Squarely in the middle – Ides review
92 Smith St, Collingwood, Victoria
Chef: Peter Gunn
Awards: 1 Hats
Mookie was flying back from her culinary adventures in Thailand and Cambodia and asked that one of her crew meet her in Melbourne to dine at Attica (see the Attica review here). Wanting to try the dishes of Peter Gunn, since the last time the Foodie Mookie crew visited Attica, a booking was made at his restaurant Ides. This evolution of Gunn’s monthly popup dinners (likely the origin of the name) comes with Raffaele Mastrovincenzo (ex Kappo – see the review). The space is dark and almost smokey with a touch of prohibition speak-easy vibe as Pookie enters. Welcomed by Raffaele and directed to a seat in the middle of the gun barrel room he looks around. The restaurant is very quiet (2 other tables) and its not an early booking (7.00pm) so Pookie quickly reaches for the wine menu and not finding anything by the glass that meets his fancy orders a bottle of premier cru Chablis – life is too short to drink wine you don’t enjoy!
Gunn helped his former mentor at Attica make the restaurant what it is today but he prefers that not to be the focal point of commentary for Ides. He has cemented his name as being a great experimental chef with the Ides popup project. This experimental approach to food is evident in the dishes from the outset – he is trying new combinations of flavour with a bravery rarely seen in the industry – some with more success than others. Gunn definitely has his own style, quite distinct from what is being served at Attica.
All dishes are served to the table by a chef from the kitchen, there are only 2 front of house staff to attend to welcomes, drinks and clearing on the night Pookie dined. Its a lean operation that centres the most heads in the kitchen. The experimental nature of the flavours is a challenge for Mastrovincenzo but one which he meets with aplomb in the wine pairing (provided when Pookie donated the remainder of the bottle of Chablis to the staff after a few glasses) which was truly one of the best encountered to date.
The first surprise of the night is the butter which is actually salty nutty peanut butter generously portioned and take Pookie back to his childhood smearing it thickly onto bread before stuffing it in his adolescent gob before reaching for the knife again. Tonight there is less stuffing but equally as much delight. Another impressive dish was the beef cheek – the toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds providing an excellent counterpoint to the unctuous sweet soft but crisp nature of the cheek. Its an interesting combination. The standout dish for Pookie, however, was the rainbow trout with raw zucchini and blood orange sauce. It the pith could somehow be extracted (to remove the bitter aftertaste) prior to creating the sauce then this dish would go down as one of the top 10 in his list of must eat before you die dishes.
Overall the meal was pleasant, not a completely traditional fine dining menu nor a completely experimental one either but rather sitting squarely middle of the road. Ides is well worth the visit to try someone new and a little bit different. Pookie strongly recommends the wine match as Mastrovincenzo has a great palette when matching to the not what you would expect menu. Help bring glory to the brave by trying Ides sometime soon. Next time the Foodie Mookie crew visits it should be packed to the rafters.