Ida Mae: The New “It� Place

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Kenneth W. Collins, the executive chef and co-owner of Ida Mae, has created the perfect fusion of his southern ancestry and classical French training. Everything from the southern belle martini –made with real watermelon juice—to the patties made of grits has the feel of mom’s home cooking with an edge. The ‘edge’ is best described by Collins, who also, being a jazz bass player, compares each meal to a piece of music. “Each meal, like a song has a complexity to it and needs to stand out.� And stand out it does.

Starting off with the fabulous mushroom appetizer that comes like a castle with multiple types of mushroom sitting in a tasty brown sauce. Then you can go on to one of Ida Mae’s signature meals: the poached Maine lobster, which is presented with medallions of grilled grits creamed leeks and apples, all sitting in a crawfish butter foam—made with actual crawfish. And then finish with the coconut cheesecake, which is found in an incredible watermelon consommé, topped off by a light, fun watermelon sorbet. The whole experience is like a sweet symphony.

Collins is involved in every aspect of the restaurant including the stylish design, which he wanted to look like his great grandmother Ida Mae’s living room. Even the music has Collins’ imprint. On Fridays, you might even find Collins playing bass in Michael Lawson’s jazz quartet. And on any given night, you can just people-watch since the clientele is so diverse, ranging from all-types of professionals to business tycoons, like the founders of FUBU.

Collins, who grew up in Dallas, has spent much of his young time perfecting the artistry of food making by learning from the best. He trained in the Euro chefs program at the Plaza of the Americas for the InterContinental Hotel in Dallas and has learned from people such as Paul Bocuse and Nick Barclay. And prior to opening Ida Mae’s a year and a half ago, Collins had successful stints at Café Royale and Enjolie in Dallas and Tumblebrook Country Club in Connecticut.

Finally, it should come as no surprise, that Collins, who was raised by his grandmother and great grandmother to have a strong work ethic, is now also about to conquer the broadcast and literary world. Look for a television show and cookbook to be out soon.

When you go to Ida Mae for dinner be prepared to spend about $30-40 a person and be prepared to enjoy every minute of it. The restaurant opened last summer.

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