Sub Station 152 Cafe

As I browsed a friends Rise filtered sandwich lunch from Sub Station 152, I knew I had to make a trip on the weekend. Sub Station 152 Cafe (124 McEvoy St, Alexandria) opened on 3 September 2012 and from the outside appears to be a little nook, however it has transformed from previously being an electric substation into a cute little cafe complete with a narrow outdoor area and an annex featuring a vertical garden.

 
via @annieso
 
via @annieso

The menu here is simple with a range of sandwiches and salads and also the specials. On this occaision they were offering their signature Shakshuka dish, a traditional Israeli dish with 2 free range poached eggs cooked in chunky tomato sauce with grilled vegetables and a touch of chill and fresh herbs served in a shallow pan with a side of bread. Suprisingly this is a dish I'd definitely order however on that day I was after a Poached Chicken sandwiched assembled perfecty with the freshest ingredients while Bill had the simple and homey bacon and egg roll.

Sub-Station
 
 

Poached Chicken

Bacon and Egg roll
 

Everything about Sub Station 152 screams "cute" from the size of the cafe to the wooden spoon table numbers and the highlight would be getting some sunshine in the decked outdoor area. I just loved the atmosphere of having a very relaxed brunch here for a dose of Vitamin D.

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Porco Rosso

Bill having recently had a Studio Ghibli movie marathon, I decided to keep the theme going and take him to try Porco Rosso (33 Allen Street Waterloo) for our date night – doh he had already heard of Porco Rosso as he works in Alexandria. Porco Rosso is one of Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli films about an Italian ex war hero who is transformed into a pig – although we didn’t know whether the restaurant referred to the Ghibli Porco Rosso. The restaurant is hidden under a residential complex and appears to be a favourite for locals who kept popping in for take away pizzas. Reminiscent of an industrial space it is minimally decorated, concrete floors, bags of flour stacked against the glass panelled kitchen and racks of fresh pasta to dry – I especially loved the magnetic specials board with super cute letters of the alphabet.

The menu has hints of Japanese influence (see the tofu salad and edamame) and is divided into Antipasti, Salads, Pizza and Homemade Pasta. The pizzas were named in Italian numerical order and the homemade pastas were named in Japanese numerical order, both lists omitting the number four which is unlucky in Japanese cultures.
We started off with antipasti of caprese with buffalo mozzarella, tomato, basil, extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of black pepper. A simple but beautiful dish, and with tomatoes being the new bananas I savour the chance to have great tomatoes out. We did get food envy when a mountain of parma prosciutto plate with carefully balancing jumbo grissini was ordered by almost all the other tables dining that night and we made a mental note to order that dish next time. Bill chose the Otto (8) pizza, a puffy and chewy crust with tomato sauce topped with fresh mozzarella, wild mushrooms, sausage and bitter radicchio. Naturally I gravitated to the Japanese influenced homemade pasta Go (5) spaghettini with mentaiko which is a chilli marinated cod roe, topped with shredded nori, fresh basil and lemon zest each ingredient present in each forkful. Normally I’d only use mentaiko with soy sauce so I loved how the basil and lemon zest added a freshness and zing to the dish. There’s no separate dessert menu but a cabinet showcasing the desserts of the night which filled as the night progressed. A strawberry custard cake with layers soft sponge cake filled with delicious fresh cream and strawberries caught my eye and a traditional tiramisu layers of coffee and marsala wine soaked chocolate cake and marscapone was the perfect decadent end to our evening.

Porco Rosso



Caprese with buffalo mozzarella, basil, tomato and extra virgin olive oil

Otto (8) tomato sauce topped with fresh mozzarella, wild mushrooms, sausage, radicchio

Go (5) spaghettini with mentaiko, nori, fresh basil and lemon zest

Tiramisu

Strawberry Custard Cake

The restaurant for dinner has a very laid back vibe, perfect for a casual dinner date and I’d love to come back here for lunch as their coffee was great too. Yet another great addition to the ever growing industrial Waterloo/Alexandria area with friendly staff and great Japanese Italian ‘fusion’ food.

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The Grounds of Alexandria

Springs here and there's no better time to make your way to the gardens at the old Four n Twenty pie factory Building 7A, No.2 Huntley St Alexandria, or better known as "The Grounds". Oh boy, this is a long overdue post having visited The Grounds of Alexandria (Building 7A, 2 Huntley St, Alexandria) when it first opened for breakfast and a few lunches after since April 2012.

Arriving what we thought early at 9am for breakfast, we still faced a 20min wait after adding our names to the clipboard. Not to worry, it presented a great opportunity to get a takeaway coffee (their coffee is amazing!) and wander, taking in The Grounds Garden, from the wishing fountain to the herb gardens. The outdoor seating area, available for venue hire made the wait enjoyable, and we could have easily had take away coffee and some sweet delights in the garden.
We were seated outside this time with the heaters to keep us warm and shades to keep the sun out, Bill had the Breakfast Board and I the Rolled eggs which the friendly waitstaff informed was quickly becoming their signature dish. Bill's a very happy chappy when the Breakfast Board arrives with an abundance of foods styled on a wooden board, a mountain of fine double smoked ham, perfectly sliced half avocado, Persian fetta, heirloom tomato salad, two poached eggs and housemade pesto on sourdough toast with the all-important side of bacon served crispy. It's easy to see why the rolled eggs were becoming their signature – a delicious, fresh and healthy dish using seasonal produce. My perfectly cooked rolled eggs oozing yellow, looked impressive balancing atop a tower of asparagus stalks, rocket leaves, watercress and oven roasted roma tomatoes. Though the truffle oil seemed non-existent, I loved the crispy quinoa giving the dish texture and a nuttiness to the dish, easily making this a favourite for me. Just a warning, as they do use seasonal produce their "garden herbs" added in this dish can change from rocket and watercress to coriander…which I learnt the hard way on my subsequent visit – I have issues with coriander so half the dish was inedible for me the next time ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The Grounds of Alexandria
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Breakfast Board  double smoked ham, avocado, Persian fetta, heirloom tomato, two poached eggs and housemade pesto on sourdough toast
With side bacon served crispy ($4)
 
Rolled eggs with crispy quinoa, asparagus, roasted tomatoes, garden herbs w sourdough toast

Best coffee eveeerrrrr

Other notable lunch items we've tried are the Buffalo mozarella, heirloom tomatoes and hand picked basil salad which fresh and wholesome while Bill of course rated The Grounds Burger with a thick dry aged angus beef patty, cheese, tomato, pickles, mustard and a side of chunky chips.

It was during my most recent experience at The Grounds which has left me a little wary of the uber busy establishment. Unfortunately although the floor manager did a great job circulating the gardens and reassuring us that our names were indeed on the list and updating us on waiting times which definitely made us feel better, the service in house left us disappointed. Having waited an hour to be seated, we knew exactly what we were having and immediately ordered, however as many other tables received their food prior to us although they had ordered after us I inquired with the waitress who let us know briskly they were quite busy and there may be a wait for the food to arrive. Eventually 5mins after our food arrived cold leaving us quite sad and disappointed deciding it was definitely not worth the wait.   

Still my favourite place to get a coffee in Alexandria and though I am happy to grab take away, it may be a while again before I return to dine in. The Grounds is no doubt a great warm addition to the industrial Alexandria area, also with the introduction of The Grounds Markets held each last Saturday of the month. I absolutely loved the decor and appreciated the culture and the overall character of The Grounds.

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Bread & Circus

I'm a girl who loves her veges and grew terribly jealous at the sight of my friends posting on instagram, delicious wholesome looking salads, so much so I had to get down to the new "wholefoods canteen" in Alexandria last weekend.
Bread & Circus (21 Fountain Street, Alexandria) is hidden behind Don Campos in the corner nook of a large warehouse, a beautiful and relaxed space and airy, getting plenty of sunshine. The atmosphere here is casual and natural where an assortment of stools and chairs surround communal wooden tables adorned with pieces of fruit as still life, recycled jars, baskets of serving ware and pretty bowls contained unrefined brown sugar. Just as the name suggests, it is quite the quirky canteen and I completely fell in love with the decor from the warm pastel plates, brightly coloured potted plants to the rustic buckets contained serviettes.

Each visit to Bread & Circus is made exciting with the menu changing daily. Bill and I decided to share a regular salad plate where you can choose all or one of the salads on offer. The salad combinations are different to your plain old caesar salads or garden salads and use market fresh produce:
Baked golden maple peaches with champagne puy lentils, blue cheese and chive
Smoky flamed eggplant with a light fragrant sort-of salsa verde
Slow roasted sweet balsamic tomato, torn basil and olive oil farro

(Our salad consisted of the top three)
Olive oil couscous with steamed broccoli and two kinds of beans in orange minted yoghurt
Cinnamon sea salt baked golden sweet potato with garlic olive oil and agave
Caramelised apple-cider fennel and orange in black quinoa coriander and champagne vinegar

The plate is a very generous serving size, each salad packed with flavour exploding in your mouth and absolutely scrumptious. I especially loved the juicy chunks of smoky eggplant and the combination of blue cheese with the peaches and lentils.

Thinking that sharing a regular salad plate wouldn't be enough for the both of us we also ordered a Circus soup served with wedges of sourdough and organic butter. The regular bowl of Super-green soup with creamy smooth broccoli kale & almond which was creamy smooth, hearty and absolutely delicious and great for dunking our wedges of bread into. We also received a complimentary side bowl of Balsamic roasted three tomato & banana chilli with swirl of biodynamic basil yoghurt since they accidentally forgot to bring out the soup we ordered until Bill reminded them. It was spicy and had a good kick to it which was balanced by the sour yoghurt, but we both agreed we the super-green soup had won over our hearts.

Bread & Circus
 
 
Daily Plate Salad
 
Balsamic roasted three tomato & banana chilli with a swirl of biodynamic basil yoghurt
 
Sourdough and organic butter
 
Super-green soup with creamy smooth broccoli kale & almond
  

Though quite busy multitasking (they mentioned they were understaffed that day) the staff were really quite sweet. As we were leaving they apologized again for the mix up of the soup being missed and gave us a complimentary organic orange and bran muffin to take away which we happily accepted and enjoyed with a coffee from Don Campos as we left feeling full, nurtured, super healthy and hearty. We can't wait to revisit and try more salads! And perhaps adding delicious extras such as char grilled haloumi or a boiled biodynamic egg.

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