Since arriving in Sydney I’ve learned very quickly that brunch is a subject taken very seriously. People queue for hours to sample popular poached eggs and then take just as long appreciating them over several cups of coffee – a weekend ritual I’m quite happy to get used to. I’ll be keeping you updated on some of the best brunch spots I find in Sydney starting with my local, The Grounds Of Alexandria.
The Grounds of Alexandria is not so much a cafe as an institution. The whole of Alexandria used to be an industrial area but with the construction of new residential homes in the area, cafes and restaurants have followed. And boy what a cafe Grounds is.
Housed in what used to be a pie factory, the Grounds is a coffee roaster, cafe, garden and market in one. It’s a popular spot every day of the week but on the Sunday of our first visit we given given an estimated wait of 1hour 30 to get a table in the cafe. Dying to try out some of the wholesome sandwiches and side salads I saw passing by we put our names down and decided to patiently wait. Passing time at Grounds is easy though. We headed to the garden first and ordered one of the their speciality coffees (the Grounds also hosts a coffee research and testing facility), then sipped the fine brew whilst wandering the weekend market stalls.
The smell of fresh donuts had me heading straight for the cake stand. It was terribly hard not to grab a brownie, whoopee pie and donut but we had lunch waiting. Also on the grounds is a gorgeous flower stall where I first laid my eyes on these fantabulous rainbow roses – have you ever seen anything like it? We also popped into the Salt, Meat and Cheese warehouse next door, which sells exactly what it says on the sign, as well as a range of gourmet Italian foods and cooking utensils.
Back in The Grounds garden they also run a BBQ if you want to grab a quick bite. There is plenty of seating dispersed amongst the herb beds, plants and ponds so there is no need to wait for a table in the cafe if you are short of time. If you do have the time though the food is certainly worth the wait. My OH sampled the ribs (was impressed) and I went for a steak sandwich which was juicier, larger and more delicious than I could have imagined (the fresh beetroot thrown in was a real treat.) The menu is seasonal and sprinkled with the herbs grown in the Grounds gardens. The decor of the cafe reflects the venues industrial roots – exposed brick, tiled tables and cavernous ceilings. There is a drool-worthy array of bread and cakes on display and you can also watch the chefs hard at work in the kitchen – just looking at the cakes they had coming out of the oven ensures I’ll be back soon.
The Grounds is a terribly cool place to brunch of a weekend but not in a hipster way. It’s a family friendly place, with Kevin Bacon the resident pig being the star attraction for little visitors. No doubt we’ll be taking all our guests there this summer!
Building 7A, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria, NSW 2015