On the corner of Limestone and Ellenborough Streets is a complex of stately red brick buildings. These heritage listed behemoths were built a century ago to house the Technical College, but they’re now a precinct offering some of the best food and drink in Ipswich. Walking between these tall buildings has a labyrinthine feel to it, but you won’t be lost for long in these alleyways – just follow the signs to the venue of your choice.
When the laneway opens up into a courtyard of people eating and drinking against a backdrop of arch windows, you’ve reached Pumpyard. It takes its name from the natural spring that was located on the site back in 1862. Locals would come to the pumpyard for buckets of fresh, local water. Now they come to Pumpyard for fresh, local beer (unfortunately not available in buckets).
When you enter the main bar area of Pumpyard, the first thing to catch your eye is the row of brewing tanks lining the walls. Pumpyard shares the space with 4 Hearts Brewing, and more than half of the 12 beer and cider options available on tap were brewed right there. The core range of 4 Hearts beers is always available on tap, as well as a few 4 Hearts small batch and seasonal brews, with offerings from other breweries filling the remaining taps.
While the main benefit of the on-site brewery is fresh, quality beer, the brewing tanks also add to the industrial vibe of Pumpyard. The majority of the decor is old world – rustic redbrick, beaten metal light shades, iron pipework lamps, and worn leather Chesterfield lounges – reminding you of the building’s past. Even the bar itself boasts local heritage, skilfully built from whole lengths of timber from a nearby bridge. But the shiny stainless steel tanks give you confidence there’s nothing outdated about this place.
The venue can cater for more than 200 people across the main bar room, a few side rooms (one of which contains five bright beer tanks and is available for private functions) and the open courtyard areas. While quality beer is the main attraction here, Pumpyard also has a a solid range of local wines and a collection of crafted spirits that are a cut above the standard offerings of many venues. The food menu is a struggle to choose from too; the chefs take American BBQ and pub fare up a notch, adding their own flair to the burgers, pizzas, and wings, while incorporating 4 Hearts beers into some of the menu items.
If you’re looking to impress the in-laws with something a little more formal than the laid-back vibe of Pumpyard, head to the next building and indulge in the sophisticated Dovetails Restaurant. Dovetails has an elegant, modern feel, with polished timber floors throughout, a white marble bar fronted with black tiles, and warm light washing over the dining area. The building’s heritage is not lost, though – the Technical College history shines in the finer details. A close look at the wooden beams will reveal strings of students’ names engraved in the timber, and the ceiling is a kaleidoscopic etching of images of technical instruments.
Between the slick black leather seating inside, and the al fresco balcony seating under a 100-year-old Poinciana tree, choose your favourite spot to settle in and check out the menu. (There’s also the Lord Lamington Suite upstairs if you need a function room for an event.) The Dovetails menu changes regularly to make the most of local seasonal ingredients, but always includes fresh seafood, premium steaks and an array of French-inspired dishes made with quality produce.
Of course, you’ll need something special to drink alongside this snazzy food. There are four taps of the good stuff from 4 Hearts, so wash down your Oysters Kilpatrick with some New World Pilsner, or your Wagyu Steak with a schooner of Red IPA. Or, if anyone in your party isn’t interested in beer, there’s bottled cider, a quality wine list and top shelf spirits and cocktails available, too.
The dessert options at Dovetails range from the delicate to the decadent, each one a work of art. But then, you might prefer to head back over to Pumpyard for beer ice cream and deep fried Oreos in stout chocolate sauce, which are a whole different kind of masterpiece...