Mark Best and the MoVida men make a modern masterpiece
What do Mark Best (Marque, Sydney), David Mackintosh and Peter Bartholomew (both MoVida) have in common? A week old restaurant Pei Modern, that’s what. Matt Germanchis (ex Pandora’s Box and MoVida) is head chef and Ainslie Lubbock (ex Royal Mail Hotel and Attica) manager and sommelier. The line up is as impressive as the cast in The Tree of Life, but unlike the movie, the idea behind this modern brasserie makes sense.
Named after architect I. M Pei (responsible for the Louvre’s glass pyramid), the focus at Pei Modern is as much about design as it is about food. Helen Rice from Rice Architecture is responsible for the vaulted ceiling made from natural timber, which curves all the way down to the floor. A metal screen divides this area from the main dining room, where white furniture and marble surfaces add extra sophistication. The best seat in the house is in one of two individual couch chairs. You may never get up, but at least you have a view of the open kitchen.
Lubbock’s wine list favours smaller, natural producers and is cleverly divided into descriptions to make choosing easier (whites may be with “perfume and texture” or “depth and richness”). There’s Brunswick Bitter, Coopers’ Pale Ale and sparkling water on tap. The latter is courtesy of a machine that filters, chills and carbonates “Melbourne’s perfectly good water”.
The breakfast menu features croissants from the MoVida bakery. Lunch is available until the kitchen closes (pork terrine with port mustard anyone?), while a dinner favourite is the dry aged rump camp with dried carrots and beetroot. For dessert, it’s hard to go past the caramelised tomato stuffed with twelve flavours and served with star anise ice cream (pinched from Marque). Mackintosh and Bartholomew can’t name the twelve flavours off the top of their heads, but they assure us it’s the kind of dessert that makes you come back. The chef wrote them down for us, but you’ll have to taste it to believe it.
Where: Collins Place, 45 Collins Street Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9654 8545
Open: Mon-Sun, 8am-11pm for food | until 1am for drinks