The Grounds of Alexandria finally set to launch in Sydney CBD

The Grounds of Alexandria is crossing the harbour.
The Grounds of Alexandria is crossing the harbour. Photo: Nicole Elphick

After more false starts than an infants school athletics carnival, the Grounds of Alexandria's Sydney CBD venue is finally set to launch. Don't expect barnyard doors when it launches in late May; Acme & Co design have swapped the barnyard chic for roaring 1920s inspiration. Lashings of European marble mixes with 100-year-old French timber floors, which means Kevin Bacon, the Grounds' resident pig, won't be hoofing it to the Galeries for the opening of the Grounds of the City.


If you can have soup in a can, why not open a restaurant in its packaging? Icebergs restaurateur Maurice Terzini's next Bali venture will transform the containers he's using to ship equipment from Europe into Luigi's Pizza + Bar.

"It'll be a low-fi surf punk-inspired pizzeria. It opens early July on a block next to Deus, in Canggu," he says. Seven containers will be used in the Lugi's project. Last year the Bondi-based restaurateur launched Da Maria, his first restaurant in Bali, and is working on a massive deal to open a new pool club venue on the holiday island.


With chef Mark Knox on the hop from Public Dining Room to open District Brasserie in the CBD, the Balmoral restaurant has been quick to fill his kitchen clogs. Ex-Quay restaurant senior sous chef Daniel Rudolph, who has worked in the brigades of several hatted Sydney restaurants, is the new head chef on the Balmoral waterfront at Public Dining.


"It is going to be the best fish shop between Maroubra and the fish markets," Luke Harris says of the next cab off the rank in Sydney's hottest food postcode of 2017, Double Bay.

With China Diner announcing plans to open a satellite in the affluent harbourside suburb, following hot-on-the-heels of Bondi chef Orazio D'Elia, Lobo Plantation's Eddie Levy and the Island's Adam Abrams, Harris says his family's deal will be a double play for Double Bay.

The Grounds of Alexandria is ready to launch in Sydney's CBD. From left: Vince Alafaci (Acme & Co), Caroline Choker ...
The Grounds of Alexandria is ready to launch in Sydney's CBD. From left: Vince Alafaci (Acme & Co), Caroline Choker (Acme & Co), Ramzey Choker (co-founder and creative director) and Jack Hanna (co-founder and head of coffee). Photo: Charlotte Curd

"The fish shop will be part of Harris Farm, we've just bought the About Life site, it'll hopefully settle in three weeks," he says. Harris explains the long-term plan is to close it for 10 weeks, re-opening a Harris Farm flagship store at the site.


Weyman Leong, the 2002 recipient of the Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year Award, is shutting his Willoughby restaurant on May 27. Weyman, who also worked at David Thompson's Nahm restaurant in Bangkok, opened Origin Dining on Willoughby Road in 2012.

The chef says a combination of factors led to his decision. The building was "up for renewal" and the Willoughby eating precinct had become increasingly tough. The chef cited mixed trading and spending habits as two of the reasons for his looming departure.


Leong says he will start looking for work as a chef. "Running a small business is tough in this day and age without backers and financiers. Owner-chef restaurants are a dying breed (in Australia). So that's it, another restaurant bites the dust, in a jovial sense. The industry chews it up and spits it out, constant reinvention is needed."