In Short: The Grounds have 3 cafes to choose from. Superb coffee coupled with expertly made food. Sprawling 1-acre site devoted to all things food. Come early on the weekends, or gather a few friends and book ahead.
When I think of a visit to the The Grounds Alexandria, I liken it to an event rather than a casual jump-into-the-car-and-grab-a-meal affair. Don’t get me wrong, yes you can still drop by and grab a take-way, but then you would be missing out on an experience. The Grounds in Alexandria has morphed into what can only described as a tourist destination.
There’s a trio of cafes in operation, a mini farm featuring Kevin Bacon, the resident pig, and a cast of his farm friends, various food and drink carts, weekend markets, and an outdoor dining area. I am sure I am missing out on other attractions, but it’s literally a culinary playground. I would classify a cafe as bustling when there’s 50-60 people dining. At The Grounds on a busy day, there would literally be upwards of 500-600 people at the venue.
We had friends who had traveled into Sydney from the US for a holiday, so it was only natural that we chose a cafe that was kid friendly, and big enough to house 11 of us. One of the advantages of dining at The Grounds is that if you have a large party, you can book a space in advance. We were fortunate enough to be given a room with a long, communal table. The area was perfect as 5 of our party were kids; there was room for them to play with one another, and the adults could still have a conversation without getting into a shouting match.
As is the norm, drinks were ordered as soon as we took our seats. I customarily choose a pour over to start off the morning. With beautiful light filling the room, it illuminated my tumbler, and the golden hues of my filtered coffee were just irresistible. It was a Guatemela Santa Clara Single Origin coffee, hand picked and grown at an elevation of between 1600-1800 metres. The flavour is reminiscent of sweet cherry, honey, and kiwi fruit. I tasted a similar Guatemalan at Double Cross Espresso and they are both similar in flavour profiles and some of the best pour overs I have tasted.
I encourage my US buddy to give me the low-down on her chai latte. She’s hesitant to offer up her opinion, but after some encouragement (aka nagging!) she comments that it’s not too sweet, with a distinct spicy flavour, light and creamy, and well balanced. It’s a beautifully adorned latte, with a cinnamon stick and star anise sitting atop the drink.
As we reminisce about days gone by when we were all in living in the same city, we experience the most delightful of interruptions as our food is served. Crab and omelettes stop me in my tracks. The Grounds present a delicious looking crescent shaped King Crab omelette. Peel back the fluffy egg, and the sweet crab is revealed; it’s luxurious, with that distinct taste of the sea, and expertly seasoned which accentuates the flavour of the crab. Accompanying the egg and crab are slivers of thinly carved zucchini and squash. Herbs, comprising of dill and parsley, add another dimension of flavour.
Our little Coco and Viner Sammi’s usual Saturday treat at home is waffles, so not wanting to stray from tradition, she tucks into her toasted Belgian waffles with blackberry and apple compote and cinnamon mascarpone. I sneak a couple of nibbles of her meal…well, it was a generous serve after all! The waffles are light and fluffy, with that crispy, toasty outer layer, and deep recesses that house nice little mounds of the compote. Speaking of the compote, it’s got that sharpness of berries, yet still sweet; just perfectly balanced. Pistachios bring their distinct nutty, savoury flavour to the dish. It’s as good a dish for the kids, as it is for the grown ups.
Rounding out the trio of fabulous dishes, we couldn’t go past trying the breakfast burger with polenta chips. While its called The Breakfast burger, The Grounds’ version is anything but! It consists of generous serves of bacon, a fried egg, lettuce, avocado and a delicious mayo, all sandwiched between a light and fluffy brioche bun that is so yummy it could be eaten on its own. The generous burger is then paired with chubby, rectangular pieces of polenta chips that are fried till golden, crispy on the outside, smooth and creamy on the inside. It’s a burger that really stands out. The visual appeal of the logs of polenta, and streaks of bacon, definitely make it a winner in our books!
Once I have seen that our friends have sufficiently broken their fast, I begin my inquisition on the state of their cappuccino. Luckily not much twisting of arms is required as they effuse praise on a beautifully constructed coffee. Dark with a perfect frothy top, it is coffee flavour first with sweet notes and a milk chocolate finish.
I myself cannot go past one last coffee and order a flat white. Like the cappuccino, it delivers a robust yet balanced flavour, starting out strong, and with a creamy and nutty finish. It was pure, smooth liquid goodness.
After a splendid morning catching up with friends, the cherry on the top was the opportunity to sample well thought-out food, with outstanding attention to detail in the making of their coffees. What elevates The Grounds to next-level status is then being able to walk The Grounds entertaining the kids at the the farm, or checking out the wares at the weekend markets. The day never has to end with last drinks at The Grounds.