The Grounds of Alexandria
It was my cousin in Sydney who told me of a place that I would supposedly love, being that I’m from Melbourne and all.
When telling me about it, his exact words were its not far from here but we’ll have to walk for 10 minutes because there won’t be parking. I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant by this – I mean how small was the parking that at 12.30 on a Thursday it would be full.
However, once we arrived it was apparent that it wasn’t so much the size of the car park, but instead the amount of people there – it was packed! A 20 minute wait was our fortunate predicament, as the grounds of Alexandria are a “community” based café, giving literal meaning to the grounds part of the name.
The idea was brilliant; there were gardens, a barbeque area, a take away area, a couple of shops, a bread stall/cart and an actual stable with animals and all. The (slightly) recent debacle involving a stolen pig called Kevin bacon was a pig from this very community.
After about 20 minutes of awe at what they had created, our buzzer started going off, it was time, food.
The menu was good, nothing too similar, all seemingly appetizing. We ordered coffees to stall the waitress so we would have time to make up our minds. Unfortunately the long black I ordered was a mistake, the water wasn’t allowed to sit and it was just too hot and bland.
In the end we ordered the cheeseburger (how could we not) and the chicken schnitzel which screamed order me on the menu. For the last item we tossed a coin to decide between a duck and pear salad, or prawn and heirloom tomatoes with saffron infused pasta. The pasta won.
The food was fast, taking only 10 minutes to come out but I guess turnaround is key in a place like this.
The burger was cooked perfectly and the patty was handmade, it looked fantastic, the cheese was proper American cheddar and all the flavours worked but something was missing, I felt like it was one ingredient shy of a perfect burger.
The schnitzel didn’t look as good as the burger, that’s not saying it didn’t look appealing but it was no oil canvas compared to the burger. One bite in however I was stumped, the chicken cooked and crumbed perfectly, crispy and flavoursome crumbs with a juicy chicken breast inside, the salad/slaw went seamlessly with it, fennel, currants, pecans, cabbage and the dressing working in complete harmony.
After trying it my cousin looked at me and mumbled something along the lines of “I’m trying to fault it, but I just can’t”.
The pasta was probably the letdown of the meal – although it was a simple premise, the execution was less than stellar, some prawns were overcooked and altogether the pasta felt flavourless. The menu description had me expecting something bolder.
While the walk and wait were somewhat long I would do it again for the atmosphere and some of that schnitzel.