If you know anything about must-book foodie events in Melbourne, the name, ‘Ides,’ will have you reaching for your smartphone and your credit card, ready to snap up a ticket to one of the city’s hottest dinners. Now residing in its first ever bricks-and-mortar space, ex-Attica chef Peter Gunn’s permanent kitchen serves up the kind of dining experience that we, hand on heart, L.O.V.E. Delicious, innovative dishes, incredible drinks pairings that are guaranteed to introduce you to something new, and a jaw-droppingly beautiful venue that’s a cosy as it is creative.
Gunn himself has become a local legend within Melbourne’s food and drink scene. Having spent five years at Attica—aka. the restaurant that has enough chefs hats to be able to give them out like candy—the chef-lebrity is anything but. With an ethos that’s firmly food first, you’re as likely to find him chatting to the local burger bar about their cheese-topped double patties as you are talking to late-night diners at 1am about what it takes to prep a fresh Jerusalem artichoke.
The inspiration behind Gunn’s permanent home, situated on Smith Street, slap bang in the centre of Fitzroy-Collingwood’s foodie hub, is pretty simple: Start with top-notch ingredients, put them together in surprising, new ways, and keep refining and tweaking ideas, drawing inspiration from just about anything. As a result, Ides’ six-course, $110 per head menu is a constant work in progress. You’re guaranteed an experience that’s been uniquely crafted around some of Victoria’s finest produce, sometimes paired with a umeshi-infused sake, sometimes with a glass of local beer. All that matters is that it tastes surprisingly delicious which, when it comes to splashing out on a decadent evening of foodie indulgence, is what we really want, right?
Of course, what you’ll be tucking into isn’t the sort of fare you’d whip up for yourself on a rainy Wednesday night. Our Ides feast included a mouth-watering smoked eel dish, served in a light sweet potato broth, salted melt-in-your-mouth duck leg with olive puree, and compressed papaya with candied almonds, rosewater and citrus, all of which made us rethink ingredients that we’d tasted before.
The tight-knit kitchen team also go the extra mile with the little things, from the home-made peanut butter for your sourdough (if you’re a peanut butter fan, we’d chance that this is worth the $110 alone), to the house oysters. We’d like all our oysters served with a side of fresh radishes, horseradish and smoked herring roe from now on, thanks very much.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night, bar the wine cask aged Saison beer that you’ll hopefully get the chance to sip (Is it wine? Is it beer? Can I have another?), is how damn approachable Ides is. While you’d be entirely justified to ask if the northside really needs another laid-back-luxe dining venue a la Saint Crispin, Cutler & Co, Moon Under Water, the list goes on, Ides has nailed the intimate, down-to-earth vibe that makes you feel like, hey, maybe there’s hip hop on the sound-system after 9pm because these guys genuinely like A Tribe Called Quest. And actually enjoying yourself at this restaurant is totally fine?! OMG I can crack a joke/laugh/openly argue about who deserves the last scoop of peanut butter and NOBODY WILL GIVE ME EVILS!
So, should you go? If you’re the one who’s always up for a foodie adventure rather than shelling out for an old faithful, then without a doubt, gather your likeminded mates, lock in your next date-night and get ready for an experience that’s about much, much more than making sure you’re getting your protein and veggies for the day. Oh, and grab us the recipe for that peanut butter while you’re at it. If it’s still on the menu, that is.
Image credit: Michelle Jarni