April 11, 2019 / By Nicole West
You could be forgiven for thinking I got the title of this guide wrong. Foodie? Gippsland? But what most people don't know is just how cool this destination is! Long empty beaches, chilled out towns, endless water sports, stunning national parks and all only three-hours drive from Melbourne.
The truth is that this region is a foodie heaven, drawing on fresh, local produce like cheeses, free-range meats, organic vegetables and succulent seafood to offer some top class food experiences. There are also delicious cool climate wines to enjoy along with your food, along with boutique beers brewed locally. After a day exploring, get set to seriously satisfy your tastebuds at these top places to visit.
Sardine Eatery and Bar - Paynesville (image above)
The pretty town of Paynesville is surrounded by lakes on three sides, making it the perfect spot for a fun water-based holiday. Located along the Esplanade, Sardine Eatery and Bar was recently awarded One Hat in the Age Good Food Guide 2019, and for good reason! Offering a stylish menu created by award-winning chef, Mark Briggs, there's a focus on locally sourced produce. As the name suggests, local Gippsland Lakes sardines are a star dish on the menu, served with coriander and finger lime. There's also roasted fillet of fish with smokehouse bacon, or if you don’t feel like seafood, try the confit chicken and pistachio terrine, with earl grey tea jelly. Delicious!
Enjoy a leisurely coffee or meal overlooking McMillan Strait and Raymond Island at Pier 70. This charming restaurant offers an diverse menu, with vegetarian and gluten-free dishes available. It’s a popular spot to sip Mario’s special blend coffee or to enjoy a full dining experience overlooking the water. The brunch menu features tasty favourites like Belgian Waffles and Eggs Benedict and for lunch try the Calamari and Chorizo served with chilli, preserved lemon, pickled onion, tomato, wild rocket and potato. For dinner there's Pan Seared Salmon with Warm Bamboo Salad and to finish off the night try the liquid dessert, Death by Chocolate, featuring Vodka, Crème De Cacao, Bailey’s, chocolate and ice cream. Wow!
The Loft - Bairnsdale (image above)
Historic Bairnsdale delights visitors with the Bataluk Cultural Trail and St Mary’s, a Romanesque church built at the beginning of the 19th century. Also dating back to the late 1800s, is the building that houses The Loft Cafe and Restaurant, run by locals Mark and Kim Ashwood. The modern Australian menu impresses, starting with entrees like Hazelnut Crust Scallops. For your main, tuck into Chicken Roulade in Filo Pastry or Baked Pork Fillet with Almond, Fig and Apple Stuffing. To end the meal, appease your sweet tooth with Decadent Orange Chocolate Tart or the restaurant’s renowned Crème Brulé.
A small township between Bairnsdale and the Mitchell River National Park, Lindenow packs a punch in the fresh produce stakes. Vegetables and dairy products hail from the surrounding lush valleys. The Long Paddock, housed in a historic bakery along the main street, takes full advantage of these offerings to create delicious dishes like Confit Duck, made with elderberries foraged from the local area. If you pop in for breakfast, you’ll find old-school favourites like black pudding with eggs and local greens. However, the most tempting feature might just be the pastry display of pies, tarts and cakes to make your mouth water.
It’d be a tragedy to visit East Gippsland without sampling the local wine. The Gippsland Wine District is situated between the Great Dividing Range and Bass Strait, producing delectable Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Chardonnay, in particular.
Lightfoot and Sons Wine (image above)
At the Lightfoot and Sons Cellar Door, red, white and sparkling wines are yours for the tasting, with countryside views to die for. Indulge in a yummy cheese platter to go with your River Block Shiraz or Myrtle Point Chardonnay while you enjoy the panoramas, just a short drive from Bairnsdale.
Overlooking the picture-perfect Nicholson River, Nicholson River Winery offers a picnic area from which to enjoy antipasto platters with your wine tastings. European-inspired wines include preservative and sulphate-free selections. Try sweet sips like Botrytis Semillon and dry whites such as Montview Chardonnay, and you'll find yourself saying, "cheers to that," more than a few times.
We think you should know: The Weekender's travel guides are independently written by real travellers. We do not receive any money from, or have a sponsorship arrangement with, any of the entities listed in, or referred to in this article.