IDES a Food Odyssey and World Class Dining
IDES is a revelation on Smith street Melbourne, a unique dining experience that transcends Melbourne and sits well on the world stage. This is about new dimensions, fresh vistas and panoramas with bold in your face cooking and bold flavours. IDES is a diamond on Smith Street Collingwood, an eclectic stretch of foodie destinations that beckon, but many of whom don't hit the high notes of world class dining.
We arrived at IDES by invitation with much anticipation after a previous visit to their incarnation as a pop up at Persillade. Back then we were introduced to brilliance. But the restaurant is not the pop up; it's better. And IDES is affordable; world class dining at only $110 for 6 dishes open Wednesday to Sunday! The World Loves Melbourne loves risky dining; we've eaten about 450 pork sliders in the last year and if we eat another one we'll scream (no offense intended). A chef showing dash and daring, with the skills to pull it off, is to be celebrated and applauded. One of the best things to do in Melbourne is to explore new ideas and styles in the culinary word; and IDES fits the bill.
By the time we'd been at IDES for five minutes there were already several talking points. What wowed us was the overall delivery, complexities in the wine list, and fine dining polish; as much as the food. With Peter Gunn an exceptional Head Chef, kudos must also go to his team of chefs and front of house staff. The decor is modern and looks completely different to the feel of the old Lee Ho Fook site; a smallish 36 seater restaurant with the upside of decent space between the tables (not crammed in like many Melbourne restaurants). An edgy R&B soundtrack is a mild surprise but very much IDES.
Is there anything like this in Melbourne? Who else chances their arm to virtually create a new menu night after night? You can sense the creativity in the kitchen, with Peter Gunn Head Chef and visionary and his band of talented chefs on song. This is a tight knit team that thrives on the passion of authentic edgy dining. Raff is a top notch Sommelier with extensive experience and flair.
Most restaurants in this position would find their mojo in a few well chosen and rehearsed signature dishes; then "promote and pump" them like there's no tomorrow. (And understandably so.) Not so Peter Gunn. Peter chances his arm like a master batsman at the crease, backing in his ability and living out his foodie philosophy.
This is why IDES should be celebrated. Peter Gunn should be a prophet revered in his own home town. Many play the "safe road", or at least the "safer" road. But Peter is true to himself and ventures into deeper waters for reward.
Of the six dishes, two mains and two desserts, there were many "signature" dishes. The World Loves Melbourne gets bored with the middle ground at times. There is exhilaration in this cooking.
The Australian Negroni we imbibed at the start of the evening was memorable. Yes we love Campari, but to introduce the Applewood Red Okar with its slightly greater bitterness in the Negroni was a delight. And to employ our favourite Aussie Four Pillars Gin was welcomed.
Then it was fun dining with Peter's twist on peanut butter and bread; the indulgence of my childhood (or does it ever end?). House cultured peanut butter and moorish sesame sourdough demanded we ask for more bread.
Sake is introduced early in the evening; a uniquely sourced sake from a family who has been making sake since the 17th century, and its damn good.
Oysters in Saffron syrup was a song on a plate; a chorus of textures and bold flavours. Pacific oysters from Blackman Bay in a sweet and sour saffron syrup, horseradish cream, crushed radishes and smoked herring roe. Perfect with Sake.
The Clare Valley Riesling has citrus, lime and lychee high notes and is well structured across the palate, not acid overdrive.
Sweet Potato Broth was another standout dish because of it's complexity and bold flavours. The broth was a joy, but the dish could equally have been called Silver Lake Smoked Eel in sweet potato broth; as the smoked eel was a highlight. A sense of theatre ensued as the broth was poured into the bowl by the chef. (We love that a team of chefs actually serves you at the table. For one thing, when you ask them a question they don't say "We''ll ask in the kitchen and get back to you.")
Theatre also takes place at the bar in front of us, as IDES chefs plate up dishes in open view.
Barramundi and Artichokes was another dish of pure joy; featuring pan seared barramundi, pine butter sauce, artichokes and onion vinagrette. The barramundi was perfectly cooked but the genius was in the pairing of crispy barramundi and warm small pieces of artichoke spooned over the fish, and a delightful pine butter sauce.
Belgian beer and Orange wine; who would of thought both were a perfect match or the duck dish? I voted the Belgin beer as my preferred match. The World Loves Melbourne is also a fan of orange wine, which spends longer on the lees.
Duck leg, Green Olive, Mulberries was a triumph featuring salted peking duck breast covered in dried mulberries, green olive puree and nashi pear. Who thinks to put a crust of dried mulberries on duck? Magnificent. Then to combine the duck with a green olive puree and refreshing nashi pear.
The World Loves Melbourne understands that with risky cooking some dishes may not work. On this particular night all the dishes worked. Nothing consumed seemed bland or boring or imbalanced. We are not looking for perfection anyway; we want to come on the journey with IDES. We're sick of some restaurants copying each other and buying in on trends without much flair. In cricket parlance we love it when a bright young chef dances down the wicket and plays some shots. Bold aggression at the crease.
Check out their One Day Sundays; when the restaurant picks up on various themes for one day only. This particular weekend they were transforming into a Jazz Club!
What to do with papaya? Ripe Papaya was served featuring pressed papaya with candied almonds and a dressing of rose water and lime. Crunch, sweetness, saltiness, refreshing flavours; it's all going on.
Yamada Jyuro is technically not a sake but a plum liqueur. Sweet and perfect with dessert.
As if we haven't had enough satiation for the night, along comes a world class dessert; Ice Cream Tart featuring pistachio and date tart shell filled with orange chocolate, feijoa ice cream and honeycomb. This is sheer magic with delicious complexity. If we can vote for a signature dish we would want this to stay on the menu. In fact there were several "signature" dishes this night; many to be replaced by a whole new menu the next night. We hope Peter has a database recording all these dishes from the ever changing menu. Just saying.
Peter Gunn has a smash hit on his hands at IDES. Coming out from his stellar sous chef role at Attica, Peter is his own man. This is to be celebrated; we love Peter's philosophy and direction and appreciate that Ben has been a mentor to Peter. Bold innovative dining with creative mercury rising. No sign of foraging or gardens, but thats ok. Peter embodies something dear to Ben Shewry, with food that is at all times delicious. With Peter Gunn's (and team) cooking we find seeming random ingredients come together in fine dining cacophony! Onwards and upwards we predict greater things for Peter Gunn on the world stage. Recognise the prophet/chef in his own home town.