Rob Turner is a chef from West Yorkshire who serves the kind of big-flavoured bistro dishes you would expect from the famous gastro pubs in England's north. Only this northerner is firmly grounded in Bairnsdale.
After moving to Gippsland three years ago to work as a food development chef for a manufacturer, Turner met a local girl and fell in love. In September he opened Northern Ground in Bairnsdale's busy main drag, taking over and renovating a rundown cafe. This week he adds dinner service on Fridays and Saturdays.
At Northern Ground, Turner has teamed up with the region's best farmers, food producers and winemakers to present dishes such as spring asparagus, grown on a farm 3½ kilometres from his kitchen, char-grilled, and served with umami-rich chopped confit shallot, goat's feta and gently spiced pesto made of carrot tops.
Even better is the signature dish of grilled ox heart Lyonnaise salad. Imagine fine slices of lean but flavoursome steak, grilled to just done, perfectly seasoned, layered with bitter leaves, lardons of heavily smoked bacon, sprigs of dill and slivers of crisp croutons topped with a runny egg. Served with a glass of Lightfoot & Sons shiraz grown across the Mitchell River, it is worth the 3½-hour drive from Melbourne.
Open Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, Sat 8am-2pm, Fri-Sat 6pm-9pm
144 Main Street, Bairnsdale, 03 5152 1544