This slow-cooked Wagyu beef rib is succulent and yielding.
But the notoriously long wait might quash your appetite before you even get to it.
“There are food stalls, fresh fruit and veges and you can even check out Kevin Bacon the pig in the petting zoo” Mysaucepan says enthusiastically.
“So?” I say nonchalantly. “How in the name of Lucifer would a kiddies’ zoo work up my appetite for lunch?”
“It’s been a while since you were there” she says.
“But it’s a Sunday and that friggin’ place will be chockers with plebs who care less about what they stuff in their mouths” I add.
I remind her that we waited an hour during our last visit to The Grounds of Alexandria almost three years ago. The food was average but certainly not worth the wait.
Since then, this coffee roaster, patisserie, bakery and kitchen garden has opened another space within its grounds, serving rustic, country-style food a la Jamie Oliver.
The Grounds of Alexandria
Set in a former industrial precinct from the 1920s, the grounds is known for its fresh produce that find its way into the menu of their eateries.
Sunday lunch time might well be the busiest time for The Grounds.
Families and young city folks are seeking out breakfast, brunch or just loitering to get a good coffee this place is famous for.
The queue to get into The Grounds and its new spin-off The Potting Shed is notoriously long.
These two eateries within the grounds now appear to have a buzzer system and many die-hards would simply queue for coffee and pastries while waiting for a table for lunch.
This image of little kids with the pony is pretty well taken, don’t you think?
That’s because I am holding my breath to take the photo as Kevin Bacon the hairy pig is right under my nose and his body odor is in dire need for a few cans of Rexona to say the least.
Lemonade appears to be one of the more popular drinks on a crisp autumn day.
The Potting Shed, Alexandria
With slogans like “Please wait to be planted”, “Connect to the World Wide Shed” and “Dish out the dirt”, it seems like you’d have to be a sucker for punishment to wait in a queue that seems to last for eternity.
“I’ve taken a buzzer and they say it will be around thirty minutes” Mysaucepan tells me.
“Whatever … I’ve mentally prepared myself for a ninety minute wait so anything under will be a bonus” I reply with a grin.
There is greenery in abundance for gardening enthusiasts and nature lovers. Otherwise free wi-fi might be an option while you embark on the arduous wait.
The bar at The Potting Shed serves a variety of housemade sodas ~ raspberry lemonade, citruz fizz and elderflower & cucumber.
Punch can be ordered by the jug and there are garden-inspired cocktails – Smoking Shovel, The Grape Outdoors, Pina Backyarder and Porch Crawler.
As I expected, The Potting Shed is packed to the rafters today.
After a wait of just over an hour, we take our seats only to be told by our waitress there may be another twenty minute wait even after we have placed our food orders.
“How ridiculous is this?” I thought to myself.
Mysaucepan‘s Watermelon Smash is Tanqueray gin and lime with a thick slice of watermelon wedged into a small glass.
It tastes refreshing on a Sunday but at $17 a pop, I calculated this cocktail to have an awesome gross profit margin of 94.1%. Then again, I’m a chief financial officer while Mysaucepan is the chief fun officer.
My Six String draft is the culmination of two friends’ idea to grow a home brew into a micro brewery in Erina in the North coast.
Slightly cloudy with a dark golden colour, this brew is fragrant with subtle banana aromas and a crisp finish.
Mysaucepan‘s Holmbrae chargrilled chicken is sitting on a heap of quinoa piled with cucumber ribbons, snowpeas, crispy corn kernels and pomegranate for some ruby sparkle.
“How’s the chook?” I ask. “Worth the wait and all the fuss about this place?”
“The breast is quite dry” Mysaucepan replies.
“Lemme be the judge” I say.
I chew on a small piece of breast meat slathered with some sauce, a piece of cucumber and a few crumbly bits of corn.
“This chicken is like a piece of tasteless wood from the Sahara” I tell her. “Add some salt and see if it works.”
She sprinkles some salt, tastes another piece, then shakes her head resigned to the fact it’s not going to help.
“Nope, it’s pretty disappointing” she eventually admits.
“Leave it, it’s not worth the calories” I tell her. “For that price, we’ll get two good roast chooks from Coles on the way home.”
Slow-cooked grain-fed Angus short rib
Presented on wooden serving board, my slow-cooked grain-fed Angus short rib is sliced into chunky bold pieces piled over a slice of spiced eggplant, then garnished with baby coriander and crispy garlic chips.
“This one can only get better than the chook” I thought to myself.
The meat is cooked beautifully and falls apart in succulent strands though it needs a few good pinches of salt to bring out beefy flavours. Garlic chips could be more crisp though semi soggy is still mustering a garlicky bite.
A sweet sour glaze is jarring and I would have preferred a traditional red wine jus or savoury gravy from the slow-braise.
It might be rustic with the wooden board but it’s a pain when meat juices leak off and create a sticky mess on the table.
As I tuck into my short rib, I notice a few anxious faces who are perhaps feeling the effects of the long wait. They seem to be looking around to see when their food would arrive.
A little boy sitting on a high chair seems unusually passive for his age. He quietly stares into thin air, perhaps knocked out by hunger pangs.
“Dish out the dirt” is emblazoned over the window where food comes out from the kitchen.
Well, I’ve got news for the chef because the Holmbrae chicken did taste a bit like dried out dirt.
An old beaten up truck adds to the theatrics of a rustic garden kitchen.
This old beaten up truck might sum up the state of mind for the folks on our next table waiting patiently for their food.
Rustic or otherwise, this second visit confirms my suspicion the food at The Grounds and The Potting Shed is severely over-rated.
It’s also a damn good thing I hate crowded places.
If hundreds of people are willing to wait an hour for this kind of pukka tukka a la Jamie Oliver, then I am more than ecstatic to stay as far away as possible for the same reason.
So dear readers, how long would you be willing to wait for food, assuming it’s good and one of your favourites?
The Potting Shed
2 Huntley street,
Alexandria New South Wales
Tel: +61 2 9699 2225
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 11.30am – 10pm, Friday 11.30am – 11pm, Saturday 11am – 11pm, Sunday 11am – 10pm.
Know what you mean about food such as this being served on rimless boards! Maybe too much thought has gone into catchy garden-themed slogans and not enough into the food;-)
It’s quirky but I need more than that for a meal away from home. If the food isn’t good, no amount of kitsch will make me like the place. The beef does look good but the drip-off would drive me nuts.
Shame about the food. I will admit, I’ve never actually eaten at either the Grounds or The Potting shed. I refuse to queue for anything over 5-10 minutes. But have wandered through the gardens and over to Salt, Meats + Cheese. The short rib looks gorgeous!
WOW those Angus short ribs looks so tender, meaty, juicy. Love that!
Wow, everything looks amazing especially those cocktails.
I love the decor in this place, it is so cool! I would go there for atmosphere alone 😛
Choc Chip Uru
My gosh the decor is fantastic! They have certainly created the feeling of being in a magic garden! I love the vibrant colour of the breakfast juices -Jason agrees with you on the big watermelon wedge!
haven’t been to The Grounds in a while mainly because i’m impatient when it comes to queues. was hoping that The Potting Shed would be slightly less hectic but looks like it isn’t. loved the layout, animals and all the other stuff (lemon and bakery stands) they have at the venue.
Such a shame about the chicken.. But I’m with you, I’ve been to The Grounds twice, and came out feeling that it’s overrated both times.