A preview of Ides

Author: Larissa Dubecki
Photography: Rebecca Newman

Ides is the pop-up that's swimming against the tide. One of the hottest tables in Melbourne, the once-a-month residency of Attica sous-chef Peter Gunn at East Melbourne's Persillade, is soon to morph into a proper grown-up restaurant.

Gunn taking the keys for new digs on Collingwood hotspot Smith Street is good news for would-be diners languishing on the eight-month-long waiting list. The avant-garde cooking of the New Zealand-born chef, whose CV also includes Ezard and the Royal Mail in its Dan Hunter era, has attracted plenty of attention over the past 18 months.

The shift from Persillade to the site formerly known as Lee Ho Fook will see 36 diners a night signing up for the six-course d├ęgustation menu, at $110 a head. GT's reigning sommelier of the year, Raffaele Mastrovincenzo (Gunn's right-hand man at the pop-ups), has jumped ship from Kappo to double as restaurant manager, and Gunn says he'll keep the tradition of chefs delivering food to the tables.

As for that food, you can consider it young and energetic fine dining. "It's a very spontaneous style of cooking. At any moment I want to be able to say, 'that ingredient is fantastic, this is what we're doing', or 'that's shit, we're not doing that.'" And you can add this caveat: "No things on sticks."

His five years as Ben Shewry's second in charge came to a fitting end with a burger with the boss. "The Attica kitchen is exactly like I want my kitchen to be: honest, natural, energetic, a very positive place to be where ideas can flow. Ben's been a real mentor to me, and I want to capture the same spirit.''

Ides will be housed in the space vacated by Lee Ho Fook when it went uptown and boasts a fit-out by Grant Cheyne (Neil Perry's go-to designer). Landlords David Mackintosh and Peter Bartholomew (the restaurant impresarios behind Lee Ho Fook, MoVida, Pei Modern, Rosa's Kitchen and more) have iced their concept for a Chinese street eatery to throw their weight behind the venture.

Open Wednesday to Sunday from the day after the Ides of March (translation: March 16).

Ides, 92 Smith St, Collingwood, Vic, idesmelbourne.com.au

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