A small restaurant with a big heart

Posted 5 Dec 2018

All our favourite Canberra establishments have come together to create a new restaurant, Pilot.

A collaboration between Mal (from Ester, Automata & Oscillate Wildly), Ross (from Underground Spirits & Eightysix) and Dash (from Eightysix, Momofuku Seiobo & the Fish Butchery), this small restaurant has a big heart. We chatted to the team behind Pilot to find out more about the delicious delicacies and ethos that inspired this restaurant.

Ainslie foodies are raving about their new local. What inspired you to open Pilot?

We opened Pilot to create a venue that we would like to eat at with a drinks focus that is all Australian. When we decided to open a restaurant we wanted to do it right – namely, to try to be as sustainable as possible and support our local community. A great environment for our staff was also top of mind. We are a small close-knit team with one goal – a great food experience for all.

When we opened your menu we were overwhelmed with choice. We spent a good half an hour debating what to get. Which dish would you recommend?

We still struggle with that choice as well – it’s all delicious – but if I had to give a recommendation it would definitely be our prix fixe menu. This menu showcases what we are all about – it is all our favourite dishes with an optional full pairing or non-alcoholic pairing. Mal cooks with seasonal local produce to create complex flavours that will challenge your taste buds.

Our set menu changes quite often – almost twice a week. Of course, we have some favourites that have been on since we opened. No one can say no to our cheese + spinach dish, our take on palak paneer or Barry’s bread. Barry bakes our bread in-house and we use whispering farms organic flour that is milled to order. It’s delightful.

Once we ate every last morsel of deliciousness off our plates we noticed the beautiful style of the ceramic plates. And then we looked up and noticed the delightful decanters. And then we noticed the floral installation of native flora and the local art. Is there a story behind this décor?

We tried to create a space that is unique and comfortable. When deciding on our plates and bowls, we didn’t think twice – we wanted to work with local artists. We are surrounded by talented people that work locally and to serve Mal’s beautiful food on a generic plate was not what we wanted to do.

Our decanters just began with an email to the Canberra Glassworks with an enquiry – at first we were hoping to purchase some that were ready made but in the end we got our own decanters designed and made by Scott Chaseling. The team there are very cool – we love them!

Keeping with our local Australian theme we chatted to Ken and Crystal at Urban Jungle about a native floral installation. All of the flowers and foliage is real and it is meant to dry out and last forever. We also house and sell local Canberra artists work from Tributary Projects gallery in Fyshwick. When we are surrounded by local artists, producers and farmers, why would you buy anything else?

Pilot Restaurant + Bar is open Wednesday to Sunday in Wakefield Gardens, Ainslie.

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