Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including the GT Coles Finest Food Truck, Hawthorn Common, Plenty, and Mesa Lunga.
GT X Coles Finest Food Truck
You may have noticed we've been talking about our food truck quite a bit lately, and that's because we're so excited about the excellent free (that's right, free) eats on offer. The truck is touring Sydney and Melbourne this week and next, dishing up lunches on the go designed by GT's food editors using products from the Coles Finest range. We're talking potato salad with smoked salmon, shaved fennel and a buttermilk dressing, sourdough crostini with triple-smoked ham, apple slaw and a mustard dressing and sugared doughnuts with a choice of jam, blood-orange marmalade or native red-gum honey - and with the Eat Art Truck team behind the production, you know it's going to be good. The truck is in Sydney until Friday 6, before rolling into Melbourne where it'll be stationed at different locations from Thursday 12 December to Saturday 15 December. Come one, come all. Come hungry, leave happy. MAYA KERTHYASA
First it was Canvas, then Chester White, then Orto and now, with another fit-out under its belt, the first-floor Burwood Road dining space, with its excellent outdoor terrace, has morphed into Hawthorn Common. With George Sykiotis (Press Club, Hellenic Republic, Gazi) in the background and Danny Colls (of Cafe Racer and Silo) running the joint, this version looks and feels the best yet - comfortable and confident. All timber, tiles and natural light, Hawthorn Common has a slightly Scandinavian feel and a sustainable ethos that includes composting most waste, growing herbs in planters on the terrace, milling its own flour, rolling its own oats, roasting its own carefully sourced coffee, and even hosting yoga sessions on the terrace on Saturday mornings. So far, so worthy, but with young Italian chef Stefano Rosi (formerly of Vue de Monde) in the kitchen there's substance aplenty. Hapuku is teamed with a mint and kale purée, crisp trout skin, fried pea shoots and sugar snaps, and the potato and leek soup comes topped with a slow-cooked egg yolk. All the bread and most of the pastries are baked in-house and they serve a brilliant coffee both upstairs and from the street-level espresso bar. Hawthorn Common, 302 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn, Vic, (03) 9819 2200. MICHAEL HARDEN
The planned smokehouse, cheese cellar and full range of seasonal, farm-sourced produce for sale are still works in progress, but there's already plenty to celebrate at this recently arrived West End café hybrid. The runny-yolked baked eggs, served with roast pumpkin, feta, basil and a zingy beetroot relish, for example, are well worth a quiet hooray. Ditto chef Michael Hoare's flavoursome lunchtime salads - a fish sauce-fragrant Asian-style pork belly, or crunchy chicken slaw. The owners of this low-key former factory are aiming to boost diner appreciation of the cornucopia of south-east Queensland goodies, creating links between farmers and the community. No-fuss dishes featuring quality ingredients combined to maximise flavour are a great start. Plenty, 284 Montague Road, West End, Qld, 07 3255 3330. FIONA DONNELLY
Hailing from Murcia in south-east Spain, chef Eladio Jiménez brings a lighter array of bright summer flavours to the tapas menu at Mesa Lunga. Try a raciones plate of pimiento rojo relleno - plump caramelised red capsicum filled with dressed rocket and pine nut salad, manchego cheese and glazed with Sherry vinegar. Even though the 32-year-old chef spent time at El Bulli on the Costa Brava and Nodo in Madrid before coming to Australia in 2012, his food now veers away from fusion and kookiness towards more homespun Spanish flavours - including his grandmother's leek and manchego croqueta recipe that's a staple of his daily tapas menu. Mesa Lunga, 140 Gouger St, Adelaide, SA, (08) 8410 7617. DAVID SLY
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