The name Pei Modern is Mark's tribute to the architect I.M. Pei, responsible for the famous inverted glass pyramids at the Louvre. The team behind Pei Modern include Mark Best of Sydney, together with Peter Bartholomew and David Mackintosh, both from MoVida. The Head Chef is Matt Germanchis (formerly of Pandora's Box, MoVida, Fat Duck) and the restaurant manager is somellier Ainslie Lubbock (formerly of Royal Mail Hotel and Attica).
PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
When it comes to dining in Australia, it is the North versus the South, Sydney versus Melbourne. It is a rivalry that has existed for decades and one which has only but intensified in the past few Masterchef-obsessed years.
So when Sydney's Best comes to Melbourne, it is hard to avoid the commotion. The "Best" comes in the form of Pei Modern, a new fine-diner in Melbourne's inner city. A double entendre, Pei Modern is the creation of Mark Best, of Sydney's Marque Restaurant. As one of only five restaurants in New South Wales to be awarded the highly coveted title of 3 Chef Hats, Marque is the epitome of fine dining in Australia.
While Marque devotees may be disappointed to hear that Pei Modern is quite different from its Sydney sibling, Pei Modern does draw some similarities. The restaurant space, like Marque, is simple and elegant with upholstered seats and ambient lighting.
The similarities tend to stop about here. Rather than being located in the epicentre of Melbourne dining, as Marque is on Crown Street in Surry Hills, the location of Pei Modern is slightly unusual. Tucked away at the back of Collins Place, diners walk through an empty retail centre, where only a handful of couples, box of popcorn in hand, can be glimpsed heading downstairs to a movie at Kino Cinemas.
Rather than a multi-course degustation, diners to Pei Modern can enjoy simple a la carte fare, at more than reasonable prices. A selection of eight elegant dishes comprise the main menu, with matching sides, while the bar menu offers more casual drinking fare such as chicken liver parfait and croquettes. Not interested in the dinner menu? Unlike Marque, it doesn't cost $160 to experience the Best, at Pei Modern, you can put the Best to test with breakfast for just $8.
Clearly tapping into the salubrious Sofitel Hotel clientele next door, Pei Modern offers a chic breakfast menu with chard and cheddar omelette and bacon and mustard toasted sandwich. While similarities are few and far between, Mark Best has created something special with Pei Modern. The menus, from breakfast and bar to lunch and dinner, feature basic dishes but with a Mark Best twist. Each dish breaks boundaries while still retaining a quiet sophistication that will ensure a loyal following.
Some may ask, why not create a Melbourne version of Marque? Why dabble with such a successful formula? Well, the answer is clear and simple: Because, you can create something better. And when the best gets better. Now that's something to make a commotion about.