August 11, 2012 by eatfreak
Well the Grounds of Alexandria (‘GoA’) has been the food blog flavour of the month (or six months) so thought it would be a good guinea pig for my initial foray into food blogging…
It’s easy to understand GOA’s popularity. The concept in itself is extremely appealing and it would seem no expense was spared to set up GoA. A large renovated warehouse / bakery, fresh gardens, resident chickens (hens?), plenty of outside space for kids to go wild (although they could supposedly go wild inside too), a Saturday farmer’s market, and an inspiring menu.
We arrived at 9.15 on a Saturday morning thinking we’d get in early. Yet the wait was still 25 minutes! We were attended by a very friendly front of house and went to the takeaway counter for our coffees so that we could wander the Grounds. The cabinet treats were extremely tempting but we managed to bypass them. Saturday holds a farmers market which is quite cutesy and charming, although the astronomical prices ($28 for a kilo of strawberries) means I was unlikely to purchase. $5 bacon and egg butties straight off the BBQ were also hard to ignore but we stayed strong.
When we were eventually seated by a white jacketed hostess, we wasted no time ordering.
Guest 1 ordered the Banana Bread. A thick chunky slice of sweet treat which I was fortunate enough to have the last square of. I’m always a fan of ricotta honey with banana bread so I found the simple jam and ricotta combo a little plain, but still satisfying. It was a substantial slice, so that got my seal of approval.
Guest 2 and 3 ordered the Smoked Cheddar Scrambled Eggs and Mushrooms with a side of bacon for Guest 2 and sausages / tomato for my other Eat Freak (pictured). This was a solid meal but nothing outstanding… we couldn’t really ascertain the taste of smoked cheddar, butter was lacking for the toast, and I think without the sides it would be a rather plain dish.
Guest 4 (me, the main Eat Freak! was quick to order the Rolled Eggs in Quinoa as I’ve been salivating over these for some time as I ‘research’ through the food blogs. The baked quinoa was an interesting crunchy texture. The typically summer season asparagus was warmly welcomed back to my palate in the middle of winter, however the sourdough was really crunchy/tough with pretty blunt knives to slice it with. I did enjoy the dish, as it was an interesting take on eggs for breakfast, but possibly I needed something a bit more salty in there – prosciutto? Bacon perhaps?
Drinks… the takeaway coffees were served within about 5-10minutes (not bad at all considering the queues) and provided a well-rounded cup, smooth with reasonable body. Oh and they have their own coffee roasted on site too! Fresh juices looked really appealing in the glass jars and tasted good too (which they should do for a $7 price tag). And they’d be doing something very badly if they got a pot of earl grey tea wrong.
I really liked the small touches about the place – the small milk bottles served with the tea (although the Asian relic tea pot seemed somewhat out of place with the renovated factory type setting), the juice jars, the glass counter cabinet, and the general décor of the place including the glassed in kitchen.
What I didn’t like… the takeaway cups for water (the café seems to market an organic concept so what’s with the paper cups?) and the butter served in plastic sachets. Yes only small things, but this is a place that has the hype of being great (and which it has potential to be), so these small things still count.
All in all, the GoA has huge potential (I also caught sight of a wood oven in the garden, which I can only assume is for wood-fired pizzas!) but I did find the food and beverage secondary to the backdrop. I enjoyed the experience and the feel-good factor, plus there was a real buzz emanating from the organised chaos of the café – even though it was hectic, service was still friendly and efficient. I’m confident there will be more cafes to come who will use the wholesome organic GoA blueprint in the future.
And the return factor? Yes, I’d definitely go back. Although I’ll wait for the hype to die down so the wait list will shorten (I could be waiting for a long time?) and will be sure to hit the lunch menu instead.