I had the pleasure of visiting Ben Devlin’s Pipit, 2020 Good Food Guide’s Regional Restaurant of the Year.
I had been asking Ben for advice and he has been an inspiration from my very early days.
After numerous head/executive chef stints in top restaurants (including my favorite Esquire), Ben is back in his home area in the Northern Rivers area to open his own restaurant. There he is experimenting as ever, with ways to eat healthily and deliciously whilst keeping our conscience healthy as well. The menu is sourced entirely local, mainly organic, with minimal red meats.
The starters were all amazing!! The baby vegetables from local organic farm matched with a smoked almond paste and green garlic oil. It’s such a privileged feeling to enjoy the delicate young life of these produce and just the tender sweetness and minimal bitterness coming out. The bottarga canapé with Davidson plum. Obviously cream and roe, touch of sweetness, tartness, can’t go wrong! The pickle roll with mustard leaf emulsion, intentionally swaying away from any richness, keeping to sourness and bitterness, I thought was a great way to stimulize the taste buds for the courses to come. The sourdough bread with cultured cream and macadamia butter was also great.
The first course, roasted koralbi dish. I was smiling. The roasted tender koralbi pieces are soaked in stock and the contrast of the crunchy radish. The richness of the nut butter adding another decadent layer. I would never have expected it but this plant based dish was my favorite dish.
The awesome tuna carpaccio follows. It is good quality albacore treated well with a salt cure but the combo of the tomatoes, the sour tomato plus the smoked cherry being bonded by the pea mash. The produce quality and treatment of the tomatoes was shining through.
The parsnip noodles with albacore mince. Beautiful presentation and a creative mix of flavours.
The bay lobster tartare. A local business has just recently succeeded in farming Moreton Bay Bugs and are marketing it as bay lobsters. Just beautiful. I tried cooking raw or lightly blanched bugs myself but I gave up on them because the flesh does not form a nice fillet or even a decent sized morsel to treat as sashimi so I gave up but Ben’s tartare was a great idea to showcase the delicate raw flavours in a beautiful way. The combination of flavours was awesome too using the mustard leaf emulsion to put an edge to it.
The sugar loaf cabbage with spanner crab. What a presentation. A mound of snow, creative use of shaved macadamia. A combination of exciting white coloured elements on the dish. The brown butter sauce was rich and amazing and wanted more!
The grouper was done expertly with the skin being super crunchy and flesh being perfectly done. Matched nicely with shaved squash. The grouper, and all bottom swimming fish, are great eating fish, clean, strong umami and pleasant amount of fat. The accompaniments were in their place not interfering with the star.
Some rock melon with finger lime as a palate cleanser.
The sapote dessert, the caramelized banana crisp was tasty, the coconut crisp was good, the sapote is an interesting exotic fruit with chocolate resembling characters.
The honey dessert, the ice cream was nice, and the merengue crispiness, the texture of it retaining crispiness while soaking up the honey almond milk underneath was great.
The menu. For the Saturday lunch session, you can either go prefixed or alacarte. I think it would be best if you confirm the content of the prefix or go alacarte to make sure you want to try what you see on the menu. If I could, I would have wanted to slip in the swordfish, the duck and the alpine style raw cheese dessert with pickled carrot!
I took away a lot of inspiration and was again stimulated with Ben’s passion and creativity. The potential of a brand new category, reduced meat gourmet plant emphasis eating in the making!
Thank you for having us and thanks for your gift!