Ides owner-chef Peter Gunn has added a casual bar next door to his Collingwood fine-diner. Inspired by izakayas, pubs and tapas bars, March opened last Friday after four false starts – and it may continue evolving. But for now it's ready to pour wine (including bottles from the Ides cellar), feed people, play tunes and show Smith Street a good time.
"I want it brighter and more rowdy and much more informal and relaxed than what Ides is," Gunn says.
The chef has wanted a neighbouring bar for Ides guests and others since before the pandemic, and had plans drawn up for a 12-seat bar and a rear private dining room. But in December 2021, after lockdowns, takeaway pivots, a construction ban and a key project member retiring, the building works still weren't done so Gunn changed tack. He's now trialling a grungier version with 34 seats.
"It's kind of going back to where Ides came from with pop-ups and events. I figured why not go back to our roots?"
The Ides DNA is also alive in the standard of service, hard-to-find wines and sakes, and of course, the food.
Everything is designed as a small plate to share.
Salted eye fillet is dressed with kimchi (made to a recipe from another Ides chef) and served on spiced crackers; top-shelf fried chicken involves a "hearty portion" of prized Milking Yard Farm chicken wings; and Gunn's latest dessert, "honeycomb", featuring honeycomb parfait filled with beech honeydew honey and fennel powder, which may become a new signature to rival his black box dessert.
The current finishes and fit-out are very DIY, with a mustard feature wall splattered with black paint by Gunn himself and the wall adjoining Ides emblazoned with a comically large painted gold door. Minimal concrete-look bars and simple black furniture offset these features.
For now, March will operate as a casual bar, with the rest of the changes (including Ides' first-ever private dining room) to happen when they happen.
Open Fri-Sat 6pm-late.
90 Smith Street, Collingwood, 0432 365 869, idesmelbourne.com.au