Madelin Tomelty

With fresh, seasonal plates, a luscious courtyard and a pet pig called Kevin Bacon, The Grounds of Alexandria might just be your next family food stop

Driving down Huntley Street in Sydney’s Alexandria, don’t be surprised if you see a long line of people loitering on the footpath. Chances are you’ve just caught a glimpse of The Grounds of Alexandria, the cafe restaurant that has become something of an institution to Sydney-siders since it first opened its doors in 2012.

With Irish-born Executive Chef Paul McGrath steering the ship of this unwaveringly popular foodie destination, there’s a daily line of people out the door of ‘The Grounds’, as it’s known to locals, waiting to feast on the honest and wholesome, seasonal dishes the establishment is known for. That, and for Kevin Bacon – the cafe’s resident pig – and his farm friends (a sheep, a goat and a brood of roaming chickens) that make up his neighbours in The Garden courtyard. This, along with a beautiful greenery, an enchanting glasshouse, and beds of fresh herbs and bougainvilleas, is enough to entice kids away from their tablets while Mum and Dad enjoy a laidback, delicious meal in an alfresco setting.

The Grounds consists of another five dining areas as well, including the indoor cafe and The Potting Shed, a favourite among The Grounds’ younger, socialising clientele. Then there’s The BBQ, with its aroma of hot coals reminiscent of Aussie summer gatherings, The Soda Barn that serves sodas and cocktails on tap like the milk bars of yesteryear and, lastly, Pizza Silo with its two woodfired ovens and a menu inspired by founder Ramzey Choker’s father’s creations.

The Grounds is a unique place to dine with a palpable, buzzing energy that is nothing if not inviting, and yet it’s a far cry from Chef McGrath’s 20-year career working for some of the best fine dining restaurants of Ireland, the United Kingdom and France. But times are changing, McGrath says. “People are looking for more casual and relaxed environments to enjoy their meals in,” he says, but that’s not to say a meal at The Grounds is without its fair share of flair. In fact, McGrath’s mission is to rival even the upmost fine dining restaurants for quality and consistency, simply enjoyed in a more informal setting.

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