Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! Before I begin, I hope you’ve been enjoying the recipes produced by my guest bloggers, my one true love, Jialing Mew, and of course my new friend Brendon D’Souza, for the past two weeks. I’ve really enjoyed hanging out with them and cooking with them in the kitchen before I left to come back home to Brunei. Stay tuned for the next two weeks, I’ve got another friend who will be guest blogging, and a special someone whom without her, this blog may not even exist!

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria

So anyway, for those who have been following my blog for a while now, or those who just know me personally, will know that The Ground of Alexandria is a place I keep going back to for the food and just the overall vibe of the place… oh and for the cute waiters at the Potting Shed as well *cheeky grin* If I did not already mention this in my previous review on the Potting Shed, there is another café/restaurant as well as various food stalls in and around the Grounds. I’ve been to and had food at the Garden Bar three times now and the food never fails to impress my tastebuds and fill my tummy up with delight. The first time I was here, I went alone for the Christmas Markets back in 2014, shopping for gifts for my friends, eating food, and meeting Santa Claus! Would you believe that that was the very FIRST time I ever got to meet Santa and sort of sit on his lap? Yeah, what a childhood I’ve had right? Anyway, Santa said to me “it must be my lucky day!” referring to the fact that he’s had a couple of women taking photos with him before me.

The Grounds of Alexandria

The second time I came back to the Ground and had food at the Garden Bar was with my family when they came to visit for a holiday and my graduation ceremony in early May of this year. I decided to take them to the Garden Bar and enjoy the eats of the various food stalls. There were a lot of people, as usual, and it was difficult to snag a seat for four, but luckily we were able to find one under the lovely winter sun within 15 minutes of arriving. My Mom and my sisters fell completely in love with the food, as well as the atmosphere and overall vibe of the place – just like me. The third time I came back and had food from the Garden Bar was during a catch up session with Vidhya – well, I had been stalking the Instagram page of the Grounds and found out they were selling waffles that weekend so I HAD to go (and drag Vidhya along of course since we planned to hang out that day). Vidhya, if you’re reading this, correct me if I am wrong, I think I made you fall in love with the Grounds as well!

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria


Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - THE GARDEN BAR BREKKY: BRUNCH BURGER
THE GARDEN BAR BREKKY: BRUNCH BURGER
with halloumi, caramelised onions, and rocket on a brioche bun ($10.00)
add chorizo (+$3.00)

I ordered this burger before when I went to the Grounds by myself during the Christmas festivities. I ordered it with the chorizo, but then completely forgot to add on that as an extra when I ordered it for the family to share. So instead it was a vegetarian burger with extra garlic sauce; nonetheless, it tasted great without, but still would’ve been even better with the chorizo! I think I’ve mentioned this before in many blog posts, and many of my friends know this – I’m not a huge fan of burgers, and even though this tasted pretty good, I am still not a fan of them.

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: JUMBO SALT & PEPPER PRAWNS
THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: JUMBO SALT & PEPPER PRAWNS
crumbed and dressed with garlic, lime, coriander or chilli ($15.00)

THIS. That’s all I pretty much need to say about these prawns really; cooked, crumbed, and seasoned perfectly. The prawns melted in your mouth at every bite and tasted so well with the extra chimichurri sauce I drizzled on top! The prawns were by far my favourite dish from the Garden Bar – was sad to find out that they weren’t on the menu when I returned with Vidhya for round 2! (Side note: extra sauce comes at no price! They’re at the collection counter in massive bottles waiting to be drizzled onto your food!)

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: CHICKEN WINGS (feast for one, 8 wings)
THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: CHICKEN WINGS (feast for one, 8 wings)
crumbed and accompanied with fiery chilli or BBQ basting sauce ($12.00)

Another one of my favourites from the Garden Bar; we ordered the fiery chilli wings and though it wasn’t the fiery that we’re used to, it was still deliciously good, juicy and tender! If you’re tastebuds don’t fancy some spicy wings, I’m sure that the BBQ won’t disappoint. There’s also another option if you want more wings, which is 20 wings for $20.00!

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: BBQ CHICKEN ROLL
THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: BBQ CHICKEN ROLL
spit roasted over ironbark & charcoal, served with salsa and your choice of sauce ($12.00)

This Vidhya had when I took her to the Grounds; you have the choice between chicken, beef, or lamb as your meat, and you can either have it as a roll or a salad. Vidhya of course, only eats chicken, thus the chicken roll. I can’t remember if I had a little taste of the roll or not – I’m guessing I didn’t since I can’t remember, but anyway, I’m sure the roll tasted really good since pretty much everything on their menu had been spot on for me. Vidhya seemed to enjoy it 🙂

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: SMASHED AVOCADO
THE GARDEN BAR LUNCH: SMASHED AVOCADO
with tomato, feta, dried chilli flakes, and fresh mint from the garden ($9.50)

I’m usually not a fan of ordering smashed avocado when it comes to eating out. The reason being is that it’s basically just a piece of toast with smeared with smashed avocado and topped with feta, tomatoes, etc. Something that I can easily whip up myself at home to be honest. But alas, I knew that going out with Vidhya for “brunch” would turn into late lunch – and surprise surprise! We ended up getting to the Ground at 1pm when we decided to meet up at 11:30am. Anyway, yes so my instincts were right to have something to eat before meeting up with Vidhya to eat again 😛 So since I wasn’t overly starving, smashed avocado was the only light thing on the menu besides the roll/salad, or burger. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the smashed avocado – I mean, you can’t really stuff that up I guess.

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - SIDES: SWEET POTATO FRIES
SIDES: SWEET POTATO FRIES ($8.00)

When you see sweet potato fries on the menu, how can you ignore it?! Drizzled with extra garlic aïoli sauce ❤

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - ORGANIC JUICES: TROPICAL FLAIRORGANIC JUICES: TROPICAL FLAIR
watermelon, pineapple, apple, lime ($8.00)

Refreshingly good!

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - GARDEN SMOOTHIES: MANGOGARDEN SMOOTHIES: MANGO
fresh ripe mango, dried mango, and natural low-fat yoghurt with the goodness of chia and flax seeds ($8.50)

Though it wasn’t mango season the time I ordered the drink, it tasted heavenly!

Garden Bar at the Grounds of Alexandria - CHOCOLATE AND RED VELVET WAFFLES
CHOCOLATE AND RED VELVET WAFFLES ($9.00)

THIS IS THE REAL DEAL HERE; basically the main reason why I keep going back to the Grounds. I cannot stress out how many times I’ve been to the Grounds for the waffle stall that left me disappointed on so many occasions. I say disappointed because no matter when, and every time I find myself at the Grounds, the waffle stall was ALWAYS closed. There was one time I even waited around at the Grounds for 2 hours for the stall to open and kept pestering the lady at the dessert stall, asking when the waffle stall would open. I got tired of waiting, and eventually just had food from the Garden Bar and then left. When the Grounds posted a picture of their Chocolate and Red Velvet Waffles on Instagram, I knew I had to make a trip over for them; I was overly happy! Even though I was already so full from all the food I had that day prior to waffle eating, I finished all three waffles (with the help of Vidhya who took one or two small bites because she too was already full). Definitely worth my 9 bucks!

The Grounds of Alexandria

Once again, the Grounds of Alexandria never fail to disappoint me every time I visit. Each time I visit is a different experience; also because I’m with different people whenever I pay a visit to explore the gardens, the markets, indulge in the food. and of course say hi to the various farm animals such as Kevin Bacon the resident pig. The atmosphere and overall vibe of the place is a sure 10 out of 10 for me – it can get very crowded during sunny weekends, but nevertheless, it’s all part of the experience really; I mean, it’s crowded for a reason! Food I’d give a 9 out of 10 (only because I feel I’d be too biased if I gave them a 10 out of 10 for food even though they really deserve the 10). Seating can be a bit of a hassle to find especially when the Grounds is packed with people and kids. Vidhya and I ended up sitting on the ledge of one of the garden beds along with other people, but if you’re okay with that, I see no problem here. The Garden Bar has a good value for money, definitely much cheaper than the Potting Shed for reasons that are apparent anyway in terms of the quality of the food served and the ambience of the Potting Shed in comparison to the gardens. If you haven’t seen my review for the Potting Shed, or want to recap on the dishes from there (the menu might be different from my review and now since seasons have past), click here.

The Grounds of Alexandria

Garden Bar at the Grounds
Building 7A
No. 2 Huntley Street
Alexandria, New South Wales
Australia, 2015

– Ally xx

Ampersand Café & Bookstore

Ampersand Café & Bookstore

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! Ampersand Café & Bookstore is one that I am very fond of mainly because of the memories and conversations shared over food. I have been going to Ampersand on a frequent basis over the past 4 years; it was the go-to brunch/lunch spot before or after classes at the then-COFA (now known as UNSW Art & Design). I remember popping by the café with Bec many times before our 9am classes; I would always get a regular latte, and she would always get a regular flat white. Then there are many times we’d visit for a quick brunch/lunch in between classes. Most recently, it was an after photography class lunch date for Anastasia, Jess, Jialing, and myself. We would sit and talk about the most random things for 2 hours, and even quote from White Chicks all throughout lunch.

Ampersand Café & Bookstore

What I also love about this café is that it is also a bookstore! It has a rustic, or as one would use the term, ‘hipster’ feel to it which makes it even that more inviting for the suburb that it is in. The café and bookstore has three amazing floors of dining areas surrounded with an adjoining library and bookstore with many books to choose from. A great place for those who just want to sit and immerse themselves in a book over a cup of coffee, or with friends over food.

Ampersand Café & Bookstore

Besides all the fond memories I have of this café, and the cozy ambience, the coffee and food are also quite excellent! The menu that you are about to see in this post is some of the dishes that my friends and I have indulged in. I have had many more dishes from this café but I think that during first two years of visiting this café I wasn’t taking any photos or I just can’t seem to find where the photographs are if I did take any. I have indulged in the Ampersandian, the Morning After Breakfast, and their Club Sandwich from their counter items. Nonetheless, I feel like the dishes on this post are quite a good range of the food that Ampersand has to offer. Also, I should make mention that they also have another café known as Ampersand on Crown | Café, Bar & Bookstore. I actually didn’t know that this existed until I went and had brunch with some friends at  Rustic Pearl. Ampersand on Crown was just right next to it! 413 Crown Street, Surry Hills for those who want to know where!

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - HOT DRINKS: CAPPUCCINO
HOT DRINKS: CAPPUCCINO
brewed using Allpress Beans (Regular $3.30, Large $3.80)

Their coffee art amazes me every time. I have yet to come across an ampersand on the drink as I have seen in many Facebook/Instagram posts by others.

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - HOT DRINKS: LULLABY NIGHTCAP
HOT DRINKS: LULLABY NIGHTCAP
Nutmeg, malt, cinnamon, and honey served with hot milk ($4.80)

What really struck me about this drink was that, on their blackboard menu, it said ‘seahorse eggs’. Being naive and gullible at that time, I legitimately thought that the drink actually had seahorse eggs it in. Only then did I come to a realisation that the seahorse eggs referred to the frothy, fizzing bubbles in the drink. I was not disappointed though; the drink was absolutely amazing! However, probably not a great idea to have before a boring lecture (which was what I did at the time). It’s all in the name of the drink!

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - LUNCH BLACKBOARD MENU: RISOTTO
LUNCH BLACKBOARD MENU: RISOTTO
Arborio & barley risotto, confit cherry tomatoes, garlic, halloumi, and pesto ($15.90)

What attracted me to this dish was the fact that it was originally ‘arborio & barley risotto, tiger prawns, lemon butter, and crumbed pancetta’ on their blackboard menu. The combination sounded so great in my head that I had no second thoughts of wanting to order it. However, for a reason that I cannot remember, the lady at the cashier told me that their risotto for that day was confit cherry tomatoes, garlic, halloumi, and pesto. At first I was hesitating whether or not I should have that or order something else off their menu, but at that time there wasn’t anything else that tickled my fancy. So I decided to go for this, and absolutely no regrets. It tasted amazing! But I secretly think that the tiger prawns, lemon butter, and crumbed pancetta would’ve been amazing-er!

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - LUNCH BLACKBOARD MENU: THE HASH
LUNCH BLACKBOARD MENU: THE HASH
Braised beef cheeks (slow-cooked), seasonal veggies, potato rösti, and poached egg ($16.90)

This dish, that Jialing ordered and we shared with Annie, was again to die for! The only criticism I have with this dish that it said ‘poached egg’ and the egg we for that day was what you would get between a soft boiled egg and a hard boiled egg. No runny yolk! Disappointed. Other than that, the beef cheeks where tender and full of flavour; verging on the dry side which is why it was important that we had that runny yolk!

Ampersand Café & Bookstore

I mean, if these empty plates of the first two dishes mentioned above does not convince you of their deliciousness, then you sir are not my friend (the other empty plate is of the stuffed red capsicum which is the very last photograph on this post).

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - LUNCH BLACKBOARD MENU: SWEET POTATO CRISPS
LUNCH BLACKBOARD MENU: SWEET POTATO CRISPS
served with aïoli ($6.00)

This is a winner side dish for me. I never fail to order these babies each time I visit Ampersand. But sadly over the past month in late October, early November last year, I did not get to have any. Why? Because their deep fryer had been broken during those times. But for a month? Pure torture. I have not been back since our last photography class which was in early November. Maybe it’s time I paid another visit – hopefully their deep fryer is fixed by now! I just love the thin crispy sweet potato sliced paired with garlic-y and tangy aïoli.

Besides their blackboard menu, they also have a selection of pre-cooked counter items. Possibly an easier and quick option for those who have their breakfast/lunch/brunch to go, but that never stopped us from trying them ourselves over a two hour lunch session. You can probably tell that we have a thing for their arancini as it appears in almost every counter item on this post, but are paired with a different salad each time. This is because no salad is ever the same whenever we visit the café. One thing that I do love about their salads is that they aren’t your regular Joe that you see in almost every café; they are pretty exotic to your taste buds! Black sticky rice? Miso chic pea? Cracked wheat? I mean, who would’ve thought these combinations would work so well?! Yum! So what you can do is order an arancini, sandwich, wrap, or whatever hot dish they have at the counter, and then add $5.00 on top for a salad on the side.

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - COUNTER ITEMS: ARANCINI & CHIC PEA SALAD
COUNTER ITEMS: ARANCINI & CHIC PEA SALAD
Arancini with tomato & mozzarella ($5.90) & Chic pea salad with miso and red wine dressing, enoki, kale, and raw zucchini (+$5.00)

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - COUNTER ITEMS: ARANCINI & CRACKED WHEAT SALAD
COUNTER ITEMS: ARANCINI & CRACKED WHEAT SALAD
Arancini with tomato & mozzarella ($5.90) & Cracked wheat salad with mixed beans, feta, grilled sweet potato, asparagus, and sweet & sour paprika dressing (+$5.00)

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - COUNTER ITEMS: ARANCINI & ROASTED EGGPLANT AND WHEAT SALAD
COUNTER ITEMS: ARANCINI & ROASTED EGGPLANT AND WHEAT SALAD
Arancini with tomato & mozzarella ($5.90) & Roasted eggplant and cracked wheat salad with green peas, red pepper, and balsamic reduction (+$5.00)

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - COUNTER ITEMS: BREAKFAST WRAP & BLACK STICKY RICE SALAD
COUNTER ITEMS: BREAKFAST WRAP & BLACK STICKY RICE SALAD
Poached egg, crispy bacon, spinach, tomato, cheese, and hollandaise ($9.50) & Black sticky rice salad with cherry tomatoes, bocconcini, rocket, and balsamic reduction (+$5.00)

Ampersand Café & Bookstore - COUNTER ITEMS: STUFFED RED CAPSICUM
COUNTER ITEMS: STUFFED RED CAPSICUM
with pearl barley, pumpkin, feta, and spinach purée ($5.90)

Ampersand Café & Bookstore
78 Oxford Street
Paddington, New South Wales
Australia, 2021

– Ally xx