1. Pipit, Pottsville
    Photograph: Supplied | Pipit, Pottsville
  2. Pipit, Pottsville
    Photograph: Supplied | Pipit, Pottsville
  3. The snack course at Pipit Restaurant
    Photograph: Avril Treasure for Time Out Sydney
  4. Pipit, Pottsville
    Photograph: Supplied | Pipit, Pottsville
  5. Pipit, Pottsville
    Photograph: Supplied | Photograph: Supplied | Pipit, Pottsville
  6. Pipit, Pottsville
    Photograph: Supplied | Pipit, Pottsville
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5 out of 5 stars

Pottsville’s fine-dining gem captures the spirit and beauty of the Northern Rivers, which chef-owner Ben Devlin executes with skill and consideration

Avril Treasure

Time Out says

There’s a fruit plate on Pipit’s six-course seasonal menu that stops me in my tracks. Chef-owner Ben Devlin tells me that because of the region’s subtropical climate and the rich, volcanic soils, Northern Rivers farmers can grow the same exotic fruits that are found in places like Brazil. Placed on a frosted glass bowl is a segment of jackfruit, a slice of crème caramel-like abiu, the white flesh of the mangosteen and magenta-coloured dragon fruit. They are exquisite: sweet, juicy and pure-tasting – better than anything you can buy at a corner shop – and capture the tropical beauty and spirit of the Northern Rivers perfectly.

Though, the same can be said about every course I have at Pottsville’s fine diner, located on the main street in town, and about a 30-minute drive from Byron Bay. Having grown up in Byron, Devlin knows the area well, and at Pipit – which he and his wife Yen Trinh opened together in 2019 – he marries his love for the region with his experience working at Copenhagen’s award-collecting Noma, Brisbane’s Esquire and Paper Daisy on Cabarita Beach. In short: an ethos based on using local, seasonal produce, sustainable meats and seafood, and creating minimal waste.

Pipit’s intimate dining room is smart-looking and minimal, with wooden tables, concrete floors, and an open-plan kitchen where guests can sit at the bench and watch the chefs. Tonight, both owners are here: Devlin is leading the kitchen and Trinh’s holding the floor. I begin with Pipit’s Spritz: a bright, aromatic and slightly dry tipple with raspberries, Regal Rogue vermouth and sparkling. Elsewhere on the menu is a selection of all-Australian wines, beers and local spirits. A list that leaves off the European heavy-hitters and instead champions the best of Oz is a joy to see.

The snack course is almost always the most exciting at a restaurant, and the one at Pipit delivers and then some. A chef places eight various-sized plates and bowls in front of me with the care of a surgeon, and at this point his skills may come in handy, because I’ve died and gone to snack heaven. A potato and buckwheat waffle is shaped like a fish and filled with a smoked bottarga cheese and fresh herbs. Golden and crisp on the outside, with a creamy, salty and light filling, it’s my kind of waffle.

A paper-thin disc of duck salami made and aged in-house looks like a stained-glass window. It’s seasoned with native pepper and fennel seeds, and it’s incredible how something so delicate can have so much flavour.

There’s radish and baby turnips from Boon Luck Farm, with a green sauce made from all the veggie off-cuts, and a verdant winged bean bought from Johnny at the local farmer’s market, topped with tamarillo chutney and horseradish.

My favourite snack is the Japanese-style pippi custard, which is like a love note to the sea. The silky soft custard is exquisite alongside tender pippis smoked over a wood fire, and livened with dashi, a umami-rich bunya nut and shoyu jelly, and a smoked pippi dressing.

A course of dusky flathead tartare topped with persimmon and vibrant marigold petals looks like it could have been painted by Monet. The soft fish with the crunch of fresh persimmon is texturally lovely, and the black persimmon kosho underneath adds another level and a hint of spice. Sidebar: why are we not eating more persimmons?

Devlin’s creative hits keep on coming, with a dish of arrowhead squid and Dutch cream potatoes. Ribbons of slippery squid are entwined with ribbons of just-cooked spuds so it looks like a bowl of pasta. It’s twirled with a saltbush and nutty brown butter, as well as a punchy squid XO. What’s leftover from the potatoes are turned into a bronzed doughnut filled with a squid jam that’s served with cultured cream and beads of squid caviar. It’s absolutely delicious.

The next course features a slice of duck with quince and shiso. I like my skin rendered a bit more, though the meat is succulent, and paired with the sweet fruit, and aromatic, peppery shiso leaves, it’s a winning flavour combination. Devlin turns the duck fat into a caramel placed on top of a shortbread made from the bones. But just like Josh Niland’s fisheye ice cream, it’s not actually scary and tastes like a treat.

A trio of desserts inspired by Bundjalung Country follows the fruit. A macadamia milk tofu with a sharp wattle flower vinegar is interesting. Even better is Devlin’s take on the Parisian Mont Blanc dessert, with local honey and swirls of native bunya nut paste instead of chestnuts. Next, I crack open a shiny yolk-looking dome concealing layers of white chocolate, tamarind and strawberry gum. It’s technically impressive – MasterChef contestants would shudder – but it also tastes sublime with sweet and tart notes.

Before I leave, Trinh hands me a piece of paper. It’s a produce map of the region, spotlighting all the farmers and suppliers they work with – from Murwillumbah to Mullumbimby and Bangalow – and how guests can best support them. It’s a simple gesture that speaks volumes about what kind of restaurant Pipit is. One that’s an elegant celebration of the Northern Rivers with community at the heart of it.

Time Out Sydney never writes starred reviews from hosted experiences – Time Out covers restaurant and bar bills for reviews so that readers can trust our critique.

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Shop 4
8 Coronation Ave
Opening hours:
Mon 5.30-10pm; Thu 6-10pm; Fri-Sat noon-3pm & 6-10pm; Sun noon-3pm
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