Many restauranteurs will tell you, that when plated with love, food can be elevated to an art form. But, if they’re smart, what’s on the menu isn’t the only artistic detail necessary to create a great restaurant. In Canberra, there are many venues that enhance every last detail when creating an exceptional dining experience, and what they place on the walls plays a big role. Taking their curation to the next level with museum-worthy pieces that have just as much to say as the food in front of you, it got us wondering, who has the coolest art collection in Canberra?

Such and Such

A restaurant thriving with colours, textures and patterns, Such and Such has much to say in terms of art. Designing the space with different art mediums from funky coasters, sculptures, portraits and paintings, each adds to their laid-back yet sharp approach to dining. One that frequents a lot of social posts from diners has to be ‘Oysters’. Painted by Magnus Reid, the work was commissioned by the owners and reflects their love for texture, colour and naivety in art. Unintentionally displaying a lot of work from their own collection, enjoy a personal touch.

11e Cave 

Onzieme’s next-door sister bar, 11e Cave features a mix of artworks from emerging artists and ones found through the owner’s personal collection. With a love for how food and art intertwine by both influencing and complimenting each other in various ways, they say they often find artists through wine labels and vice versa. Inside the bar, every piece from the large work you see as you walk down the stairs and the collection hanging above each high table, to the small drawings on the walls, adds to the bar’s personality and has a story to tell (if you’re interested in finding out). With the collection constantly evolving and growing organically, a series of drawings to note are ones made by 14-year-old artist, Art Tui. Hanging on the right side of the wall, each piece reflects the world as he sees it, through a quirky, humorous and insightful perspective.

Beltana Farm

A light and airy space with wood furniture, local stone and brown leather, Beltana Farm has curated just a few stand-out pieces that elevate the tone and identity of the Modern Australian restaurant. Specialising in Indigenous portraits, Matt Adnate’s ‘Eventually’ is a striking and intimate piece. Made from 200-year-old spotted QLD gum timber, the deep reds and browns are distinct against the white wall and fall into the same visual tones of the space. Alongside this work, Beltana’s other pieces are on loan from local artists.

Cicada Bar

Adding to their moody, late-night cocktail lounge bar with Japanese-inspired prints and slick portraits and art, Cicada Bar enhances your typical cocktail experience. Hanging in plain sight in a cosy corner of the bar is a mysterious artwork inviting you to look up. A family portrait of Michael and Tina Chow (Founder of Mr Chow in New York and a supermodel in the 70s), the large-scale black and white photograph is effortlessly chic.

Paranormal Wines

An ‘out of this world’ wine shop and bar, Paranormal Wine’s most prominent piece adds to that bright and playful atmosphere. While they have several artworks by Australian and New Zealand artists and collectives, the main piece titled ‘Everything’ by Naarm-based artist Matthew Harris is the focal point of the dining space. Featuring the world from an outer space view, it ties in perfectly with their branding and approach to wine.

Bada Bing Dining Club

While there are a few prints that ring in that old-school Italian culture, Bada Bing’s private dining room boasts a beautiful ceiling fresco reminiscent of the Sistine Chapel. Hosting up to 12 people, the ceiling is covered with a wallpaper the owners sourced from Europe and is a replica of The Apotheosis of Romulus found in the entrance hall of The Galleria Borghese. Owners say their intention with the room was to have guests taken back as they step inside, as you would in the churches and chapels in Rome.

Monster Kitchen & Bar

Created to be a cosy and intimate space with its moody fit-out and eclectic artworks, Monster has a strong rotating art collection with beautiful pieces at every corner. Located in the back right corner of the dining room currently hangs ‘What a Bunch of Galah’s!’ by Canberra artist Sally Dunbar. With a focus on print-media and drawing, Dunbar draws inspiration from the vibrant birdlife that inhabits the capital and pairs it with bold colours and a seemingly arbitrary combination of patterns.

Gang Gang Cafe

Running in the same circle as many local artists, Gang Gang has a glorious collection of art filling the cafe’s walls. With a mix of artworks on loan from their friends, specially purchased pieces and donations from locals, each piece is unique in its own right. Some current highlights to note include two works by their friend Rowan Kane (largest green and red painting and gang gang bird) who also used to work at the cafe, friend Joel Arthur (large stripey orange wave painting) who graduated from ANU art school, and regular self-taught artist named Bill (geometric and zigzag lined painting).

Walter Cafe

Commissioning a signature piece to elevate their interior, Walter Cafe worked alongside Sydney artist Pina Ambrosino to create ‘Walter’s Long Lunch With His Many Marion’s’. Inspired by and named after Walter Burley Griffin, the designer of Canberra, it was only right that the artwork reflected a piece of Canberra’s history. The elegant long table setting features angelic ‘Marions’ wining and dining amongst bold waves of colours that pick up other tones found in the furnishings of the cafe.

For more on Canberra’s restaurant scene, visit our dining page.