To be honest, I really did not understand the hype about The Grounds of Alexandria. It was too far for me to get to and the menu looks similar to many other cafes in the Inner West. So why does this cafe gets the excessively long lines from diners across Sydney (think Mamak, Mr Wong, Din Tai Fung and Jamie's Italian lines)? Oh the long lines! Not to mention a waiting time of 60-90 minutes. Eventually I had an appointment around Alexandria and given the distance, I knew it was time for me to finally try it out. Was it worth the hype?
Situated at a former warehouse site and close to the Salt Meats warehouse (good place to check out as well), The Grounds has a wide open space that includes the cafe, a coffee school, a fountain and a mini-farm to name a few. There was also an outdoor courtyard that I went through before heading to the cafe. The whole layout of the landmark actually felt like entering into your very own Secret Garden. While it was a bit busy with the crowds, the atmosphere is actually a very relaxing place to chill out and walk around the English Countryside-esque surrounding areas with a cup of coffee. I'm sure the photos will give you an idea on what to expect at The Grounds. It is definitely in a world of its own.
Come on and jump in my car!
The Outdoor Courtyard
Which way to go?
This sheep kinda reminded me of Shaun the Sheep from Wallace and Gromit
Ngaaaw! Sleepy piggy! His name is Kevin Bacon :-p
After a good time exploring around the place, I finally made it inside the cafe. Since this visit occurred on a weekday, the queues were not as intensely crazy as on a weekend or public holiday but it was still more crowded than most other Sydney cafes on a weekday. For once, I was able to get inside fairly quickly but there was a crowd of people getting their daily dose of coffee. And the cafe was pretty full as well by the peak hour for lunch. For those who do not have much time to wait in the long weekend queues, you can also choose to order takeaway here.
What's your preferred coffee?
The Ground's guide to making coffee
Anyone want some jam?
When I got in, I just missed out on the breakfast menu and was around 10 minutes too early for the lunch menu. Ended up using this time to get a cup of mocha while the time passes by. The Grounds coffee was one of the better coffees I have tasted as it was not too bitter nor was it too sweet. It was quite balanced.
Mocha coffee ($3.50)
There was sooo much that I wanted to try from the menu. The blackboard menu near the entrance is the takeaway menu for those who are not too keen on waiting for a table. This mostly consists of sandwiches and salads so if you want something different, just bear through the waiting time...if you can. At the time of my visit, a majority of diners around me were ordering The Grounds burger with Chips. Upon looking at the lunch menu, I was immediately attracted to the Hand-made Pappardelle with slow braised lamb but around this time I have just started my low-carb diet so I went with the other tasty alternative. Thankfully, the low-carb conscious can be pleased with some decent options like the Confit Tuna salad, Crispy Chicken, The Grounds Lunch Board or the Pan-fried Barramundi fillet.
Take-away Blackboard menu
I ended up choosing the Pan-fried Barramundi fillet after seeing the words 'gremolata breadcrumbs and capers' listed under this item. The cauliflowers were heavily scattered with capers, coriander and breadcrumbs and topped with the fillet. It has my ticks as the cauliflowers were very flavoursome and the fish fillet was well-cooked. Overall, I found that this dish has 'The Grounds' vibe to it with its garden-like presentation. The meal was a pretty decent size so I was too full to try the desserts afterwards...something that I do regret right now!
Pan-fried Barramundi fillet ($17.00)
Some irresistible cakes to try for desserts
It is so interesting how popular The Grounds really is. The location is out of the way and the parking is limited so the fact that this place gets the crowds is just incredible. The outdoor atmosphere was relaxing, idyllic and picturesque. The prices are pretty reasonable with the main dishes and salads priced between $14 and $17. As for the customer service, I thought they were incredibly attentive and slightly cheeky. In my opinion I would have preferred if the breakfast menu was available all day instead of until 11:30 am considering the notorious waiting times and I love my weekend sleep. But considering how good lunch was, I have to make time to do breakfast one weekend as the menu looks very appealing. Will definitely come back for some chilling out time very soon. Just be prepared for those damn lines.
The Grounds of Alexandria
Bld 7A/2 Huntley Street, Alexandria NSW 2015
(02) 9699 2225