ellaslist Reviews The Groundskeeper Cafe, Ryde
Mums & Bubs
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By Rachel Moses Falecki, ellaslist explorer
I have been hearing murmurs about The Grounds Keeper Café (formerly Ryde Park Café) for a few months now. I “liked” the Facebook page a while ago and photos of the enticing middle-eastern food and home made cakes kept popping up in my news feed.
The Challenge – A Peaceful Brunch with 6 Kids
So, I arranged with a couple of girlfriends of mine to meet at the café for brunch to check out if it could live up to the hype. Between us, we have six children ranging in age from nine months through to four and a half years old. That translates to many mouths to feed, entertainment required and a lot of pram room needed if a peaceful brunch is to be achieved!
Near A Playground – BIG TICK
The first thing that strikes you about The Grounds Keeper Café is the beautiful serene surrounds. Located right in the centre of Ryde Park, you might miss the café if you didn’t know it was there. There’s a basketball court, bike and scooter track, covered picnic tables, plenty of parkland for running around and many trees offering lots of shade. The only little hurdle we encountered was getting the kids to keep walking to the café instead of stopping to play in the playground. But a promise of fun after food and some milkshakes saved us fairly quickly.
The waitress was very accommodating and arranged a table big enough for the group and our three prams. I imagine on a weekend it would get extremely busy so I don’t know if it would have been quite so easy. But they do take reservations, so that’s a plus these days when many places only do weekend walk-ins.
The café is almost completely open (as in there are no windows but still has complete roof cover) so you really do get the feeling of dining outdoors. There is an old school rustic charm to the place with a warm sandstone exterior and exposed timber beams for the ceiling. There is a lovely water feature beside the dining area but on the day we visited the waitress informed us that the council was in the process of getting it fixed. Regardless, the café offered a relaxing space and we really enjoyed the easy-going vibe. Over summer a comfortable eating experience might be compromised unless fans were installed. The waitress did mention that when it is cold, they offer blankets and turn the heaters on.
As for the food, it absolutely lived up to its “Facebook fame”. The menu is extensive and has a distinct middle-eastern influence. Kids are catered for with a separate little breakfast and lunch menu. I ordered the Garden Pot (Zaatar fried eggs in a clay pot, served with tomato, cucumber, mint, olives and labna with pita $17) and it was cooked to perfection. My friends seemed pretty satisfied with the hearty Brekkie wrap (Eggs, bacon, roquette, grilled haloumi and tomato relish $14). The kids were happy with their toasties and tasty milkshakes. We loved that the shakes were served in take-away cups with straws so there were no spills! I suggest you visit on an empty stomach, as the portion sizes were very generous. We were too full to try any of the homemade cakes but I am sure we will be back!
Something for Everyone
As every parent knows, the holy grail of child-friendly dining experiences is finding a good café with a great play area. While the café is only a stones throw away from the play area, I still felt it was not close enough to safely leave the little ones alone particularly as it is not fenced. Other than that, this playground ticked most boxes. It had all the essentials – slide, swing, a climbing contraption, rotating wheel and sea-saw.
The best part about the location of the café to the playground is that for a family outing it would easily cater for kids aged one through to about six years of age. After that, it might not be challenging or exciting enough. But the bike and scooter track plus basketball court offers something for the older kids in the family too. While the playground has some leafy cover, a shade sail over the area would be valuable throughout summertime.
After an hour of play we had all worked up a thirst so returned to the café for some healthy take-away freshly squeezed juice ($6.50). A nice little touch is being able to order, pay and then take a buzzer back to the playground until the order is ready. Happy kids and happy mums!
In a Nutshell
What makes the cafe kid-friendly - Kids menu and proximity to playground
Atmosphere – Very relaxed, easy going
The Food – Middle eastern inspired, extensive menu
Value-for-Money – Excellent – Big servings
Special features and Fun bits – Home made cakes and the playground nearby
Who is the cafe best suited for? - All ages of kids
What did you love – Good service, great food, relaxed morning for the whole family
What didn’t you like – Public toilets could be cleaner
Top tips – Make a reservation, go early in summertime to avoid the heat both in the cafe and playground as not under shelter. Dress warmly for winter visits.
What You Need to Know
Open Monday, Wednesday to Friday: 9am – 4pm – Breakfast until 3pm, Lunch: 11:30am – 3pm
Saturday, Sunday, Public/School holidays: 8am – 4pm – Breakfast until 11:30am, Lunch: 11:30am – 3pm
Phone: 02 9808 4696
Address: Ryde Park, 30 Argyle Avenue, Ryde
Parking: Ample street parking (unmetered but time restrictions apply). Café is a short walk from the street.
Amenities: Public toilets located right behind the café. Change table located in disabled toilet.
More Info: groundskeepercafe.com.au
Rachel Moses Falecki is a Sydney based TV producer, married to resident builder Dylan Falecki on Channel 10’s The Living Room. Together, they share two little ones – Lucinda (3 years old) and Phoenix (9 months old). Rachel knew unequivocally since she was just 12 years of age that she wanted to be in the media industry. Over the past 15 years, she has worked for every major network and production company in Australia on shows such as Gladiators, What’s Good For You, The Secret Millionaire, Australia’s Next Top Model, So You Think You Can Dance and The Voice. Since becoming a mum, she says her beautiful kids have become the real critics of her creative skills so she is always looking for ways to entertain them!
“I love the saying the days are long but the years are short…it’s very true and so we make the best of our family time together exploring the world. I hope you enjoy my reviews”.