There's only one thing to do when a former Vue de Monde head chef exits the city and opens a restaurant in regional Victoria – follow them.

Mark Briggs has worked at Michelin-star restaurants in his native UK and ran the Vue de Monde kitchen for four years. But in 2017 he and partner Victoria Hollingsworth packed up their city life and headed east to Paynesville.

They found a modest bistro overlooking a glistening sliver of the lake system that separates the township from Raymond Island. In just one month they created an elegant yet relaxed restaurant in which to plate up the best produce of the region.

Briggs has long been passionate about celebrating Gippsland produce and the farmers and fishers who toil to get that produce into kitchens. At Sardine Eatery and Bar the namesake sea creature is straight from nearby Lakes Entrance with heads still intact. Prawns come from the lake, as do bugs, while flounder can be found on the other side of Raymond Island. Local fishers text Briggs videos of their catch early each morning so he can start writing up dishes such as whitebait and school prawns with orange salt and jalapeno aioli, or octopus with capers, raisins and watercress.

Sardine also works with local wineries and breweries such as Lightfoot and Sons and Sailors Grave. Raw honey comes from Raymond Island and eggs from Forge Creek, just up the road.

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Updated: September 12th, 2022

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