Another lunch and another industrial estate somewhere in Alexandria. Again, Miss Universe and I meet on the street to find today’s location amongst the chimney stacks and warehouses. There’s a storm approaching.
Lost in a backlot, we turn the corner to find the paved expanse of the The Grounds organic vegetable and herb garden that supplies the kitchen – complete with chickens (those of you who know Portlandia will understand why I was having a giggle thinking about Colin) and a children’s play area. Everything is sign posted, so you can’t get lost…
Behind some enormous wooden barn doors (we love these) is the bakery, a café and a fluro yellow “Research Facility” sign for the in-house coffee roasting and a giant blackboard with illustrations that details the coffee roasting process.
I’m eyeing off the Herb crumbed chicken schnitzel with house slaw and salsa verde ($16.00) that’s delivered to the mums with bubs at the table next to us. I do love a schnitzel done well, but I’m restricted by form-fitting clothing today to find room for it… silly girl.
We’re sharing the Confit ocean trout with pearl barley, green beans, tender stem broccolini, hand-picked garden herbs & preserved lemon ($16). Miss Universe loves this. The Tortilla of spring onion & potato, shaved parmesan, truffle oil and salad greens ($14) is the perfect something warm and a bit starchy I needed.
The Buffalo mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes & hand-picked basil ($15) is what I keep going back to for more. Cheese and tomato – simple I know, but I think it’s one of my favourite food combos.
We’re admiring our surrounds, mentally decorating the expansive homes we wished we had. Succulents and herbs grow from old food tins stacked on the shelves amoungst fresh bread and preserves.
We love the coffee counter that was once a shipping container and the big glass windows that open in to the kitchen.
Black clouds approach, children run in from the garden to seek shelter and we decide on a coffee to ride out the storm. I ask Miss Universe if she wants to peruse the counter up the front for something sweet… “Why don’t you just tell me what you want and I’ll eat half of it” she says. Pastries, cakes and muffins are all lined up in a row – alas there’s no lamington – the next best thing, Custard tart ($4.50). That’ll my next search, for the Worlds Best Custard Tart! *the coffee in the picture below is actually quite small, it’s not a giant custard tart!*
Then I was told time and time again just how good the breakfast was The Grounds, so I dragged Miss Universe back there with me one morning, bright and early – and aren’t we glad we did – by 9am the was a queue for miles and a lovely lady with a list of names and numbers already a page long. Blimey. Breakfast is served from 8 – 11.30am.
Ordinarily I would have gone for the The Grounds breakfast board with double smoked ham, avocado, fresh tomato, persian feta, poached eggs, house made pesto and toasted sourdough ($19) but Sneakers and Little Edie have recommended the House cured ocean trout with a fennel and herb salad, dill creme fraiche and poached eggs on sourdough ($16) and the Pork & veal sausages, free range scrambled eggs, spicy tomato and spinach ragout with toasted sourdough ($17).
The ocean trout is light and delicious… this is something I’d enjoy for breakfast or lunch.
The scrambled eggs are beautiful and creamy (the menu does suggest fried eggs). I can really taste the anise of the fennel, perfect with the pork.
The little sanctuary that is The Grounds is fast becoming one of my new favourites, and I’m not alone – so get in early. We’re bound to see plenty more places to eat popping up in the once industrial estates of Sydney.
The Grounds – 7A, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria NSW – 02 9699 2225