Sunday served up the first proper summer day we’ve had all year and a righteous hangover. At first I was somewhat reluctant to make the trip out to Alexandria and when I got there I was a little overwhelmed because the line to be seated at ‘The Grounds’ was intimidating. However there’s one worthy assumption to be made from an establishment that is packed, ‘it’s good’. The line shuffled through and we were given a buzzer and told there would be a half hour wait to be seated. Thankfully The Grounds has a gorgeous garden which you can wait in, and only 100m away one of the coolest stores I’ve been in for a long time, Salt Meats Cheese.
Salt Meats Cheese is the lovechild of cousins Stefano de Blasi and Edoardo Perlo who have brought their passion for food all the way from Italy to offer the public a warehouse full of local and imported delights that span almost every cuisine you could imagine. The bulk of the offering has an Italian influence with a fantastic range of rustic pasta, cheese, olives, pizza paraphernalia, cured meats and homemade sauces. It really is a wonderland for foodies, a place where you could easily spend hundreds of dollars picking up interesting things ‘just to try’. The selection of infused salts is amazing and as you sample each you can watch Mirco rolling mozarella balls in the ‘lab’ in front of you. Finally on Sunday they serve free pizza made with imported pizza bases that are phenomenal, so while you wait to be seated over at The Grounds you can snack on pizza and spend all your money on roasted garlic salt, pizza bases, stuffed olives and the biggest jar of anchovies in the world. If you’re keen to do some serious shopping at Salt Meats Cheese, browse before breakfast and head back to purchase after, a lot easier than carting groceries to the cafe.
Once we were seated at The Grounds we had our coffee orders taken quickly and our food shortly after. The coffee was great and the food came quickly, which was an admirable effort in the absolutely packed cafe – nice to be served quickly after a half hour wait to be seated. We ordered the Breakfast Board which came with fresh pesto and Persian fetta and the Croque Monsieur which we shared, both equally as delightful as each other. The cafe is nothing short of stunning inside, designed by Caroline Choker it was shortlisted this year within the hospitality category of the prestigious IDEA awards. After experiencing the venue and the beautiful food, it’s easy to see why The Grounds won Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Cafe of 2012 award. Perhaps The Grounds would be better left to a weekday to avoid the crowd but when paired together, Salt Meats Cheese and The Grounds offer a really great morning out for the discerning food lover and honestly the wait to be seated doesn’t really matter at all.