The Grounds of Alexandria, or ‘The Grounds’ as its affectionately known, is a Sydney cafe, restaurant and bar, but I think it’s more than that. It’s an amazing dining and retail complex which brings a bit of a rustic, garden-party feel to industrial Alexandria.
The Grounds are built on the space which used to house a pie factory. It offers families lots of opportunities to eat, play and explore as it’s been divided up into several ‘zones’.
There are two eateries – as you go through the main entrance you’ll see the gloriously verdant ‘The Potting Shed’, which is the more upmarket and sedate dining space, and if you keep creeping down the pathway you’ll hit the cafe and bakery.
The Potting Shed is my preferred dining option with kids. The tone is much more relaxed than the frenetic activity inside the cafe and the semi-outdoors setting means that you can enjoy the weather and the greenery.
They will even generously allow you to bring a few take away items (like the amazing chocolate hazelnut milkshakes $8) from the cafe to have with your meal.
While The Potting Shed is more of a sit-down affair than the cafe there are still plenty of kid-friendly features to enjoy. Firstly, the staff brought high chairs without being asked. Secondly, there is a sweet wooden swing at the entrance on which you can gently laze. Thirdly, there is a giant tropical parrot at the greeting station which occasionally gets taken out for feed! Lady AB and Baby 2.0 were simultaneously fascinated and freaked out by the bird.
In such an amazing setting it’d be easy to be lazy with the food, but that’s not the case here. The lamb shanks pie is satisfying and hearty with a flaky buttery pastry that flies off the fork ($22).
The chicken strips are a hit with the kids ($16) while the pork belly sliders are served on a wire trivet, skewered together with black charcoal buns and pork crackling.
Even a simple dish like the thyme-infused tomatoes taste of just-picked sweetness and elevate bruschetta to something sublime.
What the cafe offers is a takeaway service, an amazing array of sweet treats made fresh on premises daily and a small kids menu. Their cakes and tarts are liberally filled with creme patissiere and I highly recommend their lemon meringue pie jazzed up not just with soft meringue but also a raspberry, bruleed marshmallow and a little meringue cone.
After eating take some time to explore some of the other areas. There’s a mysterious tiny greenhouse by the toilets which looks like an eccentric tinkerer’s den.
The florist, The Grounds Florals by Silva, overflows with colourful rainbow blooms that will bring joy to any eye.
There’s a Secret Garden for kids with a small wooden schoolhouse replete with blackboard walls and a tiny little yard out the front.
A tractor for climbing and photographic opportunities with pumpkins!
The most popular family attraction is the farm animal pen where you can meet chickens, a pony and a pig named Kevin Bacon!
If you’re a photographer then there’s something to capture the eye in every corner. The Grounds knows this and that’s why they’ve set up particularly photogenic backdrops and Instagram printers in several locations so that you can print out your photos of your visit for free in 30 seconds. Clever!
The Grounds of Alexandria is a place that stimulates all your senses and every experience is imbued with a sense of discovery. The food, the aesthetics, the styling, the greenery, the animal sounds, the play areas all create layers of interest and engagement from little kids to adults. I can’t wait to go back for more.
- pram access;
- high chairs;
- kids menu in cafe;
- standard menu in cafe and The Potting Shed suitable for kids;
- play area and farm animals;
- limited parking on site, buses and taxis are the best option; and
- bring a camera and remember to print out your Instagram pics.