La Cantina at Common Ground Project
La Cantina is the onsite restaurant at Common Ground Project: a social enterprise and community farm from the Mulberry Group, the company behind Liminal, Dessous and Hazel in Melbourne, and The Beach House in Geelong).
The restaurant is helmed by husband-and-wife team Lolo Hanser and Glenn Laurie, who both worked at The River Cafe in London – one of the world’s most famous Italian restaurants. Hanser runs front-of-house and Laurie’s the head chef. His rustic Italian menu changes with the seasons, showcasing the produce grown at Common Ground.
The menu is structured traditionally: an antipasti section of cured meats and cheeses to start; a primi section comprised of handmade pastas; secondi’s larger meat, fish and vegetable dishes; and a number of sides. You might eat ricotta ravioli in sage butter; grilled lamb leg with farm veggies; or a simple lemon, parmesan and rocket salad.
Dinner is a great option, but come for a long lunch if you can – this way, you’ll get to wander through the kitchen gardens between courses.
The space’s corrugated iron walls contrast with warmer finishes, including burnished wooden floors and an abundance of monstera plants. If it’s a nice day, try to get a table out on the expansive deck, which looks out over Common Ground Project’s four-acre garden.
La Cantina and Common Ground Project are committed to supporting local social enterprises. In the past they’ve worked with Diversitat, an organization that finds housing and employment for new migrants to Geelong and the Surf Coast.