Every weekend without fail, coffee aficionados and brunchers Sydney-wide make the pilgrimage to Alexandria to stand in line and pay homage to the exceptional coffees and rustic meals at The Grounds.
You’ve had your warning: there will be a line. But it’s worth it – promise.
For those yet to make the pilgrimage, The Grounds is an eatery, cafe, roastery, coffee research and testing facility (yes, really), organic garden, and farmer’s market all in one, sprawled out across what was originally the Four’N Twenty pie factory in the industrial precinct of Alexandria.
In a suburb rife with business parks and factories, I would very much argue that this mecca of dining experiences has been responsible for the resurgence of life in an otherwise deserted area. It may have only opened its doors in 2012, but since then its brought flocks of coffee worshippers to Alexandria’s doorstep, and welcomed a delicious array of neighbours with open arms.
Explore the area by foot and you’ll easily discover them. They include: gourmet delicatessen Salt Meats Cheese, canteen Kitchen By Mike, health food stop Bruce Leaves, and the newest addition to The Grounds’ family, its after hours watering hole: The Potting Shed.
Even on weekdays, you’ll notice punters spilling out the doors of The Grounds. They’re here seeking its specially sourced coffee blends (all of which have been rigorously tested in their coffee research facility), its fresh, seasonally-driven meals (made from the heirloom vegetables, fragrant herbs, and ripe fruits grown at The Grounds), and its freshly baked artisan breads and pastries. Personally, I don’t blame the Monday to Friday crowd, and that’s probably because I’ve been one of them… on more than a few occasions.
What to expect on a Saturday morning at the Grounds of Alexandria.
The vibe: A bustling market of fresh produce and coffee grounds.
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Ideal for: That brunch date with mates and a day out with the kids.
Try the… Bacon and egg brekky burger.
By the way...They have markets on the weekends, featuring their own homegrown produce. They’ve also just launched their sister site, The Potting Shed, which serves dinner and drinks.
But enough about the daily grind, you’re here on a weekend, aren’t you? Now, unless you’ve booked in a large party (10+ is the going rate), or woken up at the break of dawn to make this trek (they open at 7:30am), you’re guaranteed to be waiting somewhere close to the hour mark to sit down for your meal.
On the plus side, they’ve given everybody a contingency plan to make the time fly. After you’ve collected your caffeine-starved group and added your names to the waiting list, you can pick up your first cup of liquid gold from the takeaway stand (sweet mother of god, there are portable espresso machines at work!) and explore The Ground’s weekend markets in the garden at the front of the building.
Shop for local produce and arts and crafts, tuck into a bite-sized snack from Salt Meats Cheese and other artisanal producers, regale yourself with a line-up of live entertainment, and keep the kids busy by introducing them to the petting zoo – home to The Grounds’ famous resident pig, Kevin Bacon.
When you finally breach the inner sanctum of the sacred dining space, you’ll be met with the rustic charm of the converted factory. Wooden awnings stretch high above, exposed brick of rich red surrounds, live foliage and healthy loaves of bread spill off simple black shelving, and wooden tables beckon you to prayer.
The food never fails to be fresh, wholesome, and packed with the flavours of their permaculture garden. Breakfasts of free range eggs rolled in crispy quinoa with asparagus truffle will have you salivating in the morning, while hand-made pappardelle with slow braised lamb and peas will satisfy come midday.
As with all seasonally-driven menus, you’ll never know which dishes will be on offer when you arrive, but you’re guaranteed to be umming and ahhing in indecision as they tempt you from the page.
Whatever your final decision, we promise: it will not require any atoning for.
Amen to that.
Address: Building 7A, 2 Huntley St, Alexandria
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 7am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday 7:30am-4pm
Phone number: 02 9699 2225