From Beaconsfield Parade, Pipis looks just like your classic seaside kiosk selling fish’n’chips. But once you’re inside, it’s clear there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Right alongside Kerferd Road Pier in Albert Park, the space is relaxed yet elegant, with huge windows, soaring ceilings and unobstructed ocean views. Whether the sea is flat, the sky azure and the sand swarming or the complete opposite – crashing waves, stormy weather and no one around – it’s an excellent vantage point.
A luminous sea-green marble bar separates the restaurant from the kiosk and kitchen. The neutral, white-walled dining room seats 40 on its light-coloured tables and rattan chairs, and another 50 outside – so dogs and sandy feet are very much welcome.
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“Everyone likes being by the sea,” says Tom Hunter, who owns Pipis Kiosk with Canadian-born chef Jordan Clay. “It was about trying to find a concept that fitted within the confines of the space and could give people what they want when they are eating at the beach. We are doing something that we really wanted to do – not so many bells and whistles, but still focused on really good product in a beautiful setting.”
And, in doing so, they’re being as ethically conscious as possible. “We get our fish every day, and the fish changes every day,” Clay says. “We are using bycatch – like the gurnard, which we use in a crudo. Most people throw that back. We do what we can.”
The rest of the menu also changes every few weeks in keeping with seasonality. You might find starters such as Koo Wee Rup asparagus with whipped tarama and Buddha’s hand (fingered citron) preserve, or sweet-and-sour globe artichoke with stracciatella, and mains such as west Victorian lamb rack or whole-grilled New Zealand flounder.
A mainstay, though, is the Pipis Pasta: bucatini with Goolwa pippies, smoked tomato and pernod (anise-flavoured liqueur). “It’s a cross between a really tacky dish I learned to make as an apprentice and a more updated vongole,” says Clay. He smokes the tomatoes overnight on the grill, over a very low heat – “I just chuck a log on and walk away”.
Drinks-wise, Hunter wanted to hero Australian wines. So, the list features mostly small, local producers (whose wines he likes to drink himself) from cool-climate regions: the Mornington Peninsula, the Yarra Valley and a smattering from WA and Tassie. “I always like to put them up against the great wines of the world like burgundy, champagne, barolo,” says Hunter. “I think it showcases what we do and how it differs from the rest of the world.”
“This place has provided people with a mini holiday. People come from the north side and are excited to be at the beach. So, some wines that remind people of being overseas are good too … a rosé from Provence, a crisp prosecco so people can let their hair down and forget what has happened for the last two years. That’s the ethos of the wine list.”
The beers on tap rotate to showcase craft producers like Hop Nation and Moon Dog, and the spirits are mostly Australian. Luke Whearty from Byrdi came up with the Pipis Spritz, using St Felix’s Bitter Citrus Aperitivo, pét-nat, salted coconut and clarified rhubarb. It comes with a saltbush garnish from along the coast.
Outside of the restaurant, there’s also a takeaway kiosk window where you can find topnotch classics such as fish’n’chips and potato cakes, as well as egg-salad sangas, fish burgers and ice-creams to eat on the sand. Plus, coffee, juices and tinnies to takeaway.
129a Beaconsfield Parade, Albert Park
03 9041 2814
Thu to Sat 12pm–2.30pm, 6pm–late
Tue & Wed 7am–12pm
Thu to Sun 7am–7pm