IDES is a pop-up dinner put together by mates and passionate chefs Peter Gunn and Lindsay Fush (second and third from the left above respectively), who met while working at the Royal Mail in Dunkeld. Peter is now junior sous chef at Attica, while Lindsay is working at a local pub in Hamilton. Late last year they formed their own catering business and then began to explore the idea of using their days off to host a pop-up tasting menu here in Melbourne. You know how they say if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life? These guys have obviously nailed it.
The menu is six courses of intricate yet playful food, a steal at $90. It's at Tonik in Kensington, who provide drinks for purchase. Sure, the space isn't nearly as classy as the food, but Peter and "Fushie" bring in all their own crockery and cutlery to enhance the experience of what's on the plate.
One thing I love is that with the exception of Raffaele Mastrovincenzo (front of house at Attica and wearing black in the photo above), the chefs do all the service, bringing out plates and chatting with you about their ingredients, technique and so on.
One of my faves was this exquisite duck liver parfait served with smoked salt, toasted black pepper and chervil, gorgeous heaped onto toasted bread. I also loved a starter of an amazing, rich broth that was apparently only made with turnip, onion and mustard oil.
As of today, there are a mere 10 spots left for the next dinner on Monday, 23 September. Book via the details above, and you can also check out the IDES Facebook page here.
Well, from the sensational to the...somewhat disappointing. I was pretty stoked to hear that Dumplings Plus were opening a new branch at Highpoint. If I'm stuck and starving, I'd prefer to have a choice like this rather than the usual food court suspects.
This wonton soup was spoiled, though, by absolute buckets of MSG. Interesting exchange I had with a Chinese restaurateur recently, though - I said in my opinion restaurant X used too much MSG and he said, quite surprised, "You can taste MSG?" I think it's like boar taint. Some find it overpowering; others can't taste it at all. Anyway, do try Dumplings Plus yourself - I'd go for the plain panfried dumplings next time.
What DOESN'T have a lot of MSG is this quite delicious beef pho from Green Leaf, Moonee Ponds. We were so struck by its rich flavour yet lack of that particular "kapow" MSG denotes that we checked with the owner and there is only the tiniest pinch in a 20-litre stockpot.
Trying to convince a Footscray resident to go elsewhere for Vietnamese is like selling coal to Newcastle, but if Moonee Ponds is close to you, give Green Leaf a try. Their prices are a bit dearer than Footscray or Sunshine but they have a lovely little story behind their business and their food is obviously made with care. Their Facebook page is here.
Rockfish has changed owners and the word on the street is it's not the Rockfish we knew and loved. I've been quite liking fish and chips from the very awesomely old-school Charles Street Fish and Chips in Seddon (67 Charles Street).
They have a really big range of fish, with ten choices including flathead, whiting, snapper, flounder and more. Beer care of Seddon Wine Store.
With summer coming up, you could go and explore Point Cook Homestead. It's quite odd to drive there, getting to the end of the glossy housing estates in Point Cook and suddenly being surrounded by fields and the odd horse, with the city hovering in the distance like a mirage. The kids kept asking, "Are we in the country now?" I didn't really know the answer.
You get the feeling they could do so much more with the space - there's a small but lovely old home that I think is mainly used for wedding photos, some empty stables, a herd of geese behind a gate and old farm machinery for the kids to play on. The restaurant there is called Scrumpy Brown's and they do food that is not mindblowing but nice all the same.
Viz. this nice Caesar salad. Lattes were pretty good too.
It's not far to scramble down to this lonely, lovely stretch of beach...
...and do some beachcombing. (We put these back, of course.) But do heed the warning signs of snakes - we nearly trod on a baby tiger!