A broke girl with a bucket list

An honest review of Grounds of the City

An honest review of Grounds of the City

Opening day at Sydney’s newest Instagram dream

I’m pretty sure I’ve already bored everyone half to death talking about food. I love food. And just like everyone who loves food in Sydney, I have a begrudging respect for the Grounds of Alexandria. Sure, there might be a thirty minute wait, but there are markets and flowers and a huge pig and some goats to look at.

So, like every other foodie in Sydney, when the Grounds announced the opening of their new restaurant, Grounds at the City, I was tagging every possible brunch partner I knew. A new, improved Grounds with the same quality and a 1920s-esque decor? I was hooked.

Skip forward about two weeks and we end up at Grounds of the City on its very first day of trade. Yep, like the good food blogger I am, I actually managed to (accidentally) be in the first group of people being told there was a wait time of at least 25 minutes.

The wait wasn’t so bad, as the rushed hostess at the service desk took our phone number so we could be contacted when a place opened up, leaving us free to wander around the Galeries for half an hour or so instead of waiting in a line.

Once we actually got into the restaurant and got over how well their interior designer should have been getting paid, things went downhill. First, as we were waiting by the door, the hostess looked straight through us and directed the two women behind us to a table. As she completely ignored us, we had to reach out to a (very apologetic) waitress who managed to flag down the hostess for us so we could actually get our table.

Not such a great start.

As we sat squeezed into the row of tables packed like sardines along the back wall, it became apparent that the Grounds were relying on its previous success to fuel the popularity of its new branch. (Lets be honest, it probably will.)

Its kind of like leaving an essay until the night before it’s due – it could be better, but you know this one will work so you’re only going to put in about 60% of your effort.

Anyway, you get the picture.

FOOD TIME

We ordered probably the only two vegetarian options on the menu: a handmade Marrickville burrata with brioche, olive crusts, heirloom tomatoes, basil and fresh mint, and the pumpkin tart, with buffalo curd, roasted onion and thyme. And, of course, because we had waited for 30 minutes and our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, a side of shoestring fries with parmesan and malt vinegar.

I have a lot of feelings about the food.
Please skip if you don’t like listening to me
bang on about tomatoes for far too long.

First of all, thank god for those fries. The burrata, which was the most beautiful explosion of mozzarella and cream, was actually on top of a salad. And by salad I mean literal mountain of tomatoes. Yes, Grounds chefs, tomatoes are still tomatoes if they are a mix of green AND red. Nice try.

The brioche was a bit pitiful as well – a few toasted chunks scattered around the edges of the Tomato Takeover. That being said, if I had to pick a cheese, it would be that cheese. It split open like a poached egg, oozing out in a way that almost made up for the fact that the rest of the dish was tomato wedges we had paid $23 for.

Enough about the tomatoes. Lets talk about the tart. This one was a winner for me. The pastry was beautiful, topped with generous chunks of roasted pumpkin and swirls of the curd. Also it came with the most incredible aioli I’ve had in my life. Dreams are made of that aioli.

The fries were…fries. The parmesan on top made then special, but $8 is a little steep in my opinion, especially when there was literally no trace of the malt vinegar they had promised.

Basically…

The Grounds of the City is a lot like the Grounds of Alexandria: a place to take your friend you’re trying to impress or a wide eyed tourist for brunch to get some killer instagram shots. There’s no denying that the theme has been meticulously thought out. Everything from the light fittings to the music to the silver tea trays they bring your coffees out on fit perfectly with the 1920s theme. It feels like you’re being transported back in time.

However, the letdown from the hype about this place really ruined it for me. The food was pretty good but not incredible, the service rushed (we ended up waiting 15 minutes for someone to take our bill) and at times quite rude, and the actual interior cramped and dim.

Honestly, I think everyone needs to go here once. Admire what an amazing job they’ve done with the interior, have a meal you pay too much for then get out of there with a takeaway cake. And that’s exactly what we did.

My rating: 6/10

Special mention: the decor and the raspberry chocolate mousse cake I ate while I wrote this

Grounds of the City | 500 George St, Sydney
Grounds of Alexandria | 2 Huntley St, Alexandria

All images © Beth Howlett, 2017