Albert Park’s Pipis sails along swimmingly




129a Beaconsfield Parade, Albert Park, (03) 9041 2814

Thursday 6pm-10.30pm, Friday-Saturday noon-10.30pm, Sunday noon-4pm (kiosk: Monday-Wednesday 7am-1pm, Thursday-Saturday 7am-6pm, Sunday 7am-4pm)

Small: $4.50-$29; Large: $28-$62; Dessert: $15

Pipis Kiosk in Albert Park.Credit:Simon Schluter

For a country with so much coastline, I’m not sure we’ve worked out how to do seafood properly. More than 60 per cent of the seafood we eat is imported. Information on sustainability isn’t easy to decode. Farmed salmon is ubiquitous despite being blamed for environmental damage. Commercial fishers have been locked out of Port Phillip Bay. It’s not even that easy to find a restaurant with a bay view.

Pipis’ Ling FishCredit:Simon Schluter

I’m not suggesting Pipis is an activist – it’s simply a smart little beachfront restaurant serving excellent food in a charming space – but it does deliciously advocate for a better approach to eating seafood in Melbourne. The owners are hospo buddies Tom Hunter (front of house) and Jordan Clay (kitchen) who have transformed an old kiosk at the end of Kerferd Road into a cosy place to watch the bay’s moods while eating tasty and creative food.

The offering isn’t all shelled and finned but there’s a focus on seafood, much of it cooked over a wood-fired hearth. The “snack attack” array kicks a meal off swiftly, perhaps with delicate chowder, kangaroo jerky and fish croquettes made with the day’s trim, milk-poached and melded with mashed potato and tarragon mustard. It’s a next level potato cake.

The snack attack platter at Pipis KioskCredit:Simon Schluter

We often think of seafood as summer fare but there are sensitive wintry preparations here. Gorgeous sea bream is served raw with mandarin, ginger and white soy. Grilled swordfish – line-caught in Mooloolaba – is served with a cool-weather salsa of green olives, tarragon and dried apricot. Bucatini vongole is flambeed with Pernod in a wry homage to the Sambucca-flamed spaghetti that impressed Jordan Clay when he first started cooking. Sliced orange is confited then tossed with carrot and persimmon in a stunning winter-sunshine salad. White chocolate mousse is matched with sorrel sorbet and late-season fig. It’s typically fresh and zingy, with the honest, punchy flavours that are typical here.

Pipis also has a kiosk window for coffee and fish ‘n’ chips which you can eat on deck chairs or the nearby pier. The whole place still looks like a kiosk from the outside so the considered restaurant experience and appealing wine list is wonderful over-delivery from the get-go. It’s a credit to the Pipis team that it starts strong and continues to sail along swimmingly.

The carrot and red coral salad at PipisCredit:Simon Schluter

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