Just as transparent is the sourcing policy of no beef or lamb, and a concentration on sustainable fish and seafood and local vegetables. Everything is done in-house, from wood-fired sourdough ($4.50) to its butter of smoked macadamia and spent beer grain. A selection of snacks ($8 a person) runs to a fragile shortcrust tartlet of smoked mullet dip, a tiny green mango preserved like an olive, and crudites of crisp, raw cucumber, wing beans, baby kohlrabi and baby ridged gourd, with a delicious almond and green garlic cream.
A close relationship with Northern Rivers producers Piccone Exotics and Palisa Anderson’s Boon Luck Farm has turned the kitchen into a rapid-response unit, as rare, short-run or windfall fruit and vegetables land on the doorstep.
This week’s fetish is the Brazilian cherry; a puffy little scarlet bauble that cooks down into a threateningly dark chutney of controlled heat and wine-gum fruitiness. It comes with the star dish, a glazed and grilled bay lobster, or Moreton Bay bug, from Bay Lobster Producers in nearby Chinderah ($40) that’s sliced and splayed across the plate. To one side are broad, flat ribbons of potato cooked in buttery whey; an unexpected joy that cleaves naturally to a clean, rounded, Fetherston chardonnay from the Yarra Valley ($16/$70).
Locally caught fish are allowed to shine with just a pre-seasoning in kelp or a brine. Thick slashes of corned moon fish, for instance, are teamed with pickles, tamarillo ketchup, chickpea koji and lovely, thick, pudgy, grill-marked corn flatbread ($26).
A deceptively simple wedge of sugarloaf cabbage, grilled over coals, is a minefield of concealed richness, interleaved with crab and macadamia cream ($32).
Devlin then sends out a slice of dragon fruit the colour of raspberry jelly that’s like eating fragrance rather than flesh. There is another dessert – a rubble of spent beer grain parfait with custard apple and a gloopy wattleseed ganache ($14) – but it pales beside the perfectly ripe tropical fruit. Which is as it should be.
I like the smell of smoke in the air, the inner workings on show, and even the odd curious fly in the air. It’s thrilling to see Australian chefs properly own our coast as their primary source and inspiration. This isn’t just a skilful chef opening a very appealing seaside restaurant; it’s a template, to build the future of Australian cuisine on our strengths.
Address: 8 Coronation Avenue, Pottsville, 0490 380 117, pipitrestaurant.com
Open: Lunch Fri-Mon from noon; dinner Thu-Sat 6-10pm
Vegetarian: Three smaller dishes, one larger dish, plus a dedicated set menu
Drinks: Smart wine list with an emphasis on vineyards in coastal regions, and plenty by the glass for designated drinkers.
Cost: About $150 for two, plus drinks
Go-to dish: Glazed Bay lobster with potato noodles, $40
Pro-tip: Try for a ringside counter stool, opposite the grill action
Terry Durack is chief restaurant critic for The Sydney Morning Herald and senior reviewer for the Good Food Guide. This rating is based on the Good Food Guide scoring system.