gentleman is the force behind the new menu direction, Chef Ashley Reed. A pastry chef originally, he brings a lot of warmth to the table with his hearty intense flavours – since each mouthful is quite small in each tasting plate, he makes up with intensity of flavour.

The new menu is very tasty, in comparison to the excess and extravagance of the building it seems almost too homely, although still extremely delicious, generous with flavour and ingenuity. It may simply be the terracotta serving bowls and large distressed wood platters that made the food, aesthetically, not match the interior space.

One of the two kitchens as been fitted out with a custom made 350 litre sous vide machine (that’s HUGE!!!) which should fit about 200 steaks at once. Often at night only 5 chefs will slave away in the kitchens to provide over 600 people with meals. Cloudland’s kitchens are obviously run with impeccable discipline.

Cloudland is absolutely over the top in every way – each wall, each nook has detail and it all is unique in each area  from casual, island-style dining, elegant bars, excessive, naughty wall paper, a whole bar made of 10000 glass balls – I always had expected the design was a collaborative approach with many designers and artists working together. Surprisingly the whole space has been designed by just 2 people, Alexa Nice and Nic Brunner. A couple of very talented and very lucky designers – to be given the opportunity to bring these designs into reality!

A quick tour of Cloudland now – the garden area on the ground floor of the building

The ground floor, bar and casual seating

EXCLUSIVE!! I was kindly given a tour of the function areas within Cloudland by marketing manager John Allen. This is a first look at The Balcony – a part of the Rainbow Function Rooms area. This area is not yet complete – the roof is yet to be added.

Upstairs in the bar area – A Kama Sutra book was used to decoupage a whole wall, and a leathered column with massive silver baubles. Each of the booths in this bar area are available to be curtained off into private rooms with no booking fee – but a minimum spend is required.

The Bickle family who owns Cloudland has also owned the Empire Hotel next door since the late 1990’s. Cloudland is now expanding into this area with private function rooms. This is one of the areas – a very feminine room, perfect for a wedding or girly party. They will be holding high-tea functions here. The chandeliers are stunning.

And in the basement a dark, very elegant, masculine wine and whiskey bar available for private functions. This space was probably my favourite in all of cloudland for its restraint and elegance.
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