The Grounds Roasters coffee. Shop 7A, 2 Huntley Street Alexandria. A lot of buzz about this place, not lest winning the best new cafe in the 2012 Sydney Cafe Guide, this place has been on my to-visit list for a long while. It must be the largest cafe of its kind - 1800 square metres, and mostly outdoor seating. This is no Bunnings, though: each piece has been carefully chosen to work together: there's also a vegetable garden, herbs growing, a small playground, and a fountain.
Knowing how crowded this place was likely to be, we call in at 2pm on a weekday for a visit - it's only a few moments at the "please wait to be seated" sign, and parking is slightly easier to find. This is certainly a place for the well-to-do crowd, or the inner city hipsters. Contrast this news interactive article with the review from the Sydney Morning Herald to get a sense of which crowd finds more of an appeal (hint: it's the latter).
Food is really well put together, though on the expensive side. Here's the za'atar with heirloom tomatoes, avocado, feta on toast: $14.
It's the little touches, though, that make you feel better about being separated from your money in this way: this line of light globes is beautiful and functional.
The playground has a certain amount of character: here's the balance-beam lizard.
Stay long enough and you'll be able to see it this empty - you could get a seat straight away at, say, 3pm on a weekday, but they're definitely winding down by then.
Coffee is taken really seriously: sit in the right part of the cafe and you can watch co-owner Jack Hanna roasting the coffee. The decaf reminds me of the first time I had his "Jack and the Bean" coffee in Home Espresso in North Sydney. I enjoyed the decaf more than its caffeinated counterpart, but it's possible my palette was overwhelmed by the food (the lamb salad was fantastic).