More is More, Less is a Bore
Claim to fame: The next step from Attica
Reason to go: Food that refutes the minimalist doctrine with brio
To look out for: Sample Tables; the less expensive four-course menu, offered mid-week, that the kitchen is experimenting with
Pair up one of the hottest chefs to come out of the kitchen with one of Australia’s savviest restaurateurs and what do you get? In the case of chef Peter Gunn working with Peter Bartholomew, the Midas behind MoVida, Lee Ho Fook and a string of Melbourne’s other most talked about eateries, you get a very interesting proposition indeed in the form of Ides.
If you want a rollercoaster ride, this is it. Gunn and his team doesn’t hold back, crumbing avocado, serving their bread (a handsome sesame sourdough) with peanut butter, wrapping lamb neck in roasted parsley, and generally letting go with both barrels.
The question isn’t “why accessorize a braised beef cheek with toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds, black lentils and pomegranate, orange glaze and cumin oil” so much as “why wouldn’t you?” More, reasons the Ides kitchen, can be more.
Take the cheese course. It’s a cheese sandwich for the ages, combining Heidi Raclette with bread fried in butter and then taking a sharp left turn with the addition of anise oil, pomegranate and rhubarb. Oh, and chilli oil. And hibiscus vinegar.
Compressed kiwifruit in coriander syrup? What about throwing dark chocolate, honeycomb and a sauce of carob and coconut into the mix? What about an edgy wine list and a service style where the chefs deliver plates to the table? At Ides it’s business as unusual.
Yes, there’s a lot going on here. If you’re after figs-on-a-plate dining, you may find Ides challenging, or possibly even troubling. But if you’re the kind of diner who likes those figs to be joined on the plate by smoked herring roe, hung goat’s curd, sorrel, toasty hazelnut and a splash of mandarin oil (and, hey, we probably oughta pickle the figs a little first), Ides may well be your happy place.