Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pottering about The Potting Shed

The raging success of The Grounds of Alexandria shows little sign of slowing, with their recent opening of The Potting Shed neighbouring the existing café extravaganza.

Taking over the structure and outdoor space that was formerly bistro James Barnes 4143, the new licensed lunch and dinner venue now joins the busy café, gardens, farmyard, weekend markets and outdoor barbeque offerings of The Grounds.

The menu at The Potting Shed, Bourke Road, Alexandria
The Potting Shed's outdoor space and bar are kitted out in true The Grounds style; that is, on-theme, rustic garden chic for the inner city types that don't have a garden let alone a potting shed.

Gardening tools make for cute props and accents throughout the venue: from the mini trowel holding the clipboard menu, to those on the beer taps, and repurposed mini hoes as table numbers.

The fitout provides the same sense of wonder that the kids get out of The Grounds, just with a liquor license and fewer munchkins and animals running about.

Outdoor garden seating
The food menu comprises share plates and meaty mains of a casual bistro style fitting to the area and crowd, while at the bar there's plenty of beer on tap, available in growlers even, wine, cocktails and a back bar full of spirits and fresh juice on request.

(Large) Steamed black mussels with tomato sofrito and chorizo, roast garlic bread
We started with the mussels from the share menu, available in a small or large size, with garlic bread. The mussels were cooked well in a tomato-based sauce that was way too sweet, tempered by the occasional sliver of chorizo.

The garlic bread for mopping up sauce took me right back to the days of Pizza Hut's foil-wrapped, delivered numbers: soft white bread soaked in butter.

Roasted baby beets, watercress, radicchio, hazelnuts, pickled golden shallots, goats cheese cigars and apple balsamic
Next was an epic salad from the selection of three full-sized options featuring baby beetroots beneath a mound of watercress and radicchio dressed with crushed hazelnuts and an apple balsamic vinegar.

The piece de resistance of the salad were the goat's cheese cigars of crisp pastry cylinders filled with airy, creamy goat's cheese in a heavenly match with the baby beets.

David Blackmore full-blooded wagyu cheeseburger with chips
I was wooed by the wagyu cheeseburger with chips served in a mini terracotta pot. The chips and tart mustard dipping sauce hit the spot just right but the large burger was a disappointment.

The roughly minced wagyu beef patty was served closer to rare than medium-rare and had an unexpected amount of chewy, inedible bits while the white, poppy seed-topped bun was thoroughly uninteresting, detracting from the whole experience - dill pickles, mustard seed onions, tomato chilli jam, lettuce and all. At least the chips were great.

Slow cooked grain-fed Angus short rib with sweet & sour glaze, spiced eggplant and garlic chips
Much better were the Angus beef short ribs from the mains menu, also served on a wooden board. Accompanied by roasted eggplant cubes, soft, sweet roasted eschallots, and crisp garlic chips, the tender, slow-cooked beef was still pink inside and relished in its sweet and sour glaze.

The Potting Shed, like its older sibling next door, knows exactly what it is, what it's offering and who it's making that offering to. A well-considered addition to the barely-existent nighttime offerings in Alexandria, it will likely grow and improve like The Grounds has over time, and I'm happy to potter about in the meantime.

The Potting Shed on Urbanspoon


john | heneedsfood said...

Wow, the short rib looks spectacular. I still haven't been to The Grounds due to the annoying crowds. Something tells me I won't get to the Potting Shed for a long time either.

missklicious said...

the food looks great! i've only been to the grounds a handful of times due to the crowds, but will definitely be paying a visit to try this out

Annie said...

food looks very scrumptious! wonder if the lines will be as insane as the grounds though...

Padaek said...

Love their outdoor seating! The mussels look great - sad it was so sweet. Cool looking place though. :)

Tina said...

John - No way! Weekends are pretty bad admittedly... The Potting Shed didn't seem nearly as bad queue-wise (we didn;t have to wait at all the Friday night we went), but will have to see how it develops.

Hi missklicious - Yeah, definitely worth checking out for the fun fitout alone!

Hi Annie - So far, not as bad (at dinner)

Hi Padaek - Very cool; great local palce to just drop in for a drink too.

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

The beef short ribs sound incredible, and loving the look of that salad too.

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