The restaurant is on Soi 22, in a busy spot which belies the warm and unhurried atmosphere within. No Idea looked unimposing enough from the outside, but was surprisingly and understatedly opulent once we entered. We were greeted by the co-owners, Blair (also the head chef) and Dave, both New Zealanders who have brought their iconoclastic and original vision for gastropub food to the Land of Smiles.
My dinner companion and I took great pleasure in the first two courses of cheese, the first a Cecina de Leon with smoked Spanish beef, yellow peach, burrata, and mint. This featured pomegranates, which popped in the mouth, and peaches, which seemed to be infused with some sort of liquor I could not define. Combined, they achieved an amazing synchronicity, in which each of the ingredients together was much more delicious than the sum of each of them them would be alone. This was followed by a goat's cheese souffle which was rich, elegant, and sumptuous, making me feel as though I could simply stop there and be content.
No Idea Gastropub - Cecina de Leon
Next up was chicken liver, which brought me temporarily back to reality. I have never been a fan of any kind of liver, but this one was tasty -- until that liver aftertaste which is unavoidable hit. Blair had cleverly camouflaged the liver taste with thinly sliced crisp jamon and sherry vinegar. It has been said that "there is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come," but I dispute that. I think it's liver. Anyway, if liver is your thing, this is about as good as it gets, I suppose.
After that was some kangaroo. Yup, you read that right. Rare peppered kangaroo loin, sourced in some Byzantine way from a farmer in Australia, with beetroot, labneh, asparagus, crisp potato, and vincotto. My mind kept flashing back to the cartoons where Sylvester the cat finds a kangaroo who has escaped from the zoo and thinks that it is the world's largest mouse. It took a bit of an internal push to actually put the kangaroo steak into my mouth, but when I did, it was surprisingly tasty. It was seasoned with a slight kick, as befits a fighting marsupial. Once again, it was the interplay of different flavors which made the dish so interesting and complex. It was absolutely delicious.
No Idea Gastropub - Kangaroo steak
Meanwhile, my dinner partner was digging into a Surin wagyu rump steak. I took a bite, and found it to be tender and nuanced, with an anchovy butter flavor that somehow evoked New Zealand's coastline.
For dessert, we had Chamomile panna cotta with spiced poached pineapple and pistachio candy, which was a revelation. We also sampled a soft chocolate mousse with candied orange which had subtle flavors of lingonberry, pine, and Braselton mint. Our server, Duanne, was helpful, knowledgeable, and personable; the ideal balance of being observant without being intrusive. She encouraged us to go upstairs, where we encountered an elegant function room with a balcony which recalled images of an earlier time, and where one could watch the street life of Soi 22 slink by.
No Idea Gastropub was a very pleasant surprise, to say the least. It far exceeded my expectations. The old saying must be true -- "What's in a name?"