The Grounds Of Alexandria can be summed up in one word: blissful. By far the most innovative space I’ve discovered as of yet- the Grounds are located on a former industrial precinct dating back to the 1920’s. At one point it was even a pie factory! They opened in 2012 with an ever evolving vision- to create unforgettable experiences for surrounding communities and to help them thrive through this. The Grounds of Alexandria is a landmark cafe, restaurant and bar, garden, bakery and patisserie, coffee roastery, animal farm, florist, marketplace and more. Entrepreneurial duo Ramsey Choker and Jack Hanna were the brilliant minds behind the thriving space, bringing to life the then industrial car park by transforming it into an urban sanctuary absolutely bursting with life. The Grounds became a welcoming space to bring people together for one sole purpose- to share in the enjoyment of a place that is fresh, fun, ever changing and constantly in bloom.
I’d originally heard about The Grounds Of Alexandria through a handful of content creators I follow on Instagram. Seeing their gorgeous photos and stellar reviews of the place had me very convinced that it was a must visit these holidays. This Tuesday I spent a few happy hours roaming the area and exploring all it had to offer. We had booked a table for two at the Potting Shed the previous evening so were good to go the next morning. Even finding the grounds turned out to be an experience- while maps on my phone had located The Grounds as being a mere half hour away, the drive there took an hour plus. It was interesting following the maze of industrial buildings in search of this one hidden gem. Looking at it from the outside, you’d never have guessed how special it was. If you ever happen to be in the heart of Sydney City, make your way here!
All I knew was that my heart and soul felt so at peace in a place as beautiful as this. We followed winding paths of flowers and greenery as we made our way to the cafe. Cute little retro signs dotted the place here and there, providing much needed instruction. It was somewhat of a surreal experience, honestly. I couldn’t believe I was in the midst of something so spectacular. It brought together simultaneously all the elements of a secret garden, a jungle, a carnival and a lolly shop. It was magical in that everyone’s inner child was brought out to play. In a world that has become so bland and serious, the joy this wonderful space brought me was indescribable. I well and truly could have cried happy tears, had I not been so overwhelmed by excitement!
The Potting Shed was a cafe that did a wonderful job of bringing the outside in. While you were protected from the elements of heat, rain and wind, you didn’t feel trapped or as if you were indoors as such. It was almost like a greenhouse and eatery combined. The floor space was taken up by the bar area, the stools there, the kitchen area and the many mismatched chairs and tables. The walls were bricked up in some areas while others had see through glass. The rooftop was made up of slanted wood panels, bringing in sufficient natural light to keep the abundance of hanging and potted flora flourishing. Plants and flowers of every sort continued to creep into corners and overflow the space wherever you looked. A neon sign read “good thymes at the potting shed- no vacancy.”
Everything the eye caught was of interest. It was brimming with vibrancy and old world charm and resembled the garden your grandparents would have if they let it become overgrown. Best of all was Fluffy the Macaw- or perhaps she was a Parrot. I really cannot tell the difference! Just picture walking into this absolute haven and seeing a really groovy bird bopping really energetically to the tunes of 70’s dance music. Truly a sight to see and an experience unparalleled. All the children at nearby tables were absolutely thrilled by this spectacle and just wanted to give Fluffy a pat on the back. Well, feathers anyhow. When I tried though, she wasn’t very keen. By this time the food and drink we’d ordered had just arrived at our table. I ordered the caramelised butternut pumpkin with zatar, maple syrup, cashew hummus, pomegranate and sesame flatbread. My mum ordered the celeriac and goat’s curd arancini with leeks, olive salsa and romesco sauce. We both tried fruity drinks, ordering the lychee juice and watermelon, mint and berry juice. Both were lovely, subtle and refreshing. Not overpowering or too sugary as some can be. Afterwards we got teapots of chai and a deconstructed Banoffee Pie to share. Let me assure you, it is an absolute delicacy. Roast bananas, toffee and macadamia cookies pair perfectly with dulce de leche and creme chantilly.
After an extremely satisfying brunch, we began exploring the rest of the grounds, starting with the animal pen, lattice greenhouse and antique tiled water fountain. It had many ornate carvings of waterbirds. I loved how quirky it was- there were plenty of less obvious spots that made for great photos and I enjoyed the view from the many winding staircases dotted around the garden. This gave you the perfect birds eye view of the entire location and its surrounds. Chandeliers with glowing faux candelabra gave this bustling space a hint of glam. Families of all different sizes and cultures gathered for a meal and to see the attractions. Walking further into the space, you came upon a lemonade stand and donut stall painted in the most darling pastels. Complete with glowing marquee signage and vintage floral backdrops, they were as pretty as they were tasty. The donuts came in cinnamon sugar, nutella and cinnamon and jam and raspberry sugar. Had we not already been full from brunch, we’d have certainly picked up a few of these beauties. During this time I stopped at the Florist also. I can never resist admiring the expansive bouquets of babies breath, cotton tails, sunflowers and more. They just put a big smile on my face!
Last but not least, I picked out a few key photo spots and let my mum snap away! I’m very lucky that she was such a good photographer that day. I got many beautiful shots at the back of the grounds pick up truck, at the money box and kissing booth. Enjoy the photos! This place is too good to settle for living vicariously through me, so plan your trip- I’m looking at you, my aussie guys and gals!