This cafe-come-sanctuary for foodies and parents alike is close to the city, but there’s still a large dedicated play space for children, outdoor tables for al fresco dining, a permaculture garden filled with heirloom vegetables and herbs, a chicken run, as well as regular weekend market events.
Alexandria is one of those suburbs that was overlooked for a century or so… Caught between Sydney’s CBD and airport, its claim to fame was being Australia’s largest industrial area. Today those industrial origins are coming into their own with uber-hip urban renewal popping up on every corner.
Enter The Grounds of Alexandria. Housed in an early 1900’s pie factory, the warehouse aesthetic has been retained and the space fitted with vintage wooden tables, refitted shipping containers, steel frames and vintage subway tiles.
Based around quality seasonal produce, the menu is an international taster of hearty, home style dishes including Turkish-style Eggs, Zucchini and Pear salad and a breakfast board featuring Persian feta, poached eggs and double smoked ham
Executive chef, Lilly Fasan, is also mother to two girls – Zahlie and Lulu – which is one possible explanation for the brilliantly family-friendly dishes that your children will love just as much as you do. This is the kind of fare that sounds gourmet, but that the kids will happily devour with breakfast options (from $10) such as packed eggs in a rich tomato sauce with annellini beans, spinach, pistachio labneh and toast ($16) alongside other standard fare such as a side of fries ($6) and kids burgers ($11). Lunches (from $14) kick off at midday.
Although it only opened in late 2011, The Grounds is already a significant destination for families and foodies, so if you want to sit and eat (rather than buy from the Take Away menu), ensure that you put your name down at the ‘welcome desk’ promptly upon arrival. You can then take a turn around the gardens, check out the chicken run, spend 15 minutes in the playhouse, before settling down for your meal.
Our Favourite Bit… The playhouse and the farmyard’s newest resident, Kevin Bacon, the little piglet. This has got to be the cutest playground playhouse on Sydney soil; the little timber shack encourages children to climb out the window and slide happily away into the garden. Perfect for ages 2 to 6.
Don’t Go… On a Sunday – the crowds waiting (even at 9am) are ridiculous. Save it for a week day, if possible. If you’re already here, our tip is to buy your supplies from The Grounds’ Take Away Counter, stock up with a few additional picnic goodies from Salt Meats Cheese (see below) before heading over to the playground at Sydney Park, where there is also a cafe.
While You’re In The Area… Wend your way to the warehouse next door (but still on the same grounds as The Grounds), and you find yourself at Salt Meats Cheese – a warehouse filled with quality produce from suppliers around the world ‘at wholesale prices’ with fresh pasta making classes as well as a Galeria del Jamon.