The Grounds of Alexandria saw a big, gaping hole in the market and filled it. The Sculptures by the Sea exhibition attracts huge crowds every year, and aside from hitting the streets of Bondi, what food options have the hordes previously had? Usually a simple bbq. Enter Grounds of Alexandria, ready to supply the art spectators with gourmet juices, signature coffees, breakfast, lunch and dinner at their pop up Grounds by the Sea, sitting pretty amongst the sculptures in Marks Park.
The pop up takes that family-beach-shack type feel, and adds a bit of a cottage garden touch to create a relaxed atmosphere, despite the long queues. There’s quite a contrast in the prices of food and drink- whilst both are creative and high quality offerings, the food is quite reasonable, however the juices will set you back a pretty penny.
A decent sized bowl of Bircher with yoghurt, quinoa, poached peaches, pomegranate seeds and berries will only set you back $10 and a brekkie brioche burger with bacon, avo, cheese and egg, only $12. But a freshly squeezed juice (albeit topped with a nice chunk of watermelon) is $8, add another $3 if you want a smoothie. And the biggest travesty? Market favourite, fresh sugar cane juice is also $8 (my expectations were $5 maximum). Of course you can always opt for the famous Ground’s coffee which holds it standard price.
I went for breakfast, but there are separate menus for lunch and all day and the food, as expected, is pretty damn good. The lines are long though, even at 8:30am the wait for food pick up (including coffee) was 15 minutes. If you don’t want to be trapped in the hot sun for that long, then maybe this isn’t worth it.
Bircher Muesli $10
Marks Park, Bondi Beach
Until November 9th
Kakawa chocolates opened up their small boutique store in the Gaffa centre several years ago now, and the new central location has been a welcome addition to the original Darlinghurst outpost. Not as well known as most of Sydney’s artisan chocolatiers, Kakawa is a fairly well kept secret in the chocolate world, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not deserved of attention.
The name Kakawa is taken from the first civilisation to cultivate cocoa beans; the Olmecs of Mexico. All Kakawa’s chocolates are hand made with natural ingredients and void of artificial flavouring and preservatives and gluten free for our intolerant friends.
Kakawa do lots of seasonal chocolates, like hot cross buns for Easter and gingerbread men for Christmas, but some noticeable choices in their regular collection include caramelised banana (like bananofee tart in a chocolate), strawberry and balsamic vinegar, caramelised olive (intrigued? tastes amazing), smokey truffle, sea salt caramel (one of their specialities) and lychee. At $2 each, they’re quite reasonably priced, and all that I’ve tasted have been great.
Aside from the collection of fine chocolates and truffles, Kakawa have a few other unique draw cards. There’s the range of chocolate “CDs”; flat discs of chocolate with different flavourings and toppings, and their chocolate bars- the most notable of which is the dark chocolate bar with liquid sea salt caramel inside! They also do ice cream sandwiches which I’ve been tempted by but have never tasted. Flavours like caramelised black sesame with white chocolate and praline with milk chocolate make me wonder why I haven’t though.
Perhaps my favourite unique Kakawa offering though, are the handmade soft caramels. They’re wrapped up delicately in blank brown paper, all freshly made and soft and gooey. At 80c each, they come in butterscotch, peanut butter (if you like something a little more on the savoury side), apple pie (which seriously tastes like apple pie in caramel form), chocolate and raspberry (very tangy). All are really good and very moorish.
Overall, Gaffa ranks as high on my list of chocolate stores in Sydney, for their quality, value and natural ingredients.
Fine chocolate/truffle $2 each
Chocolate bar $5.80
Caramel 80c each
Ice cream sandwich $5
Chocolate CD $8.50
Gaffa Gallery, 281 Clarence Street, Sydney
This charming bakery/cafe lies within close proximity of the city but channels the relaxed energy of the suburbs. It sits a few minutes walk from the Central Park shopping centre on Cleveland street.
Depending on which side you approach from, you may see the shop front and seating area first- which had that rustic-cool feel typical of the inner west- or you may see the big open kitchen which allows to view the bakers at work.
There are some light meals that can be ordered here, but the baked goods seems to be the main draw card. Aside from their well-known sourdough loaves, Brickfields also do a small range of treats like croissants, brownies, tarts and quiches.
The croissants have a perfectly crisp and flakey shell with delicious layers of buttery goodness; but to my disappointment, there were no almond croissants. I also tried the custard tart which had a nice flakey case and a delicious blend of spices to accompany the egg custard- great for those who want something sweet, but not sickly sweet.
Brickfields also roast their own coffee, which ends up being very smooth and creamy. There are bags of beans for sale, which I was tempted by, but left without.
Brickfields does miss one key factor though. Yes, it’s a nice place to catch up with friends and relax. Yes, the food is good and and tasty. Yes, the prices are okay. But they have no real draw cards which would get me to go too much out of my way to get back there. The range is fairly standard and the quality is good but on par with many other similar places scattered around the city. I’d say it’s great if you’re in the area but not worth travelling too far for.
Regular coffee: $3.50
Sourdough Loaves: $6-6.50
206 Cleveland Street, Chippendale
Some images from Brickfield’s Facebook