TOP 100 QUEST: IDES, Melbourne
I have to say, some of the recent Top 100s I’ve been to have left me somewhat – not cold, but lukewarm. The current trend appears to be ‘simple food done well’ – a whole grilled fish with a few salad leaves, a simple pasta dish, a good quality steak – and served in stylish, ‘trendy’ surrounds. All good, but, well, not what I call particularly exciting, and I’m pretty sure my lack of enthusiasm isn’t because I’ve had quite a few damn good meals in my time.
Then I went to Ides. With modest frontage, it was a little difficult to spot at first but as soon as I entered, I got the shiver of excitement. It had a completely different feel to the others – stylish and modern with dark finishes and dim lighting – greys and browns, leather and copper. A real attention to detail – the perfect setting for some serious food.
With a busy lead up to my trip, I knew very little about this place when I walked in – apart from it was on the Top 100 list. I’ve since learned that Chef Peter Gunn was sous chef at Attica and won the S.Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year award in 2015 – not too shabby!
There are two set menus on offer – one at $90 and the full menu at $140pp. We opted for the latter, even though I’d already done another Top 100 for lunch that day. I figure if you’re there, why hold back? Life is short, and getting shorter.
The snacks came and they were simply sensational – an oyster in saffron syrup and mandarin oil, lamb ribs, baby cucumbers, school prawns and the most amazing cos lettuce topped with bonito vinegar, palm sugar and pink salt. The bread came out with a house-made ‘peanut butter’ made with peanut paste. Wow – I’d go back just for those snacks alone!
Then – the tomatoes – a work of art – small tomatoes stuffed with peas, goat’s cheese and pine nuts. This was followed by a grilled chicken broth to calm everything down before our taste buds where whipped into a frenzy again with an unusual combination of barramundi baked with sweetcorn and black garlic glazed with red wine and lamb sauce – such excellent flavours. The final savoury course before two sweet dishes was a beef short rib with accompaniments of spiced cream cheese, smoked cashew nuts and carrots cooked in duck fat. Delicious.
What added to the whole experience was that the chefs, including Gunn himself, were plating up some of the dishes right next to our table at the end of the bar that’s in the centre of the restaurant.
I really appreciated my whole Ides experience – it was so refreshing to see such an attention to detail, unexpected combinations and the use of ingredients that aren’t necessarily following the current trend. Add to that, excellent service and you’ve got a winner. (p.s. excuse the quality of my photos – as mentioned, dim lighting!)