Food travel

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Walk­ing into The Grounds of the City feels like a throw­back to the hey­day of cafe so­ci­ety in a beau­ti­ful mash-up of art deco and art nou­veau in­flu­ences. The­atri­cal yet re­laxed, glam­orous yet hum­ble, the space em­bod­ies time­less de­sign and yes­ter­year charm.

The project, which was a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween cre­ative head Ramzey Choker, stylist Therese Moussa and Acme & Co own­ers Caro­line Choker and Vince Alafaci, is a di­ver­sion from the typ­i­cal client/de­signer re­la­tion­ship and has played a cru­cial role in the suc­cess of The Grounds. “There is to­tal trans­parency be­tween us and ev­ery­one un­der­stands the ob­jec­tive,” ex­plains Ramzey. “Caro­line is my sis­ter, Vince is her hus­band and Therese used to work with Caro­line.”

Act­ing as a grown-up ver­sion of its part­ner res­tau­rant in Alexan­dria, the aptly named city space caters to the cor­po­rate com­mu­nity. While it is visu­ally dif­fer­ent from the more rus­tic Alexan­dria site it still pro­vides the same sen­sory el­e­ments: beauty, am­bi­ence and a place for so­cial in­ter­ac­tion. The team’s lat­est ven­ture finds a home in The Ga­leries build­ing, for­merly a depart­ment store first called Mur­dochs and later known as Wal­tons, with the in­te­rior de­sign pay­ing homage to the site’s 1920s legacy.

“When we were de­vel­op­ing the con­cept for the space we went back to the Wal­tons build­ing in terms of what was here pre­vi­ously to try to tap into the his­tory of the era.” Stay­ing true to this theme with a fo­cus on fine de­tail was the driv­ing force be­hind the de­sign. “Nowa­days ev­ery­thing is so pol­ished and min­i­mal, ev­ery­one uses sharp edges,” says Ramzey, who be­lieves that fine de­tail is lack­ing in mod­ern day cafes.

Ev­ery­thing in the space is be­spoke – the cof­fee equip­ment was cus­tom built overseas, the fridge doors were de­signed in a man­ner that repli­cates art deco style, an­nées folles apothe­cary bot­tles line the back wall filled with cof­fee beans sourced from var­i­ous farms around the world, and cus­tomised plate­ware has been de­signed specif­i­cally for se­lected menu of­fer­ings.

Ac­claimed Syd­ney venue The Grounds has new digs in the CBD where it ped­dles its the­atri­cal style to a cor­po­rate crowd. For more see Break­ing Ground, p200.

These pages, clock­wise from top left Cof­fee beans from around the world. The Grounds of the City founders Therese Moussa, Ramzey Choker, Vince Alafaci and Caro­line Choker. The kitchen. Op­po­site page The in­te­ri­ors are a blend of art deco and art nou­veau in

This page, clock­wise from top Roasted John Dory with sauce vierge. Af­fogato made with ti­ramisu ice-cream. Old­school am­bi­ence. Op­po­site page, from top Ban­quettes redo­lent of the past of­fer a cosy at­mos­phere. Her­itage beet­root and buf­falo feta salad with wi

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