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The Grounds of Alexandria

  • Restaurants
  • Alexandria
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Photograph: Daniel Boud
    Photograph: Daniel Boud
  2. Photograph: Daniel Boud
    Photograph: Daniel Boud
  3. Photograph: Daniel Boud
    Photograph: Daniel Boud
  4. Photograph: Daniel Boud
    Photograph: Daniel Boud
  5. Photograph: Daniel Boud
    Photograph: Daniel Boud
  6. Photograph: Daniel Boud
    Photograph: Daniel Boud
  7. Photograph: Daniel Boud
    Photograph: Daniel Boud
  8. Photograph: Daniel Boud
    Photograph: Daniel Boud
  9. Photograph: Daniel Boud
    Photograph: Daniel Boud
  10. Photograph: Daniel Boud
    Photograph: Daniel Boud
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Time Out Says

4 out of 5 stars

Alexandria's mega-cafe is about more than just the coffee

Update: As of May 25, 2020, you can have the Grounds of Alexandria all to yourself. Gather nine friends, and you can rent out The Arbour (that's the gorgeous glasshouse bedecked in fairy lights), the cosy Bakery or intimate Lock-In room for a night, for $195 per person. You'll get a decadent, three-course set menu and unlimited drinks while you're surrounded by florals styled by the Grounds' creative director and head sylist. Bookings are available from 6pm on Friday or Saturday – enquire here to nab your spot.

First and foremost: this place is about coffee. There are two separate espresso stations – one for in-house and one for take-aways – which churn through huge bags of the beans that are roasted about 10 feet away in the Research Facility. The roastery sits against one wall and is encased in glass and looks not unlike the inner sanctum of Dr Evil’s lair. The person sitting at the computer controlling the two massive Probat roasters could be roasting coffee or may just be planning world domination – who's to say?

They aren't setting out to reinvent the wheel here. The menu contains elements common to most Sydney cafés. It is the execution that puts this place ahead of the pack. The sandwiches are eye-catching – slow roasted, shredded lamb shoulder or American-style tuna and egg stand out – and the salads go a step beyond the Caesar/Greek/roast pumpkin trifecta. The service is also a cut above. They manage the crowds admirably and project an atmosphere of casual professionalism that makes the Grounds feel more like a restaurant than a café.

When it comes to lunch, not all schnitzels were created equal. The Grounds’ herb-crusted chicken schnitzel is extremely popular and it’s not hard to see why. Rather than a single, flattened breast that covers the plate, at Grounds they leave the meat a little plump so that it stays tender. They fry them up to a dark bronze and then add a swirl of forest green salsa verde and a lemon wedge. The side of red cabbage 'slaw balances out the deep-fried element. Instead of a creamy sauce, the cruciferous salad is dressed with a seeded vinaigrette. If it just isn’t a schnittie without chips, order a side of the crisp, battered fries with chilli aioli. Fair warning, though: you will be facing a substantial food coma for the remainder of the afternoon.

Alternately, you could build up your iron stores by ordering the Grounds' burger. All your common burger complaints have been addressed. The juicy, dry-aged Angus patty is slightly larger than the soft bun's circumference, meaning you aren’t left with any empty carb at the end. Sauce choice can often be the downfall of a good burger. Fortunately, Grounds have done away with this problem altogether by just using them all; tomato relish, hot mustard and mayo. Add the house-made pickles and you have a burger NYC would be proud to call their own.

And now for the bad news. This place is always packed. Always. On weekends, unless you arrive at first light, you are looking at an hour’s wait for a table, and even on a weekday the lunchtime crowds from the neighbouring businesses fill the café – though the wait on weekdays is more like 10 minutes.

You have to hand it to them, though; the people behind the Grounds knew full well that they’d be attracting families by the minivan load, what with their huge kitchen garden, complete with chicken run. The simple solution? Petting zoos and jumping castles have both made an appearance on weekends with more surprises to come, keeping kids out from underfoot while parents mung down on a three- cheese toasty with rocket, tomato and balsamic and a coffee.

Right now, visiting the Grounds of Alexandria may take some military-style logisticising, but your patience shall be well rewarded. The service is friendly and efficient, the food is excellent, their thumbs are green and they are brewing up a storm of locally roasted coffee to top it all off.

The Potting Shed is now open at Grounds of Alexandria.

Written by Emily Lloyd-Tait

Details

Address:
Building 7
2 Huntley St
Alexandria
Sydney
2015
Opening hours:
Mon-Fri 7am-4pm; Sat-Sun 8am-3pm

What's On

Beauty and the Beast at the Grounds of Alexandria

  • Food and drink

A visit to the foliage-filled Grounds of Alexandria is always an enchanting experience. But ma chère Mademoiselle, get ready for your next visit to this Inner West haven to be entirely more magical.  A powerful spell has been cast over the precinct to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Disney’s animated classic Beauty and the Beast, filling the Grounds with spectacular scenes inspired by the beloved classic film. Come on and lift your glass and be their guest, there are also some on-theme treats and cocktails to sample on your visit. After all, no one's gloomy or complaining, while the flatware's entertaining. Access to this incredibly photogenic activation is only for guests with a dining reservation, so book a table in the Grounds of Alexandria Café (open seven days for breakfast or lunch) or the Potting Shed (open for lunch or dinner Thu-Sat, or lunch only Wed or Sun) and take yourself on a stroll. You’ll discover walls of leather-bound books, gargantuan chandeliers, magic mirrors, masses of red roses, and all the finery you’d expect of a dilapidated castle overseen by a strangely attractive man-beast (we’re all in agreement that his beast form is hotter than his human form, yeah?) and anthropomorphic furniture and dinnerware.  The whole aesthetic should serve as a nice taster for what we can expect from the Grounds ballroom-like event space, one of two new venues the group is opening in South Eveleigh.  On the menu you’ll find the Belle of the Ball mini cake, a coconu

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