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The Grounds, Alexandria

Alexandria is not a place I go very often, but there seems to be a lot of new cafes, restaurants around the area. First it was 4143 at the James Barnes, and now The Grounds.

The Grounds is relatively new, situated on the corner of Huntley Street and Bourke Road, where 4143 is. It’s a relatively large area, it has a kitchen garden, café, takeaway area, research facility, kids’ play area and various workshops.

They take their coffee seriously here, there is a huge blackboard illustrating every step of production which I thought was pretty cool.

I have been here twice now, both in the first week of its opening and the place was busy. The first visit was with two lovely girlfriends, E and H for lunch. We rocked up at midday thinking it would be relatively easy to get a table, unfortunately we were wrong. It took a good 20 minutes before we were seated. There are outdoor seats in the garden, however, that’s only for takeaway.

There are two menus, one for takeaway which is written on the board above the counter and coffee machines, and the other for dining in. We perused the menu carefully, unfortunately breakfast finishes at 10.30 am – there is no all-day breakfast.

I really wanted the confit ocean trout salad with pearl barley which was served with green beans, tender stem broccolini, hand picked garden herbs and preserved lemon – it looked absolutely divine. Both E and H ordered this – medium rare ocean trout, and they both said it was excellent.

I on the other hand opt for the herb crumbed chicken schnitzel which was served with house slaw and salsa verde. The chicken schnitzel was thin making it very dry and overly too crunchy. I would have definitely have been better if it was thicker and less dry.

We couldn’t refuse a bucket of fries, unfortunately, it didn’t come in a ‘bucket’.

Drinks – juices and ginger beer are all served in rustic jars, which I love. Coffee is definitely what they are good at!

I was hoping to try the breakfast on the weekend with ‘The Mother’ and his friends. We rocked up at 10.30am, there were 8 of us, so unfortunately we had to wait a good 40 minutes before we were seated. We toyed with the idea of ordering takeaway and having it in the garden, but the eat-in menu sounded wonderful – scrambled eggs with smoked cheddar with garden herbs, roasted field mushrooms and toasted miche sounded wonderful, so does the brioche French toast. However, by the time we were seated, breakfast was over and lunch was about to start in 30 minutes.

Service the second time round was a little slower – they were extremely busy and under staffed. It took them a good 30 minutes for our hot cross buns to come and when they finally arrived, we devoured them within seconds!

I was a little disappointed that breakfast was over. For lunch, I thought I would try the Grounds Burger, dry aged angus beef, smoked cheddar, tomato, house pickles, tomato relish and fries. It was served on a wooden board with a knife right in the middle of it – the beef pattie was thick and juicy. It was surprisingly good, better than I had anticipated.  Is it my favourite burger? Probably not, you probably know that my favourite burger is still the Lotus Burger. The side of chunky chips were excellent. The majority of us ordered this.

‘The Mother’ ordered the confit ocean trout salad and enjoyed it. B ordered tortilla which was served in a grilled pan, and served with house-made olive bread and spinach leaves topped with herbs and parmesan cheese.

Thought the service was a little bit of hit and miss – still teething I think. I have yet to try their breakfast but am very keen to try. Coffee is definitely their specialty! Make sure you go early, like before 9 am if you don’t want to miss out on breakfast!

I do love the idea, the outdoor gardens, they even have chickens on the grounds! I do hope that the service is just a teething thing, it would be better if they did have service in the garden too! Nothing beats eating breakfast in the garden whilst the sun is shining!

NB: photos unmarked was taken by my Uncle!

22nd June 2012

As you know, I have wanted to come back here for breakfast, but on the weekends, unless you are there before 9am there is at least a minimum wait of 45 – 60 minutes. That’s totally and utterly insane and you all know how much I hate waiting.

I was taking ‘The Mother’ to the airport – a very sad day, as he is leaving both dragon and I for a few weeks to find a place before we all make the move. It was a Friday, and the place was relatively busy. Parking was absolutely horrendous but thankfully we found one!

I took my parents here, and they loved it, mind you we didn’t have to wait at all and were seated immediately. The cappucino they absolutely loved.

My freshly squeezed orange juice which was served in a cool jar 🙂

Dad ordered the ocean trout with scrambled eggs and fennel which was delicious. Generous amount of ocean trout and scrambled eggs, and the fennel was cooked to perfection.

Mum had the scrambled eggs with toast ($10) with a side of smoked salmon ($4).

I knew exactly what I wanted, rolled eggs with crispy quinoa ($16), I have seen many friends eat this and I couldn’t wait to try and it was absolutely delicious! Probably one of my favourite breakfast at The Grounds. The eggs were cooked to perfection, it was served with asparagus, roast tomatoes and crunchy quinoa – YUM!

Service this time round was infinitely better. The place was busy when we got there at about 9.45am! Can’t wait to have the rolled eggs with quinoa again, but I don’t think I will be rocking up on the weekend though!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

The Grounds of Alexandria

7a / 2 Huntley Street (corner Bourke Road)

Alexandria NSW 2015

Ph: +61 2 9699 2225

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Bread and Circus, Alexandria

I really love the warehouse café feel, really does remind me of NYC. Bread and circus is hidden away in the industrial suburb of Alexandria, behind Campos Coffee. Everything is organically and locally sourced, pending on what’s on offer, hence the daily menu.

There’s an open cooking area, you order at the counter before sitting and then food will then prepared and delivered to you. The atmosphere and vibe is very casual, communal wooden tables, relaxed space and plenty of sunshine which I love.

The menu is vast, they serve breakfast all day, and for lunch, there’s soup, salad plates and sandwich boxes which are ready-to-go or for eat-in.

I couldn’t go past the sandwich boxes (organic sandwich fillings with fresh cut slices of sourdough and salady side things), mustard mad biodynamic egg salad with avocado and tomato ($13). The egg salad was deliciously creamy with a hint of mustard, the avocado and tomato wonderfully fresh. I would probably have preferred the whole thing assembled but it was definitely tasty.

The salads on offer that day were:

  • balsamic roast capsicum kipfler & rosemary w/ kalamata olive & goats feta
  • chardonnay braised fennel & leek in parsley & thyme
  • fresh heirloom olive-oil sea salt tomato under basil oil
  • baked eggplants w/ coriander & biodynamic yoghurt baba ghanoush
  • spelt couscous w/ fresh fig & honey orange blossom & thyme blue cheese

You can choose one or all, half plate ($14), regular plate ($16), sharing plate ($25) and take away ($14).

The spelt couscous with fresh fig and honey orange blossom and thyme blue cheese sounded interesting so thought I’d get a half plate ($14) and what a generous serving it was! Unfortunately I didn’t finish all of this so took this home and this made a wonderful salad with roast chicken that evening.

E also had the couscous with fresh fig salad and baked eggplants with coriander and biodynamic yoghurt baba ghanoush.

With a side of halloumi ($6)

The baked eggplants were cooked to perfection. I must admit, the salad here is fantastic! I didn’t try the others, but I am sure it would be just as good!

Coffee is not served here, however there are fresh juices, including coconut and wonderful tea on offer. I did notice a lot of people ordering the ‘purple’ drink and it was the daily smoothie – it looked fab! Will definitely try that next time.

Service was definitely friendly, and the café is definitely child friendly!

Very similar to Kitchen by Mike, the warehouse feel, the daily menu. I can’t remember which one opened first, but I do prefer Kitchen by Mike slightly better. Thought the atmosphere and the food there was slightly better.

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Bread and Circus

21 Fountain Street

Alexandria 2015

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4143 at the James Barnes, Alexandria

4143 at the James Barnes is part of the Dedes Group. Located in Alexandria, 4143 at the James is a newish funky bistro and bar. I can’t remember what was here before, but I was told that the site was originally the James Barnes linseed oil and meal mill and 4143 is actually the number of the building 41 – 43, and hence the name 4143 at the James Barnes (there are actually two address for this place, 2 Huntley Street or 41- 43 Bourke Road).

There is a simple relaxed outdoor bar, and inside, a stylish, stunning refurbished old warehouse. I love the wood panelling, high ceilings and glass windows. It makes the room quite bright and airy.

I have been here twice now, the first being the ‘social launch’, where diners had the opportunity to try canapes of entrees, mains, sides, desserts and tasty beverages ($25) and second a brunch hosted by Gourmet Rabbit.

The ‘social launch’ was a casual event and a fun one at that! To start with the entrees: rare peppered beef with tonnatoo, baby capers and crostini, tender rare peppered beef which just melted in my mouth, the creamy tonnatoo and baby capers a wonderful complement. Probably one of my favourites out of the canapes.

The caramelised onion tart with goats curd and balsamic was nice but probably my least favourite.

The perfectly seared scallops which was juicy and plump which sat on pea puree with chorizo was excellent.

Four different canapes for mains, but unfortunately I didn’t get to try all of it. Duck breast on du puy lentils, spinach, brussel sprouts – I love the tender and succulent duck breast. I thought the lentils were a little over powering and there were no spinach or brussel sprouts on the mini plate.

Fish of the day with tomato crust, new potato and Sicilian olives was excellent, it was a really small serving. Tender fish, I love the tomato crust and the Sicilian Olives.

The braised lamb shank en crepinette on parsnip puree and muscatel jus and spatchcock with proscuitto, savoy cabbage, radish and caper on romesco never made it our way.

The sides, roast baby beets and beans, buttered brussel sprouts with pancetta were both wonderful but my favourite would be the brussel sprouts.

Desserts tasting plate raspberry semifreddo with meringue sprinkles, chocolate and banana beignets with grand marnier ice cream, apple tart with mascarpone cream and duo of macarons. I didn’t really enjoy the raspberry semifreddo, it was just too sweet and sickly. I was a little puzzled by the chocolate and banana beignets as I was expecting something to ooze but alas no, but regardless, it was still quite tasty – soft and fluffy on the inside. I tried the green pistachio macarons, it had the right texture and sweetness, but I had serious sugar load and could not finish it.

It was a good choice of ‘spread’, although I must admit, it didn’t justify how good the food is until Denea from Gourmet Rabbit asked if I would like to join her and a couple of food bloggers for lunch! I had a better ‘taste’ of the dishes and I have to say, I am keen to come back!

The day started a little glum, dark skies, but it cleared and sun started streaming in which made photos even better!

We started with the not so ‘mini’ wagyu burgers with beer battered chips. WOW.

It looked amazing and was it as good as it tasted? Hell yes! Juicy and succulent wagyu pattie, triple cheese, pickles and beetroot relish all on a toasted brioche which is from Fuel Bakery. It was excellent, however, I do like my pattie on the ‘rare’ side. I love the generosity of the sweet beetroot relish and the pickles a wonderful complement. The chips, crunchy on the outside and deliciously fluffy and soft on the inside and dipped in aioli – yum! We were told that the burger is their best seller and I can see why.

Entree: caramelised onion tart with goats curd and balsamic tasted better than what I remembered it to be. Crispy flaky pastry, the onion was tender, sweet and vinegar-y and the goats curd silky gave it that extra nice touch.

Seared scallops on pea puree with chorizo was still my favourite. Perfectly cooked scallops which was moreish and succulent, which sat on a generous creamy pea puree topped with crispy fried capers. The bite size chorizo a wonderful complement.

Mains: duck breast on du puy lentils, spinach, and brussel sprouts is such a hearty and wintry dish. Tender, succulent duck which sat on a bed of cooked lentils and drizzled with caramelised juices.

I was quite surprised that I really enjoyed the braised lam shank en crepinette on parsnip puree with muscatel jus.

Deboned, the shanks was incredibly tender that it just fell apart. Upon cutting the juicy shank, parsnip puree oozed and I loved the creamy muscatel jus. Diners have the option of choosing a small ($16) or a large portion ($28) – I probably couldn’t finish a large but would definitely happy to eat a small (pictured above) – and this is coming from someone who is not a huge fan of lamb!

The buttered brussel sprouts with pancetta I loved!

The roast baby beets I thought could be a little more tender but the beans I enjoyed.

The roasted chats, garlic cloves and rosemary, excellent. Crispy on the outside and perfectly soft on the inside.

Desserts…

We started with the tiramisu, I love good tiramisu and I have to say, this was pretty darn good. It was smooth, and creamy and topped with cocoa was just too good to stop at just one mouthful!

The chocolate and orange mousse with hazelnut biscotti was deliciously rich and oh so chocolate-y. A little too rich for me unfortunately, one mouthful was just enough but we all enjoyed the pop rocks candy which was sprinkled on top.

My favourite dessert was the bread and butter pudding with rhubarb and macadamia ice cream! Why I have not come across this in the past I do not know. I love bread and butter pudding and you all know my obsession with rhubarb – the perfect combination.

It was creamy, smooth, and I love the generosity of the rhubarb topped with macadamia ice cream. It was just heavenly and TO DIE FOR! If I wasn’t so full, I would have easily demolished this dish. Definitely worth coming back just for this dessert!

We also had a serving of affogato which was served with frangelico. Unfortunately I was too full to have any but other diners certainly enjoyed it.

There are two menus at 4143, bar and bistro. The bar menu which is typically your ‘bar’ type food consisting of pizzas ($10), fish and chips, wagyu burger, chicken schnitzel, steak sandwich and lamb pie all for $14 which is quite reasonable. The other the ‘restaurant’ menu which gives diners the option of small or large.

I would have never found this place if it wasn’t for Gourmet Rabbit, Alexandria is not a place I would go for dinner but no doubt I will return to have my rhubarb bread and butter fix.

4143 has a wide range of drinks ranging for wines, beer and cocktails. Great for after work drinks, or even a boozie lunch on the weekend. Thanks Denea for the invite, I really had a fantastic time, and thanks to 4143 at the James Barnes for hosting and hospitality.

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

4145 at the James Barnes

2 Huntley St Building 9

Alexandria 2015

Ph: +61 2 9690 8400

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Brunch at Bitton Gourmet Cafe, Alexandria

I was catching up with the lovely A for brunch and her gorgeous son, B. It was a warm weekday and A suggested Bitton Gourmet café and grocer which is situated in the heart of Alexandria. I heard they serve all day breakfast and lunch – LOVE cafés that serves all day breakfast.

The coffee here is excellent, skim flatwhite – strong, aromatic and absolutely wonderful.

Everything on the menu sounded wonderful. I was tempted to get the French crepes with strawberry and vanilla jam but I’m not usualy a sweet breakfast kind of girl. So instead, opted for the creamy scrambled eggs with taleggio, asparagus, with organic wood-fired bread ($16.20) and a side of spicy baked beans ($6.00).

It was a HUGE serving of scrambled eggs – I didn’t dare ask how many eggs were used. However, it was incredibly creamy and absolutely fluffy. It was an endless supply of eggs and at the end, I really couldn’t finish it all. It was just too much but it was definitely one of the nicest and fluffiest eggs I have had. I have taken a liking into beans, and the Spicy Beans were excellent. Beans with tomato based sauce which had a nice spicy kick at the end. It really complemented the eggs well.

A opted for the poached eggs on an english muffin served with spinach, smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce ($18.70). This looks absolutey superb. Perfectly poached eggs which oozed with yolk on a geneours serving of smoked salmon, and spinach. A demolished this, so I can safely say she enjoyed it. I know at one stage, she was on the hunt for the best eggs benedict in Sydney. Not sure if she has found it yet.

I love the wall of fresh produce upon entering the café.

The shelves that display Bitton’s own range of products – jams, dressings, oils ad chutneys – YUM! They also sell fresh produce, bread and have a freezer at the back of the café for icecream and pastas. A bought a couple of sauces – I have yet to ask her whether or not she has used them.

The café is very child friendly, apparently there is a section at the back of the café for kids – play area full of toys and blackboards.

I love the friendly atmosphere and love the food, which is fresh with a lovely Australian / French twist. The lunch menu also looked superb – spaghettini pasta with crab meat, cherry tomato and chili and garlic masala – will have to try that next time! Bitton also has their own cooking book and apparently offers cooking class which I am keen to attend.

It was so lovely to catch up with A and Benji – he was SO well behaved!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Bitton Goumet Café

36/7a Copeland Street

Alexandria 2015

Ph: +61 2 9519 5111

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