One of East Gippsland’s dining highlights is Northern Ground, a gorgeous cafe by day and eatery by night that brings to the area a little touch of Melbourne. But the ‘Melbourne’ stops with the interior, with Chef Rob Turner’s menu largely utilizing and emphasizing the quality, local produce of East Gippsland and surrounds. As our first food adventure of our weekend getaway, the bar was set high and early on.

We both opted for some seafood options to kick off the meal; the Port Arlington mussels and local BBQ’d Lakes Entrance bugs. Deviating from the usual garlic and chilli white wine broth pairing, NG’s mussel dish was cooked in a bacon butter broth and the bacon presence further amplified by bacon pieces. Shut the front door. The fragrance from the smoky bacon pieces was evident as soon as the plate hit the table, and its taste was incredibly moreish, especially when paired with the fresh mussels. The BBQ bugs were hard work but the effort was rewarded with tender flesh soaked in herbed garlicky flavouring.

Not feeling super hungry, we decided on one meaty main and the other vegetarian. We thank our lucky stars that we ended up with the sautéed wild mushrooms: an earthy and juicy medley of locally sourced mushrooms, brightened by the zing from the creamy goats cheese and vibrantly fresh salsa verde. Bravo Chef, way to make eating veggies less of a chore! Far from it in fact - the dish stood out as our favourite of the meal. The roast duck breast was splendidly cooked, blushing pink and succulent, its sweet glaze teaming well with the juicy, sweet peaches and carrots.

Despite feeling quite full, we couldn’t not order dessert: a beautifully balanced dark chocolate and raspberry tart to share. The dessert was not overly sweet and served with fresh raspberries and plenty of whipped yoghurt to further scale back the richness if so desired. The honey presence was quite distinct and created a unique and enjoyable flavour profile.

Port Arlington mussels - with Luckes smokehouse bacon, Sailors Grave ale, Snowy River beach herbs and bacon butter broth.

BBQ’d Lakes Entrance bugs - with garlic & coriander butter.

Roast duck breast - with charred Picnic Point blood plum and Lindenow carrots.

Sautéed wild mushrooms - with Gippsland pearl oyster mushrooms, Meredith goats cheese, Warrigal greens and salsa verde.

Dark chocolate and Picnic Point raspberry tart - with whipped Gells honey and vanilla yoghurt.

Northern Ground Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Northern Ground

144 Main St,

Bairnsdale, Victoria, 3875.

+61 3 5152 1544

Disclosure: I dined as a guest courtesy of East Gippsland Marketing Inc. All opinions expressed in this post are based entirely on my experience and observations made during the time of my visit.