Every bit as cool as expected, the Grounds serves up fantastic food with a side of eco-charm, and a swing set. No wonder its full to the brim with well healed young families and 4WD prams. For us car-less ruffians traversing to the Grounds is an investment in itself: you’ll find it sprawled amongst the technology parks and warehouses of Alexandria. On arrival we are greeted by an energetic matre de who informs us of a 35 minute wait for a table, and considering noon on a Sunday in the Inner West is equal to NYE in Kings Cross we consider this wait reasonable. Turns out this is just the right amount of time to marvel at the, um, Grounds; say hi to the chickens, marvel at how fabulous everything and everyone is, and steal a fresh strawberry from the garden (shhhh).
Although we’re taken with the surroundings we can’t help but feel a bit like we’re jumping on a designer bandwagon and riding it all the way to yuppy-ville…something about the manicured look of the patrons doesn’t sit in line with the earthy nature of the chook pen and the garden beds. Juxtapositions aside we are in tactile heaven as we explore the artefacts dotted around the place and nab the odd mint leaf to inhale dramatically. The inside of the restaurant is no less pleasing than the garden; brick and old wood textures complimented by farmhouse fittings all work together with that mismatched beauty that only careful design can achieve.
Unsurprisingly the coffee is fabulous, I’ve no idea how to properly dissect coffee flavour so instead I will simply say that the temperature was perfect, the flavour full, and it had an absolutely smooth finish (no bitter aftertaste – a pet peeve of mine).
Now to the really important stuff: fodder. We were both blown away by the food, it’s hands down perfection. We ordered a roast beef, marinated papers, shaved pecorino and caper salad ($15), which was served with two char grilled pieces of sourdough. The beef was rare and tender, the dressing perfectly balanced and set off by some fresh parsley and chives, the pecorino a lovely creamy taste and the capers the perfect acidic injection to pull the whole thing together. The scrambled eggs with smoked cheddar, herbs, roasted field mushrooms and sourdough ($16) has taken the very heavily researched title of Best Eggs Ever and got such a vocal response from my lady that I felt quite jealous of it. The lunch menu (11.30am onwards) prices range from $6 (toast) to $18 ( the Grounds angus beef burger) stopping off at a 4-deep salad section ($14 – $16) along the way. The breakfast menu (pre 11.30am) ranges from $6 – $19 and has some great sounding dishes like the breakfast board which is a pile of smoked ham, avocado tomato, poached eggs pesto and toast.
Overall the Grounds is great: one must be prepared to relax into the charm of being uber-cool, but this is a small sacrifice to pay for the Best Brunch Ever.