The Grounds is a reasonably new cafe, coffee roasting house and all round market garden set up in industrial Alexandria. A simple coffee, a meal, a wander through the garden or a coffee roasting lesson, this place has it all.
Taste – 9
Service – 8
Ambience – 9.5
Extra mile- 10
Budget – Medium (can be expensive for a breakfast if you’re greedy like Mike and get extras)
*Scores are out of 10
The Grounds: Overall rating – 45.5/50 on a medium budget
We had decided on doing a breakfast for this week, however, where was the question. Some old favourites came up, but a brainstorm and search over some unknowns took over and though forced decision due to Saturday ending and the Sunday breakfast soon approaching, we chose. The Grounds came up due to a friend of NN’s being a large part of its operation and ownership, so she’d had the “you’ve gotta come down and see us” a few times, plus upon research- it looked pretty damn awesome.
Many breakfast cafes are similar for the most part right? Let me paint a picture…
Circa 8am: opening is stocked with enthusiastic weekend ‘exercisers’ (walkers), coffee ready parents with hungry kids about to get their carb/sugar fix soon rendering the rest of the day: hyper-crash-repeat.
Circa 10am: couples reading the paper and barely conversing, hungover ‘first time daters’ awkwardly attempting to continue the previous night, anyone else wanting food and coffee without doing it themselves.
Menu: some sort of muesli & yogurt with fruit, granola, toast & spreads, pancakes, bacon & eggs, vegan breaky and ‘the big breaky’ etcetera…
What usually makes the difference is the staff, the coffee and how the food is arranged and it’s finer details. Or if you can get a seat.
The Grounds breaks this mould of this. Sure, it has a similar crowd, and some of the basic ‘cafe breakfast’ menu options, but it’s much more than that. The extensive coffee roasting and research centre ensure a great brew. The Lebanese feel of the owners shines through, especially in some of the menu options, providing a welcome and delightful twist to some of the standards.
I ordered what was essentially the big breaky in The Grounds Breakfast Board, with some sautéed spinach and bacon as extras (extra bacon should be standard on every menu. Just to anyone reading this who is considering writing a menu, ever- more bacon).
The different twists of basil pesto, assorted little tomatoes and Persian feta were a great addition, not only because I love these foods, but because they came from 10 metres away from our table.
Yes, at The Grounds they have their own garden to the left of the cafe that is full of fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables and space for kids to run around. Even some chickens and a little pig!
My meal was beautiful and having fresh, organically grown produce and free range eggs on the plate is reassuring when putting fork to mouth. As I’m generally aware of what I eat and avoid bread 99% of the time, I skipped out on that for the spinach and bacon.
This is a great tactic when dining at cafes- Avoid the bread and ask for more greens and meat. Starting the day with a carbohydrate heavy meal is a sure fire way to screw your blood sugars resulting in a crash later that morning as well as a myriad of negative patterns in your body.
Greens, proteins and some fat, in this case the eggs feta and pesto meant I was well and truly sorted.
After eating we wandered the garden, spied the fresh fruit market and ‘take-away’ stall making fresh bacon & eggs, and the pig. My eyes lit up on all accounts- more bacon and eggs, bulk stone fruit and berries and future bacon, in the form of this little piggy… luckily I was chock full, or I may have left with more food.
I will definitely be going back to The Grounds and certainly recommending it to friends, which means you guys- if you’re in Sydney get down to Alexandria and have breakfast or lunch here. The staff were friendly, the food is fantastic and the atmosphere and overall set up is awesome.
If you’re not in Sydney, but wanting advice on cafe breakfast eating- go for fresh and naturally grown produce and quality proteins while avoiding breads, cereals and sweets. Don’t be afraid to ask for a slight change to an order eg. baby spinach instead of toast.
Yeah, so I liked it. A lot. NN, your thoughts….
This was an easy one. LOVED it. Clearly we thought it was awesome as it has scored our highest rating to date.
My favourite meal of the day is breakfast – it always has been, and as the name suggests breaking a 10 hour fast with something yummy and wholesome holds a lot of appeal. But since I am such a fan I am also critical of breaky joints – starting the day with an unsatisfactory meal often leads to an unsatisfactory day – there was a lot riding on this meal J
When one googles the reviews on The Grounds the feedback is overwhelmingly positive and it has clearly positioned itself as a stand out, unique cafe-come-roasting-house-come-produce-market-come-community place to be. For all the hype and talk that is attached this place, it certainly meets those expectations.
First impressions of the place are awesome. The owners have revamped and renovated an old pie factory, which means there are huge amounts of space, light and places to put all their funky furnishings (if you are into design you will appreciate the quality and attention to detail that is evident in all the furnishings – much kudos to the Interior designer on this one!).
It was hard to make a decision on the breakfast as so many of the dishes looked delicious, in the end I picked the Za’atar based on the recommendation of the waitress. I have had this dish in other places and am not normally a fan, but this one was superb. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern dish served with avocado, tomato, parsley, feta and the new twist of quinoa and poached eggs. It is served on Pita bread, and is designed to be eaten messy and pizza like.
All the ingredients were fresh and full of flavour, and even though I’m not technically supposed to eat avocado (it is not allowed on a FODMAP diet) I couldn’t resist. The pita bread was, however, left sitting on the plate. Ordinarily I would’ve asked for the bread to be swapped with something else but it couldn’t be done in this situation so I just scrapped the ingredients off the top. As mentioned in last week’s post, just because there is food on the plate it does not mean that you have to eat it. Have the discipline to do what is right for your body.
If you are a coffee lover you will be in heaven. The Grounds have a research facility that test different types of bean combinations, and a roasting room to do all their own roasting. They even have two espresso machines (one for the diners and one for takeaways – brilliant concept), and a cold-drip espresso filter. I have noticed that the cold-drip espresso machines are gaining popularity amongst trendy cafes. The coffee produced in these cold-drip machines is less acidic, and so has a slightly more sweet taste, is served cold and packs a punch in the caffeine front. There is more caffeine in a cold-press coffee than a normal espresso but it doesn’t taste like it, so be careful when drinking, as it is very easy to get jacked up.
It has been well documented that a cup of good quality organic coffee has many health benefits, and as such I’m a big fan of a daily cup. Just be aware that if you are someone who has a milky coffee such as a Cappaccino, Latte or Flat White, then that is considered as a ‘snack’ due to calories that come from the milk. If you are looking to drop body fat, then switching to espressos or long blacks will be a good move as you get the benefits of the caffeine without the calories and possible reactions to the poor quality milk. Alternatively, try having espressos with a dash of pouring cream and a dumping of Cinnamon on top. As an aside Cinnamon is the preferred alternative to any chocolate being put on top, as it is a blood sugar stabiliser and an anti-inflammatory spice (most cafes are willing to put this on for you- MC: Maybe not small country towns, this can often lead to a ‘f**k off mate’ look).
After our bellies were full and round, we went outside and walked around the grounds and patted the resident pig. He has a very cool name but I’m not sure if it has been made public yet, so you will just have to go down there and find out for yourself!
Any place that offers coffee classes, has two espresso machines, a fresh fruit market, serves beautiful fresh food aaannnd has chickens and pigs out the front is a definite winner!
Your friendly food and fitness geeks…
Mike & Nards