The Grounds of the City: Old-school charm in the CBD
Food & Drink: 9/10
500 George Street, Sydney, NSW
Upon entering The Grounds of the City, you would be forgiven for thinking you’ve just stepped onto the set of Titanic, with its red velvet bar seats, copper taps, vintage crockery and all things antique.
Set inside The Galeries in the heart of the Sydney CBD, it’s the sister venue to The Grounds of Alexandria, one of Sydney’s most Insta-famous cafés, with its luscious garden and petting animals like Kevin Bacon and Margoat Robbie.
Due to its popularity, wait times at The Grounds are extensive and can be as long as 45 minutes. Luckily, I score a seat at the bar within minutes. It’s not a bad view; I happily watch the staff craft food and drinks with expert skill, dressed immaculately in their old-school brown vests and rolled up shirts.
There is everything you can want from a café on their menu. The food offerings are glorious and extravagant. Breakfast ranges from buttermilk pancake with lemon ricotta and organic honeycomb ($14), to a Brekkie Bowl with quinoa, 63-degree egg, haloumi and kale pesto ($19), to everyone’s favourite, avocado on sourdough toast ($8). Lunch is an equally mouth-watering array of gourmet grilled meat and seafood dishes, burgers and pasta.
Their drinks menu is just as extensive, with a huge selection of coffees to cater for any coffee connoisseur (aka every second person in Sydney), bottomless teas (yes!), fresh juices and smoothies, house-made sodas, and cocktails, beers and wines from 10am (because why not).
I opt for a latte with their house-made macadamia milk. The serving size is generous, and it’s rich and creamy with a nutty afternote. Even dairy milk coffee drinkers would be hard-pressed to criticise it.
Unfortunately, I miss out on trying their breakfast, which is served until 11:30am, so it’s onwards to the lunch options. I order the pea Strozzapreti with mild mushroom ($23). Strozzapreti is a type of long gnocchi and literally means "that which chokes priests". Italian folklore has it that this unique twisted pasta was given to greedy priests to eat, so that they would choke on it and die. Delightful.
Thankfully, no such misfortune befalls me as I feast on my lunch. I can’t help but close my eyes in bliss as I take my first bite. It’s divine. The pasta is handmade which adds a nice touch of homestyle to the dish. A waiter comes by to ask how everything is going. "Mgmggmhh!" I reply, mouth full, two solid thumbs up.
Sydney foodies can be tough to please, but the good news is that The Grounds of the City will not disappoint. It’s outstanding in every way, and sets the bar high for Sydney cafés.