One perfect day in Lakes Entrance, Victoria

Sodafish chef Nick Mahlook at his floating restaurant on the harbour at Lakes Entrance.
Sodafish chef Nick Mahlook at his floating restaurant on the harbour at Lakes Entrance. Photo: Richard Cornish

The Good Food team share their favourite places to eat and drink in their second homes.

You know it's a family-friendly holiday town when the fish and chip shops jostle with mini-golf ranges along the main drag.

My hometown, Lakes Entrance, is where the Gippsland Lakes meets Bass Strait. Four hours east of Melbourne, produce is a shining upside of this fishing village, with the day's catch available directly off the boats, and the state's salad bowl of Lindenow just minutes away.

Fish and chips at Sodafish.
Fish and chips at Sodafish. Photo: Nicky Cawood

There's a jaunty sense of pride as businesses bounce back from last year's double-punch of bushfires and coronavirus restrictions. Chefs are name-dropping producers and joining forces for pop-ups (Slipway Collective); hyperlocal toasties (the Local) and triple-threat tasting platters (Lightfoot & Sons).

Drive to the nearby sailing village of Metung for lunch, taking Kalimna West Road past Nyerimilang Park for views of rolling hills. Keep it local at The Local with a sweet and jammy Snowy River Black Garlic and cheese pizza, and a box of loaded, buttered kipfler potatoes.

The old-school Metung Hotel overlooks bobbing yachts and greedy pelicans – the perfect perch for a post-lunch pot (see also the Waterwheel Beach Tavern in Lake Tyers Beach for Red Bluff brews and wraparound beer deck with a view). Swing by the Metung Village Store for a loaf of Seasalt sourdough (Wednesdays and Saturdays) before returning to town.

Back in Lakes Entrance, pick up a four-pack of Sailor's Grave tinnies and a bottle of Lightfoot & Sons rosé from the Central Hotel's bottleshop to enjoy alongside prawns purchased straight from the trawlers (look for the signs at the marina opposite McDonald's, or try the Fishermen's Co-op on Bullock Island).

The dinner catch of the day has to be newcomer Sodafish for share-friendly super-fresh seafood in a relaxed setting. Alternatively, collect some of their benchmark battered fish and crinkle-cut chips from the lower deck of the ferry-turned-floating restaurant and shotgun one of the Esplanade's picnic tables.

Insider's tip: Nick Mahlook, owner-chef of Sodafish, says: "I love to get some schoolies [school prawns] from the boat and eat them somewhere near the water and feed the fish with the shells. Have a cold beer while you do it."

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The Local, shop 3, 57 Metung Road, localmetung.com

Metung Hotel, Kurnai Avenue, Metung, metunghotel.com.au

Off the Wharf, 51 Bullock Island Road, leftrade.com.au

Seasalt sourdough, seasaltsourdough.com

Sodafish, Middle Boat Harbour, The Esplanade, Lakes Entrance, sodafish.com.au

Waterwheel Beach Tavern, 577 Lake Tyers Beach Road, Lake Tyers Beach facebook.com/WaterwheelBeachTavern

Annabel Smith dined at The Local and Sodafish with assistance from East Gippsland Marketing.