Did you know that a Pipit is a small coastal songbird? It’s also a pet name for Ben Devlin and Yen Trinh’s baby daughter who was born around the time of opening their highly anticipated Pipit Restaurant in Pottsville six months ago. Since then, the restaurant has already received a Chef’s Hat in the Good Food Guide 2020 Awards where Pipit Restaurant was also named Regional Restaurant of the Year. So impressive.
Pipit Restaurant is located in the village of Pottsville, 40 minutes by car from Byron Bay and 20 minutes from Coolangatta. The exterior is crisp coastal white with stonework and the pared back design continues inside. The palette of terracotta and Mediterranean blue tiling is soothing and feels a bit like you’re inside a landscape. You can smell the salty sea air through grand windows that open onto the street. Meanwhile, the open kitchen is a feast for the eyes, especially if you choose to sit at the very comfortable counter and bar (there are 12 seats). From here you can watch Ben and his staff up close as they prepare their elegant menu. Food is cooked over a modest sized charcoal grill. As well as counter seating, there are comfortable indoor table settings and an outdoor courtyard dining space for relaxed days and balmy coastal nights. The pared back details, the coastal inspired menus using local ingredients and the friendly but slick and skilful staff all make for a delicious experience.
The menu at Pipit Restaurant has one very obvious feature. Hooved animals are not featured. When I ask Yen what the philosophy is behind this conscious omission she explains:
“We want to celebrate coastal lifestyle and believe coastal menus are light, relaxed, friendly … and so focus more on vegetables, seafood and poultry over ‘heavier’ meats … beef, lamb etcetera. It’s also just what Ben enjoys cooking with the most too. It’s also our small part as a business to support sustainable food systems, with the resources/impact of hoofed animals generally higher than other animals.”
The menu at Pipit Restaurant comes in two styles – a 4 or 6 course set menu (there is a 4 course vegetable menu as well) served for Friday and Saturday dinner as well as Sunday lunch or the a la carte menu available for Thursday dinner and Friday, Saturday & Monday lunch. The menu changes with the seasons and sometimes with the days, it’s all about showcasing the produce and what’s great at the moment.
As a trio of food lovers, we recently enjoyed the six-course menu for a celebratory Sunday lunch. It was a relaxed afternoon with perfect timing between the crescendo of courses. This is how the menu looked:
Sourdough bread with smoked macadamia butter and kefir butter and Canapes – Baby vegetables with almond and fig leaf oil, fresh broad beans with cobia and bottarga tart for a starter followed by:
Kohlrabi carpaccio with pistachio and green garlic
Bay lobster tartar, with shell crisps, pickle and fennel leaf
Parsnip noodles with glazed chicken wings, shiitake and almond
Grilled sugarloaf cabbage with spanner crab and macadamia
Hapuka with oyster, purple peas and celtuce
Wattle blossom ice cream with custard apple and bees wax custard
There is an option to pair your meal with wine and to finish off with a local cheese board. The wine list features Australian and international wines by the glass and bottle from coastal vineyards and its’ great to see the bar well stocked with local offerings from Brookie’s, Husk and Jilly Wines. The cocktails and beers also celebrate local makers as much as possible.
Pipit Restaurant is perfectly at home in Pottsville. The modest by the sea design is fresh and simple which allows the food to deservedly feature front and centre without distraction or competition. The pared back menu showcases the local region’s outstanding ingredients and Ben’s craft at creating flavour and texture combinations with finesse and creativity leaves you curious and surprised with every dish. I’ll see you there soon.