• Natalie Bannister

Art on the menu

Inspired by a love of the local region’s produce, Pipit Restaurant takes a creative pivot from fine dining to adding fine art prints to their epicurean offerings.

For lovers of relaxed fine dining, Pipit Restaurant is the place to be in Pottsville, set around an open-plan kitchen design where diners can share in the action and take a deep dive into the best of the region, from country to coastline, through a set menu designed by head chef and owner Ben Devlin.

The Pipit ethos is all about gourmet food made with a grassroots style and served up with creativity and thoughtfulness, showcasing sustainable seafood (both wood-fired and raw), local sub-tropical fruits and vegetables, as well as foraged wild edibles gathered from the surrounding coastline. The set menus proved instantly popular with locals and visitors to the region when Pipit opened its doors in 2019.

Now emerging from the last few years of unexpected pandemic pivots, which saw Devlin and his team stretching their creativity to think beyond the plate through takeaway, pop-ups, closed-loop ceramics, and even online classes, Pipit has pivoted again, just in time for a welcome reopening and the busy summer season ahead. And this time, it’s in an unexpected yet utterly inspired way!

During the March 2020 lockdowns, Ben started to learn ‘Gyotaku’ — a Japanese method of direct printmaking on seafood traditionally used by fishermen to record their catches and display the fish they sold. This traditional art form can still be seen in tackle shops across Japan today.

In this same spirit, Gyotaku is being used to create Pipit art using fish, sea creatures and produce as “printing plates” for the ink (some of which is made from charcoal waste from the kitchen grill), allowing the silhouette to be imprinted on rice paper. They make the prints according to the seasonality of produce, so it’s a beautiful connection to the sea and land that inspires their menu.

The Pipit art collection includes block prints of Flame Tail Snapper, Mahi Mahi, John Dory, Mud Crab, Swimmer Crab, Eastern Prawn, and Squid, with some land-based love in the way of veggie delights like Morel Mushroom, Turnip, and Romanesco.

“A print shop from a fine-dining restaurant might seem unconventional at first, but the prints remain deeply connected to our dining,” says Pipit co-owner, Yen Trinh. “Each links a local farmer or supplier and a related dish on our menu.”

It’s another way for the Pipit team to share their passion for food and local produce and the abundant beauty of the Northern Rivers — and for diners to perhaps take home some really stunning artwork too!

Bookings and art prints are available on the Pipit website. Prints range from $150 (unframed) and $450 (framed). pipitrestaurant.com


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