When walking down the ever-buzzing, eclectic (and often frantic) Smith Street in Collingwood, the restaurant IDES may seem like just another local dining spot.
It’s unassuming thanks to its minimal signage and a no-fuss exterior. But step inside and it’s almost as if you are transported into another dimension. Imagine a quaint area, low whispers, minimal table settings, but a world of creativity to be experienced with just a clink of a fork and knife.
Welcome to IDES.
Thanks to founder and head chef Peter Gunn (ex-Attica), the boho suburb of Collingwood (bordering Fitzroy) has been subtly transformed, food-wise, with this exceptional dining destination; it’s a culinary treat like no other.
“Before I opened IDES, I spent a lot of time creating pop-up immersive dining experiences in all sorts of weird places,” explains Peter Gunn.
“We did a degustation dinner on a tram, another one in a laneway and also on a rooftop in the city – it was a lot of work, but I loved the challenge of making food that was at a really high standard for people to enjoy in pretty crazy circumstances.”
Not long after these immersive degustation experiences were trialled (and successfully tested), IDES was born.
The IDES experience
As you enter the small restaurant with minimal signage, you are greeted with friendly smiles and shown promptly to your table. From there, you must make a decision: the ‘half’ or ‘full’ IDES menu? The latter comes highly recommended for the ultimate IDES dining experience.
To begin your culinary journey, you will be served IDES’ idea of ‘snacks’ in the way of salted mushrooms disguised as river stones; cos lettuce that will make you salivate with every crunch (yes, cos lettuce!); plus more.
It will become evidently clear that the food presented at IDES is, in fact, works of art.
“As a small restaurant, we are able to use, in volume, a lot of incredible ingredients that bigger restaurants can’t. From there, we play with the presentation of the dish; we experiment,” explains Gunn.
“At IDES, we go out of our way to make dining fun, revealing and, of course, delicious! IDES gives us the chance to control a lot more variables in our own space; it gives us a chance to perfect everything about the dining experience and lets us experiment with things in a more controlled environment.”
After testing the palette with IDES snacks and some bread and butter (sesame sourdough and peanut butter ‘butter’, to be precise) you will move onto the first course – burnt avocado with golden trout roe and tomato.
Next, you will enjoy pumpkin flowers in oxtail broth, followed by marron tail with sugar snap peas and wasabi leaf, finished by lamb loin with almond, zucchini and lovage. The flavours omitted from these dishes cannot be explained in words – they merely need to be tasted to understand.
By the completion of the main courses, there is one word you will use to describe the experience thus far: astounding!
The attention to detail is almost overwhelming, with the flavours produced simply heavenly. The interactive nature that an IDES dining experience presents is also unparalleled – it’s just not seen in any other restaurant in town.
As you become acquainted with the IDES brand over a two-hour sitting, you will come to learn that there is always something more; the surprises continue.
After a small intermission – much like a theatric show – the executive chef will carry over a large clay pot to your table. Puzzling and mysterious, the reveal is unexpected: smoked ice-cream with hemp seed oil.
As the smoke fills your nostrils, it’s instructed you consume immediately before melting point. The flavours are bold but surprisingly light, as each spoonful goes down much too easy.
And for the grand reveal? Well, let’s just say IDES goes out with a bang!
A small, simple, mysterious-looking box will find its way to your table, accompanied by a hammer-like utensil. After instructed to “smash” the treat, what you will find inside is a garden of fruit encapsulated by chocolate; blackberries and coconut with blueberries and cream cheese. This ‘Black Box’ dessert is by far the most impressive dish on the menu, purely due to the complexity of its design.
There is little wonder as to why chef and owner Peter Gunn is revered in the industry. His creations, which are works of art first and foremost, take guests on a journey that attracts all the senses.
“I want people to feel that we’ve challenged them and exceeded their expectations. They should come out feeling like they have gone through something really special and different,” says Gunn.
‘Special’ and ‘different’ are only two words to describe a dining experience at IDES, however; it’s only just the beginning.
To book a table at IDES, visit the website HERE
92 Smith St,