The Grounds

 

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The Grounds at Alexandria has got to be one of Sydney’s best kept not-so-secret places to eat. If your young, hip, trendy, health conscious, love coffee or just plain hungry it is most definitely the place to be, and trust me there are many many reasons why. But be warned, on a weekend you best be ready for at least a 2 hour wait!

Aside from brewing and making their own coffee, The Grounds presents a complete picture of everything diners are after, especially the locals of Alexandria. The cafe, bakery and restaurant are located in an old Pie Factory and the owners, Ramzey Choker and Jack Hanna have literally thought of everything! The decor is rustic and homely with wide wooden tables and vintage flair. Externally, the cafe is surrounded by beautiful gardens from which some of the kitchen produce is grown and it is here that you’ll find the little animal pen. Once again, a genius foresight by the owners, ensuring that yet another market is catered for; families with young children. 

On weekends, the Grounds markets add an extra special something, with fresh fruits and pastries available for sale as well as flowers and candles, roasted nuts and gelato. The staff are wonderful and are always willing to allow you to taste till your hearts content. Again, a brilliant idea marketing idea as while patrons are whiling away the hours waiting for a table in the cafe they can peruse and make extra purchases from the market stalls. And who can blame them! 

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The pastries alone look sublime! And they taste that good too, as does the freshly baked bread! So damn delicious!!

Luckily I used my brain and planned a trip to the gym across the road whilst waiting the hour and a half for a table (this was a very very good plan). Once seated though it was completely worth the wait! Sadly we missed the breakfast menu (which finishes at 11:30am) but the brunch and lunch menus were of course still available and equally as beautiful. For lunch I had the duck and pear salad which was filled with moist flakes of duck flesh, crispy radish and firm pistachio nuts. And such a nice big serve too I couldn’t finish it. To wash it all down I had the Banana Smoothie which is by far the best smoothie I have ever had! Sweet, creamy and thick, I completely understand the necessity for the giant, fat straw that it was served with. And I love that their drinks are served in mason jars! Very trendy and unique. 

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My boyfriend had a coffee first and he dubbed it the best coffee he has had in a while, very strong and full flavoured. Following that he had the lamb shank which was flavoured with middle eastern spices and served with wild rice. So much lovely flavour packed into a dish with beautiful, moist meat. Looking around though, the steak sandwich look beautiful with a huge serve of the house-made bread, caramelised onions, steak and pickles, Yum! On a previous occasion I have also ordered the New Zealand Salmon which is so perfect! Crispy skin salmon with moist flakey flesh served on a bed of quinoa and broad beans, mmm you literally can not go wrong!

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For those with kids, there is a great kids menu and overall the whole experience is reasonably priced especially considering the quality of produce and use of fresh, clean ingredients. Be ready to have savoury and sweet because the pastry display looks as good as it tastes! While I didn’t sample any of these delights on the weekend (hardest thing to do ever!) I have been told that the cinnamon and Nutella donuts are to die for! 

Regardless, I highly recommend a trip to The Grounds at Alexandria. Whether its for Sunday brunch with the family, coffee with your friends or just for a nice outing you won’t be disappointed. I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as I have, and I can’t wait to get back there again!

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Healthy Summer Salad

ImageIf you’re looking for a Summer salad idea then look no further! Here’s a recipe for one that I made almost by accident this week (I had a few ingredients in my fridge that were about to go off so I threw them altogether). This salad is fresh, vibrant, tasty and very very healthy and combines pomegranate, sweet potato and quinoa to make a modern tabouli style salad. It’s really easy to make as its one of those chop it all up and throw it together kind of things! I served it with dukkah crusted chicken (which I just baked in the oven, so no oil required at all) and it was such an amazing, flavoursome dish. Great for BBQ’s too! If you’re unsure about where to buy quinoa, most supermarkets sell it now but it can also be purchased from health food stores. Its similar to couscous but is a grain as opposed to being made from wheat, so is suitable for people on a gluten free diet. It’s very easy to cook, simply bring to the boil in water and simmer away (takes about 15 mins depending on quantities) and can be purchased in a variety of colours, any of which are perfect for this recipe. Give it a go, you might be surprised by the taste! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!!

What You’ll Need:

1 cup cooked Quinoa (Follow packet instructions and then allow to cool)

1 Sweet potato (peeled and diced then bake in the oven until soft)

1 tsp ground Cumin

1 bunch flat leaf Parsley (roughly chopped)

3 Spring onions (finely sliced)

1 can of Chickpeas (rinsed)

1/2 lemon juiced

1 Pomegranate (seeds removed)

Salt and Pepper to taste

What I Did:

1. Combine all your ingredients in a bowl together and toss lightly. Check your seasonings and add more lemon juice/salt/pepper/cumin as you’d like. You can also drizzle with some olive oil for a lovely rich flavour. Serve as a side dish for chicken or red meat or use for your lunches during the week.

You could serve this salad warm but be mindful that your parsley doesn’t wilt (let the quinoa cool slightly before putting it altogether). Tomatoes are a lovely addition and my favourite are the cherry type and pumpkin could also be used if you don’t like sweet potato.

(NB A helpful way to remove the seeds from the pomegranate is to tap it firmly all over the outside before you cut it. Using a wooden spoon is a good idea. This will loosen the seeds so that when you do cut it in half, they should fall out easily when the pomegranate is lightly squeezed. Be careful not to get juice on your clothing though as it will stain very easily. I have read that vinegar helps to get it out)