We all know The Grounds can do no wrong. Whether it’s cold drip coffee, cauldrons of mulled wine, resident pigs, chickens, literally even giant gold Easter eggs; everything they touch seems to turn to gold. They aren’t afraid to do anything, and when they do it, they do it right. So it’s no surprise The Grounds of the City is already pumping.
The long awaited CBD venue is as carefully planned and put together as the original Alexandria outpost but there’s not a hay bale or pot plant in sight. Instead, step inside and step back in time, to the bygone era of old world working class life. There’s a shoe shining station, a tea lady, bespoke booths, parquetry floors, stained glass windows and domed chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. One expects to hear the distant choo choo of a stream train, or the click clack of typewriters.
The Grounds of the City has brought back the energy and the excitement of the 1920s – and in classic Grounds style, no detail has been spared. Copper bar equipment, cast-enamel doors, custom made fridges, even the staff uniforms, this is Art Deco artifice at its best.
But the Grounds isn’t all about the décor. Yes, it’s a huge part of the experience, but the lifeblood of the entire operation is the generously proportioned open kitchen. In fact, compared to the sprawling complex of dining rooms, market stalls, gardens and patios that make up the Alexandria venue, the dining room is relatively small, with a row of raised booths, banquette seating along the walls and a beautiful long bar with high stools. Almost as much space has been given over to executive chef Paul McGrath’s domain. From 7am onwards, the kitchen buzzes with a team that isn’t resting on its laurels. Breakfast dishes range from house-made crumpets and chia porridge to a hearty seared grain fed fillet steak and eggs dish that’s the stuff of power breakfasts. There wasn’t a lunch dish we saw that wasn’t generously portioned – epic steak sandwiches and beef burgers are popular choices, but there’s also a generous seafood menu including grilled ½ Maine lobster, seafood platters and Jumbo Yamba prawns. The kitchen’s commitment to ethical, sustainably caught seafood, and local produce is even better.
When it comes to dessert, catch the eye of the Tea Lady, whose custom made cart laden high with towering sponge cakes and delicate fruit tarts reminds us a little of being on the Hogwarts Express. It’s a treasure trove of sweet treats – we challenge you to pick just one.
Now, it wouldn’t be The Grounds if there wasn’t a line out the door already, but just like over in Alexandria, there’s plenty of take away food options for breakfast and lunch so no one misses out.
The Grounds of the City
The Galeries, 500 George Street Sydney
Mon – Weds, Fri – Sat: 7am-6pm