Saturday, 30 March 2013

Grounds of Alexandria, 30 March 2013

Today my wife and I decided to wake up early in the morning and make trek out to Alexandria to try one of Sydney’s most popular cafes in Grounds of Alexandria. The Grounds have transformed an industrial warehouse into a large space for people to  experience coffee and food in a relaxing environment. We were already loving this place even before we walked into the café. There is also a coffee school, a fountain and a mini-farm, and a large courtyard.

Big tall chimney
The Grounds
Happy 1st birthday, Grounds of Alexandria, your first of many to come!
Dog parking?
We got to The Grounds just after 7.30 in the morning and it was already starting to fill up. By 7.45am, the whole café was full. So if anyone wants to have breakfast or lunch here, you either need to get here early or be prepared to wait a long time in the queue. The Grounds’ was also celebrating their one year anniversary so I was going to be a long, busy day today! The festivities were only just starting as they were setting up the area for an Easter Egg hunt and the market stalls.

Baristas in action
Funky apparatus in background, cold drip coffee
We both ordered cappuccinos. They roast their own beans. The coffees are great, one of the better ones in Sydney. The cappuccino was smooth and there was a good balance of flavour with no bitter after taste.

House Cured Ocean Trout

I ordered the ocean trout, which I enjoyed very much. The ocean trout was delicious and was house cured. It was a very light and refreshing breakfast with the cucumbers and the wonderful dressing. The eggs were beautifully cooked, with soft white and runny yolk. Perfect with some sourdough bread.

Za'atar Pita

My wife had the za’atar pita. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern mixture of  herbs and spices, such as thyme, sumac and sesame seeds. This was another great breakfast dish. Everything goes so well together. Pita bread was fresh and was soft . The za’atar was amazing. Salty feta cheese. The heirloom tomatoes and of course the soft poached eggs with warm oozing yolk.

After a highly satisfying meal, we walked over to Salt Meats Cheese, which is situated in another warehouse. This is another great place to check out if you’re at the Grounds. They do exactly what the name suggests and they do it well: Salt, Meats, Cheese. We ended up buying some porcini salt (at $120 a kilo, obviously we only bought a little bit). It just smelt amazing. Can’t wait to use it to finish off my pasta and risottos! Here are some photos of the great products at SMC.

Salt Meats Cheese
Multi coloured pasta
Black and whte ribbon pasta
More multi coloured pasta
Selection of weird and wonderful salts
Block of Himalayan pink salt
Selection of tea
Big chunk of cured meat

Highlight: The entire experience really. Love the décor. Love the coffee. Love the buzzing atmosphere. Love the breakfast served here. 
Lowlight: It can get very busy here so be prepared to wait a while.
Overall: People from all walks of life gather here to relax and enjoy great reasonably priced breakfast and lunch. In my opinion, this is one of the best places in Sydney for breakfast. The service is friendly and laid back. Can’t wait to come back here to try other things on the breakfast menu and also the lunch menu. 7.5/10 (Great)            
The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon

Friday, 29 March 2013

Cara and Co - 28 March 2013

Cara and Co has been opened for some time and has caught my attention yet I had not dined there until yesterday. My wife and I bought a voucher for a 3 course meal at the quirky half fashion/half restaurant on Westfield Level 4 so we decided to chill out and have a lovely pre-Easter meal.

Whilst I do not care at all for the bits and pieces in the fashion store, I was very much looking forward to eating at the restaurant. The focus here is Flemish cuisine with the menu designed by Belgian Michelin star chef, Dave de Belder. 

Amuse bouche

Olive cake with capsicum jelly and bonito cream
This was a delicious savoury cake and full of Mediterranean flavours from the capsicum and olive. Great way to start off the meal.  

Bread and butter 

The butter was beautifully creamy and the black salt was no ordinary salt, it was just awesome. And of course the sourdough bread roll was nice and crusty.  


Four Lives of a Chicken - Hazelnut, Sherry, Apple
The four lives on the dish are chicken wing, thigh, oyster and crackling. The presentation is just beautiful, as are all the other courses. Definitely reminds me of what you see at Michelin star restaurants in Europe. There is a lot happening in this course, perhaps a bit busy. There were lots of good flavours and textures. The cracker was nice and crispy. Loved the layer of hazelnut on the morsels of chicken. Loved the drops of foie gras to go with the chicken but would have liked a bit more. My only complaint is that the chicken was a bit dry. 

Ten Peas in Soup - Asparagus, Capers

My wife’s entrée was the pea soup is such a pretty dish. Like a work of art. It was a chilled soup so it was a wonderfully refreshing dish on a hot day. This was a very enjoyable course according to the Mrs. 


Flemish Vitello Tonnato - Veal Fillet, Tuna, Tomato, Asparagus, Capers
This was by far my favourite course of the night. Absolutely wonderful flavours and textures! The veal was beautifully cooked and tender. I loved biting into the bits of quinoa for that crunchy texture. The vegetables (potatoes, asparagus, peas, tomatoes) were also great. What really brought this dish together was the cream sauce, which was infused with tuna flavour. It was so delicious, an explosion of tuna flavour! Who would have thought that tuna would go so well with veal. On the plate it looks like a massive dollop of cream. I actually ran out! I was trying to scrape every last ounce of cream onto each morsel of veal that I ate. The plate was practically clean after I demolished the dish.

No Animals were Harmed - Risotto, Mushrooms, Truffle, Green Herbs
My wife’s main was a mushroom risotto. It was creamy risotto with lots of cheese flavour. My wife’s assessment: a very well cooked risotto. 


Bon Bon Bomb - Macadamia, Lemon, Apple, Chilli

Dessert was so gorgeous to look at. But I can’t say that I am a huge fan of this dessert. I couldn’t see how all the varying flavours come together here. You have macadamia bon bon. Granny smith apples. Raspberry. Lemon. Nuts. Spice…. However, some of the individual elements were good. Like the chilli sorbet which was quite interesting. It was quite chilli indeed!   

Petit Fours 

The petit fours were a satisfying way to end the meal with a cup of coffee. Out of the amuse bouche, the tonka bean madeleines were definitely the most enjoyable: delicious buttery cakes straight from the oven so they were still warm. The passionfruit coated with white chocolate and hazelnut were also very pleasant. The pomegranate marshmallow was very average though. It had a hard chalky texture. Nothing like the marshmallows from Sweetness the Patisserie. 

Highlight: The veal main course with the wonderful tuna cream
Lowlight: The busy dessert
Overall: A bit of Europe in Sydney. Beautiful plates of food that resemble works of art. Lots of wonderful flavours and textures in the courses. Cara and Co is a nice place to have a satisfying meal in a relaxing environment. Would be happy to come back and try the other dishes on the menu (at full price). 7/10

Cara&Co Restaurant on Urbanspoon