Monday, September 17, 2012

The Grounds of Alexandria

David Chang knows the importance music plays in his Momofuku restaurant empire. So does The Grounds of Alexandria.

All you can hear inside the cafe is the loud clamour of cutlery against plates, the consistent reverberation of the patrons' conversation and the shuffling of the floor staff's hurried feet as they elegantly and flawlessly meander their way around the clusters of tables. If you're hanging around the register you'll also catch random people's names as the barista calls them once their take away coffee is ready. If you're ordering, feel free to use your alter ego's name, no one will ever know. Grab yourself a cup of orange or lemon infused water while you're at it.

Outside in the courtyard it's a different story.

In my opinion you don't come to The Grounds to put your name on the ridiculously long waiting list so you can snag a seat inside.

Instead you come here to lounge around on a communal table outdoors, next to some people you've never met before. You might even make some new friends. You come here to expose your pasty white face to the sunshine.

Look up, you're bound to catch a corner of the endless Australian blue sky or the dark looming heritage brick chimney of Alexandria Creative Park.

What I enjoy about being outside is the fact that I'm not cooped up in our one bedroom apartment staring at four walls. In this highly urbanised area in Sydney, I finally get to see some greenery and chickens. Especially since I've killed most of the plants on our balcony. Inner city Sydney dwellers take what nature they can get. 

The courtyard has strategically placed speakers throughout. Whatever corner you're sitting at the music hits your ears and when you're talking with your friends, it falls away to the background. A sometimes mellow and often funky soundtrack to your dining and social experience. The music varies, I've heard Damien Marley, Angus & Julia Stone, house music, chill out, hip hop, soft rock, alternative and even some golden oldies (the cool retro tracks).

On my own, the music pulls me in and takes my focus away from whatever I'm doing, be it texting, reading a book or surfing my iPad. Instead  I stare aimlessly at people, observing what they're doing and if they are within hearing distance, what they're talking about.

One of the conversations I overheard recently was an American chick telling her friends how much she loves Sydney. The sunshine, the great weather (I wonder, was she here last monsoonal summer?), friendly people and most importantly the great quality and variety of food. She said only when she travels is she able to relax and reflect on how good she has it here in Sydney. 

Hear hear! I raise my cup of freshly ground fragrant coffee and salute her. Here's to a fabulous spring and summer. Enjoy every moment of it.

The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon

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