One of Australia's rising kitchen stars is shrugging off high-profile venues to open a tiny 40-seater in the small northern NSW town of Pottsville (population 6704).
The launch of Pipit on May 11 sounds like a Local Hero-type film script as much as a restaurant opening.
Ben Devlin, who won a cupboard full of awards at Esquire in Brisbane before bringing home the bacon in a four-year stint at Paper Daisy, chose Pottsville because it's close to home.
"I live here, I grew up in the area. I feel comfortable here and I feel comfortable with the people. My barber just walked by [the restaurant]," Devlin says, who's teamed up with partner Yen Trinh on the project.
The chef, who cut his teeth during his adolescence baking cakes at the cafe at The Pass at Byron Bay and washing dishes, plating profiteroles and discovering bone marrow salad under the watch of hisuncle Charlie at Fig Tree restaurant, is championing local produce at Pipit.
"There's a local Indigenous group that is allowed to harvest pipis. I'll be serving them with some kelp that washed up I've been ageing," he says.
Devlin's dishes look beautiful; lobster teamed with persimmon and shiso, and a feijoa sorbet amped up with sorrel.
If the room is cosy – with a mix of tables and bar seating – the prices are good value for Devlin's food.
"We're really keen to take on young people. We did that at Paper Daisy and it was great. Someone gave me an apprenticeship, it was really awesome."
Open Fri-Mon lunch; Thu-Sat dinner.
8 Coronation Avenue, Pottsville, pipitrestaurant.com