Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Collage

Published January, 2010 in the Post Register.

It’s just a restaurant; do not be afraid.

As one of the handful of eastern Idaho’s truly fine dining restaurants, Collage produces some exotic dishes. Chef and co-owner Dave Shipley wants you to know, however, that he’s also capable of making dishes that everyone’s heard of.

“We need to appeal to everybody,” Shipley says. He and partner, Luciana Schmitz, are juggling the menu at Collage, looking for the right balance between gourmet and recognizable, a range that’s particularly important during tight economic times.

They’ve recently introduced an expanded pasta menu to go with signature dishes like lobster bisque and buffalo ribeye, with an accompanying lower price range.

Collage opened in a tiny space on First Street in Idaho Falls seven years ago and moved to its current location across from the Colonial Theater on A Street in 2007 after Shipley and Schmitz bought out the restaurant’s other partners.

Shipley grew up in Aspen Valley, Colorado, learning the art of cooking under the tutelage of his chef father. He worked at a number of restaurants in Salt Lake City as a sous-chef and chef before coming to Idaho Falls.

He worries now that Collage’s early success and reputation for a high-end experience is scaring some potential customers off. “Just having a special-occasion restaurant isn’t going to keep us open.”

Schmitz, a native of northern Italy, makes her own tiramisu that has developed its own following, but call ahead if that’s what you’re coming in for – it’s a special item that’s not always on the menu – “I make it every couple of months,” she says. The equally popular mocha ganache is reliably available. Even the sorbet and ice cream are homemade.

Of course, if you’re looking for an entrée that’s a little special, Shipley’s got you covered, from lobster-stuffed ravioli to his specialty, local buffalo ribeye that spends the night before it’s served marinating in wine and herbs.

Like most chefs, Shipley prefers the cooking to running a business, but understands that the two go hand in hand.

“I just want to come in and cook,” he says.

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