The Grounds of the City: CBD, Sydney


One of Sydney’s most popular cafes has made its way into the city, so now you can enjoy your deconstructed hot chocolates and their delicious cakes during your work week. I was so excited about a branch opening right near my office that I told SH we absolutely had to visit this place before she flew off to New York.

The Galeries Victoria has had a huge revamp of its dining offers  over the last few years, including the previously mentioned renovation of Jimmy’s Recipe, and the Grounds is the latest place to hit the centre. Their 1920s themed venue feels like something right out of Sherlock Holmes, right down to the windows that actually hide how the interior looks. It’s every bit a mystery how the place is decorated inside until you walk in.

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The cafe is actually MUCH bigger on the inside than it seems, and when you take into account that this place – much like the Alexandria branch – is extremely busy you realise just how much patronage it gets when you consider there are lines at lunch and dinner. The first time SH and I tried to go here for dinner it was an hour and a half wait for the next table!

Inside this licensed premises is a classy bar with plush bar stools and tables alongside walls of books and silverware, and all in all a very intimate setting (if not a bit dim with the choice of lighting).


There is one thing I’m no fan of here, and it’s the cold brew. I’ve become a fan of cold brew of late, no matter the weather, but I found this one really sour. The giant ice ball also meant it took longer to melt when there were times that I needed the water to weaken the taste a little. SH’s Berry smoothie looked far more appetising after a while.

Berry smoothie

The dinner options are decent portions without being too filling, which is a nice change from the huge dinner plates you can get, at restaurants. SH opted for the beef ragu special, whilst I opted for the pea and parmesan strozzapreti.

The pasta is really hot! I often forget that melted cheese can scald your mouth if you’re not careful. Doh. But that combination of melted cheese, pasta and mushrooms is one of my favourite, and short pasta is always good for allowing  you to eat and chat at the same time.

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It was about this time we discovered that there is a cake trolley. Yes, that’s right folks, if the 1920s decor and dress, there is a cake trolley, pushing around the delicacies you have saved room in your stomach for. No, I am not of the opinion there is a second stomach for dessert.

The top of the trolleyhas your larger cakes, ready for cutting the appropriate portions, and the lower levels containing smaller tea cakes for sharing (or for yourself, really).


It is here that the hard choice of the night falls upon us: which cake to have? I opted for a chocolate rasberry mousse cake whilst SH chose the lemon tart.

Unfortunately, SH discovered her choice had almond essence in it, and she wasn’t too fond of the taste. I definitely won with this choice. The cake was tall but light, and those layers cut beautifully.  And during the day, if you want more of them to take back to work, there is a takeaway window at the other end of the venue.

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By the time we left, it was probably close to 8pm, around the time everything would start closing on a Thursday night, but with full stomachs (if not slightly disappointed by the cakes or coffee respectively), and needing a bathroom – which the cafe lacks. Luckily there are bathrooms on the floors above and below in the Galeries.

Given just how busy it is on weekdays, it’s best to make a reservation for dinner. Or be prepared to have a longer lunch break or have your break out of peak times! Currently they are only open late during Thursdays, but that is soon to change. But leave your dog at home (or work, if your office is pet-friendly). Your dog will be more welcomed back in Alexandria!


The Grounds of the City

  • Where: 500 George St, Sydney
  • Ph: (02) 9699 2235
  • Hours: 7am – 6pm Mon – Wed and Fri, 7am – 9pm Thu, 8am – 6pm Sat – Sun
  • Site

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