VIBE: On-trend eco and coffee oasis smack in the middle of Sydney’s inner suburb of Alexandria. It was once an area full of ugly factories but is now industrial chic. The Grounds of Alexandria is 1800 square metres of revamped space encompassing organic veges, a mini farm yard along with the cafe and coffee roasting at its heart, with three heavy-duty espresso machines and a kick ass coffee roasting room. If you’re visiting our city and want to go where hip and happening urbanites gather (ahem), this is a good place to start.
HISTORY: This extremely busy eaterie was once an old Four n Twenty Pies factory. The Grounds’ owners, Ramzey Choker, Jack Hanna and Caroline Choker have maintained the warehouse look. The fittings are black and steel frames, wooden cabinetry, white and green subway tiles with vintage wooden tables. In Sydney this pared back look fits the inner city vibe.
Outdoors is a large courtyard shaded by a pergola with long communal tables, surrounded with the herb and vege gardens, a pen for the piglet and a separate run for the chooks. Needless to say, it’s child friendly, and there’s even a spot where you can park your dog. There’s a queue for lunch. So my daughter Fran and I wander round the gardens, dodging children, who are free to run where they please, unlike other Sydney cafes where the presence of kids is hotly debated by the dilettantes of the latte set.
FOOD: We get a pleasant outdoors table (it’s noisy indoors) and order free range chicken with couscous, shredded cabbage, fennel, preserved lemon and harissa, $A17, and za’atar pita with slow-braised lamb shoulder, avocado, heirloom tomatoes, quinoa, parsley and Danish feta (which isn’t the best quality feta around) $18. The Grounds isn’t licensed but the ginger beer is zingy and refreshing. The crispy chicken is tasty and the bed of everything else is a tangy convergence of flavours. Fran is more than happy with the lamb pita combo.
COFFEE: Absolutely can’t walk away without coffee and dessert. It was such a bitch finding a parking space we need to do the whole experience.
Fran orders two piccolos at ristretto strength and chooses a passionfruit tart, while I can’t resist an orange and almond friand. The coffee is seriously good – a house blend that’s earthy and well balanced. The tart is smart, but the friand is perfect – orange flavour and texture is rich, intense and more-ish. That alone is enough for a return visit. Bill: $57 for two. And then it rains on our parade and we make a dash for the car.
CHECK LIST FOR THE GROUNDS OF ALEXANDRIA:
- Markets held first Sat of each month 8am-3pm
- Products include artisan breads, fresh pasta from Salt Meats Cheese
- Sells vege seedlings as well as coffee and meals take out
- Online store has a full range of coffee accessories
- Roasting coffee sessions are available on request
- Restaurant open 7am-4pm Mon-Fri and also open weekends til 3pm
- There’s a queue for breakfast and a queue for lunch… try off-peak times
- Not licensed, which is a shame, although we highly recommend the ginger beer
- Quieter outdoors, even with kids running around happily
- Address details: Building 7A, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria NSW 2015, tel: 9699 2555
- Limited parking on site. And good luck with that if you can find it. As I said, parking in congested Alexandria is a bitch.
*Fabulous photos by Fran on her iPhone