The Grounds of Alexandria: Sydney’s Best Family-Friendly Cafes

The Grounds of Alexandria 1

Please say g’day to Maxabella who’s guest posting on the blog this fine morning.

Maxabella Loves was one of the first blogs I ever read and loved. The quirky sense of humour, the warmth and humanity and wit, and the beautiful images on Maxabella Loves make it one of Australia’s finest. It’s a delight to have this post here today, I laughed out loud when I read it and you will too.

And what better day than a Friday to have our bloggy neighbour over? It’s the perfect day to visit Maxabella Loves to check out all the great posts linked in to the Weekend Rewind.

See you over there.

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Destination: The Grounds, Alexandria

Have you heard of the “destination café”? These are cafés where the coffee, food and, of course, atmosphere are an experience worth travelling long distances for – sort of like travelling to a theme park or a first-class museum. It’s a big ask, but a place like The Grounds  delivers in spades. Like, real, actual spades as well as the metaphorical kind.

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Just a couple of years ago The Grounds grounds (sorry, couldn’t resist) were a derelict heritage-listed warehouse on the factory-swamped corner of Huntley Ave and Bourke Street in Alexandria.

With presumably a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears, the place has been transformed into an eco-friendly hipster paradise. Sustainable, carefully arranged food, single-origin hand-roasted coffee, an in-house bakery that bellows “rustic and local” across the homemade-jam laden counters and more, so much more.

Cute vintage finds and artfully displayed vignettes grow like weeds in the massive courtyard that spills from the front of the bustling café.

Did I say bustling? What I meant was the busy, busy, busy, excuse-me-while-I-squeeze-past-you café. Yes, it would be so easy to hate this place if you hadn’t fallen utterly in love with it the minute your eyes met across its crowded room.

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It’s the kind of dining experience that shouldn’t be even remotely accessible for anyone with a child under 27, but it is; it really is. There’s a picket-fenced playground (beware, not fenced enough – lots of walls to climb here) complete with a chalk-grafftied playhouse with a slide that sees kids whizzing out the window.

There’s even a rusty trike circa 1968 that has a front wheel so bent that even the most athletic of children will not escape before you’ve downed your latte from the coffee and pastry shack conveniently placed right next door.

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There is also Kevin Bacon, the resident pig, and his trusty sidekicks the rooster, the chicken and the goat. Oh my, this set-up is any mum’s café nirvana – great coffee and something real and hearty to entertain the kids while you drink it.

You can order take away from inside and eat out under the substantial pergolas and hidden-places within the grounds, or bunker inside the café itself, where the kitchen is theatre and the crowd forgiving. But really, you’d be mad to go inside if you’re toting the kids – outside is just so darn wonderful.

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Did I mention the BBQ, serving spit-roasted lamb rolls, chorizo sandwiches and a bacon and egg brioche with spicy tomato relish, all chargrilled in the backyard by burly boys with cheeky grins?

You can order right over the counter without taking your eyes off the little ones throwing coins in the fountain or dancing along the wide checkboard-floor spaces. There’s also a lemonade stand (“lemonade 5” says the sign – that’s dollars, not cents… ) and carts peddling goods baked onsite, organic fruit and vegies, the house-made jam and flowers arranged by Florals by Silvia, also in-house. This place is more a community than a café.

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So, go, okay. I may be gushing, but that’s only because the second we left I wanted to go back. It’s a feeling I last experienced at Disneyland Paris, so you’ll forgive me for my over-the-top romance with this place. It’s all that and homemade sauce.

The only thing that would bring me back to earth would be the parking, oh dear god, the parking. It’s bad, really, really bad. So, you know, walk there if you have to…

(Editor’s note: see parking advice on the Grounds website here.)

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The Grounds, Alexandria

Building 7, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria,

Phone: 9699 225

Licensed

Open: Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm | Sat and Sun 7.30 am – 4pm

Website here, read the About section, it’s really interesting.

Facebook page here.

Café bookings advisable; courtyard come as you are.

Nearby: This cafe is close by to the excellent Sydney Park with it’s amazing playground and huge learner cycleway.
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The Grounds


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 Thanks you so much, Maxabella! 

Reading this review and seeing these scrumptious photos makes me feel like casting my cares to the wind and leaping straight into the car.

Have you visited The Grounds?

When do you think it’s least busy?

Shall we meet up there for a coffee with the kids soon?

 Happy travelling

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Posted on: February 28, 2014

16 Comments

  • Reply February 28, 2014

    Robyn

    Now that looks like a fab Ssturday out! Can’t believe I haven’t heard of it before!! I’ll be heading there soon for sure – if only this rain would go away!! X

    • Reply February 28, 2014

      Maxabella

      Go Robyn, go! There is loads of undercover areas and the rain just might keep the crowds away for you… x

  • Reply February 28, 2014

    jess

    The trick is to park in Sydney Park and walk down. Your kids could even have a bit of a run around in the park before you head down for lunch.

  • Reply February 28, 2014

    Gourmet Getaways

    Such an interesting place! I was so surprised to see it was in Alexandria… It looks like it is in the middle of the country! Love all the pics, I will have to visit!

    • Reply February 28, 2014

      Seana Smith

      Love Bron’s shots. I’ve been there once for a PR event and didn’t take my camera (or kids) and didn’t really explore properly and have been kicking myself ever since. Delighted to have it up on the blog.

  • Reply March 1, 2014

    Mairi Stones

    Hi Seana, I’m missing those cafes, sad lack of funkyness here, well not HERE but in this local.
    X

  • Reply March 1, 2014

    Hotly Spiced

    I often have to visit a PR company next door to The Grounds. I can vouch for the fact that the parking is your worst nightmare. I’ve looked into the cafe from a distance and due to the crowds (hate the Easter Show kind of experience), I haven’t put a foot inside the picket fence. I guess I need to ‘man up’ and give it a go if it’s as good as Euro Disney. Great review from Bron xx

  • Reply March 4, 2014

    Johanna

    This looks like a fab place to take kids, and I love your idea that it’s more of a community than a cafe. There should be more places like that – places that provide an all round experience and other diversions apart from food and drink. Oh that the parking is bad – that’s a bummer. We live in a crowded world (ahem, except over here in Western Australia 😉

  • Reply March 5, 2014

    Josette LeBlond

    Hello.
    Thank you for sharing this interesting and great article.
    Thanks for information.

    • Reply March 5, 2014

      Seana Smith

      No problem! I’ve just read that they are now offering valet parking… amazing for a cafe to do that here in Oz, but sounds a great plan for this cafe.

  • Reply March 5, 2014

    Desire Empire

    Wow it sounds so lovely. Shame about the parking. Coming from a distance, that is an issue or me.
    Carolyn

  • […] We are! One accounting session and I had to go eat a big, fat burger at The Grounds to recover (you can check out the review I wrote for families over at Seana’s site). […]

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  • Reply July 28, 2015

    Iris Loudon

    My adult son uses a wheelchair. Is there somewhere I can park to go to The Grounds?

    • Reply July 29, 2015

      Seana Smith

      Hello Iris, I’m not at all sure. Probably best to give them a ring. Their valet parking might be helpful. Or hopefully theu will have a space for you close by.

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