Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tasty tidbits, from fish and chips to duck parfait at IDES

Time for another blog amnesty post!  I wanted to share with you some westside and city dining highlights from the last couple of months.  First up:  IDES.


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!

Dumplings Plus on Urbanspoon

The Green Leaf on Urbanspoon


  1. where have you been??!! or are you too important a writer now to worry about all your humble blog fans out there!! ;)

    Anyhoo, I've been dying for someone to check out Dumplings Plus at KP - I figured that it would be hit with the average sticker - super excited about IDES pop up but will need to count pennies before going - a bit povo at the moment.

    1. Aargh, I'm sorry! More like there are only so many meals I can fit down my gullet! I think I need a "Donate" button for a new larger-size wardrobe.

      You guys would LOVE IDES... Count those pennies!

  2. I used to be all over Charles st fish and chips too but have just been introduced to Wembley Ave fish and chips... they are pretty amazing!
    the steamed prawn dumplings at KP are pretty good .. but I have to agree the MSG is killer

    1. Ooh, great tip Jodes! I will check them out. The prob with fish and chips as I am sure you know is that any gains can be quickly cancelled by a too-long car trip home...

      I quite like Dumplings Plus in town but had some fried dumplings there recently that were really nothing to shout about - not half as good as those had previously. Anyway, I'll try the steamed prawn at the Highpoint spot next time. At least they really do make them on the premises - you can see the staff busy in the window pleating and folding.

  3. Thanks for the heads up about the MSG!! Shame :(

    The caesar salad looks amazing!! I'll have to drag my partner out to Point Cook sometime! :)
    Wonder if they'd mind us bringing our dogs!

    1. Jen, you should definitely give them a call! It would be a great doggy spot if they were cool with it.

  4. I was at Highpoint the other day and the queue for Dumplings Plus was out of control. You are right they are really crying out for something decent there - pity about the MSG!

    1. Me too - I was passing by and the queue for just a single takeaway dumpling was like 10 deep! It was nuts!

    2. In defence of Dumplings Plus at Highpoint: We loved our first and second feeds of dumplings. Then, on the next visit, we ordered laksa and it was pretty awful/lame. But then I subsequently had the beef brisket noodle soup which was very, very good. So ... a bit hit and miss, but still cool within the context of a shopping centre. And in that same context, we find the whole new food area and its adjacent shops rather pleasant - including the Samsung shop at which I finally got round to joining the mobile device generation!


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