The Grounds of Alexandria has a new neighbour, as of less than one month ago - as at the time of writing this. The two work very well together indeed. Thatís to be expected though, given they have the same owner. The Potting Shed is sweet and sophisticated, rustic, charming and unique; but highly complementary to The Grounds.
The flowerpots are real, and they smell divine - splashing colour all around the entrance way and the back section where you can buy them. But the action all happens in the courtyard with its planter boxes, large spacious areas and stage spaces for live music performances. You will feel like youíre in a shed; but a chic, stylish and delicious one (the fit out was rumoured to have cost around $2 million). If youíve even seen pictures of The Grounds or visited, youíll know that they know what theyíre doing. The owners know how to make a picture perfect venue.
Onto the food then. The menu is more designed for taster plates and sharing than The Grounds, and there really is something for everyone - from large, fresh beetroot salads to hearty mini hot dogs; salt and chilli squid, and the most delightfully crunchy fries youíll find in this part of Sydney (served with a home made aioli and tomato relish). The burgers were flying out of the kitchen while we were there, but vegetarians should rejoice because the pansotti pasta with a burnt butter sauce was far more delicious (even the meat eaters with me agreed). Highly recommended is the pumpkin fatteh with zataar and flatbread if youíre after something different for a starter. Thereís also a version of bruschetta called pane con tomato that is to die for.
The second time I visited the Potting Shed it was early on a Saturday night, but the place was buzzing already, and people were crowding around the bar, getting friendly with the staff and sampling the ultra modern and fresh cocktail menu. There was a lot of love, time and effort put into this pickled cocktail menu, and it doesn't seem to be disappointing anyone I've spoken to. Think chilli, wasabi, cucumber, coriander and mustard with pineapple just as one example. Being a non-drinker unless itís a super special occasion, I tried the lemon lime and bitters, and it was home made - not overly sweetened and totally satisfying. Whether you indulge or not the drinks are good, but I plan to test the cocktail menu out eventually!
The details are what make this place so special - the tiny shovel clips on top of the menus, and the generous deep plates that stop your sauce from dripping over the sides, as well as the friendly waitstaff who look happy to be working there. There are some cute and clever house rules that youíll have to go there to read too; but itís simple and common sense type stuff, such as he who has the most drinks in his hand gets right of way, and be nice to the staff and everything will be sweet.
If you take a walk up the side to the back entrance, youíll see the garnish herbs growing fresh ready to be picked too. Thatís where so much of the flavour comes from - the great produce thatís grown and sourced with love and care, and thatís what will keep me coming back for more.
Where: Same warehouse/industrial complex as The Grounds. 2 Huntley Street, or enter the carpark off Bourke Rd Alexandria NSW.
Why: If you're looking for something special and different, or just amazing flavour. Just be warned - tea and coffee aren't served here as of yet (that will probably change though).
Cost: $20-$50 per person
When: 11:30am till late 7 days per week
Good for kids: Day time yes, probably not in the evening unless you do an early dinner (it is a bar/restaurant so there are adults, and alcohol, and it's outside).
Take away: N/A