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The Beginnings Co-creators of The Ground Coffee and Food, Maddie Garrett and Vince Moefa'auo, enthusiastically swung open the doors to this Red Hill café in February 2018 with a desire to provide a friendly, community-focused café which served quality coffee, provided personal service and had a menu featuring consistent, specialty food offerings.
Maddie and Vince had previously worked together at The Dragonfly Café at Eden Nursery in Carseldine where they shared a passion for fresh, quality food. Combining Maddie's skills as a pastry chef and Vinces' experience in commercial hospitality seemed like the perfect recipe to create a café of their own. So, they decided to take a culinary leap of faith and voile – The Ground Coffee and Food was born.
With all this in mind, I stopped by The Ground for lunch to sample the new menu, and to see whether their vision had come to reality. Here's what happened.
What is the café like? The Ground can be easily found on the entry level to the impressive $27m Brisbane Broncos Clive Berghofer Centre at Fulcher Road, Red Hill just 4km from the CBD. The building has facilities for the footballers and athletes including a gymnasium, physiotherapy room, cross-fit training area, weightlifting centre, lap pool, ice and spa baths and a sauna. On the upper levels, offices, meeting rooms and function spaces are used by administrative and coaching staff, while a learning centre has been built with local school and community groups in mind.
While this section of the facility is not for general admittance, The Ground Coffee and Food is an independent operation and entry to the cafe can be gained via the front entrance. You don't need to worry about club membership to gain entry. If you don't like stairs, an access ramp is available off the street level.
Walking through the reception area and past the Legends Wall of League with a screen showing sporting glories of yesteryear, footy photos, shiny trophies and collectable memorabilia, I landed at the front counter of The Ground.
The café has 2 covered seating areas – inside and an outdoor courtyard. The thing that catches my attention are the high ceilings, both inside and out which let in lots of natural light and give a sense of openness and space. Don't forget to also look down and notice the red bricks on the floor which pay homage to the suburb of Red Hill.
Cool cement bench seating is bordered by a small garden alongside monochromatic outdoor furniture and a stylish, minimalist feel. The pristine, manicured green training lawns would make any gardener envious and is book-ended by towering, white football goalposts. The view of the expansive grassy patch adds a depth of space to the site.
Inside seating is also available and faces open large cafe-style retractable windows to look out towards the street.
The (new) menu at The Ground Eighteen months after opening and having found its foodie feet, The Ground has extended its menu which Maddie describes as "an American east coast influence with a splash of Mexican".
After finding a table in the outdoors area I cruised through the menu over a smooth Cleanskin Coffee. Coffee loyalty cards are available to save for a free coffee after 9. I decided to order the juicy, pan-seared Philly Cheese Steak with melted jack cheese, onion, belle peppers and philly cream cheese on a bouncy, buttery brioche roll along with a side serving of salted chips.
The beef tacos ($15) were too tempting to leave without trying, so they found a place on my table as well. The beef in the trifecta of tacos with spiced beans, tomato relish, corn salsa, shredded lettuce and guacamole had a gently spiciness complemented with the coolness of avocado and coriander and served neatly on a wooden breadboard. Cutlery was optional. I couldn't help but to simply dive in.
Both dishes were fresh, flavoursome and filling leaving me feeling blissfully contented minus the "oh, I've eaten too much" guilt.
What's lunch without a cheeky dessert, right? Well, the handmade chocolate slice created from scratch by pastry chef Michael with a strong hint of caramel, soft, creamy philli cheese icing and sweet, fresh raspberries was the perfect finisher to have alongside my Cleanskin coffee. Yum. That's one helluva lunch!
Next time I will leave room for the El Chapo Taco (smoked chicken, chipotle mayo, salsa, shredded lettuce, beans and guacamole) and the Hot Dogs (New Yorker $12.50) and Chicago ($14.50)
Growing a local café community
As my visit was nearing an end, it struck me that apart from the delicious food, the thing that stood out to me was the sense of community which the Ground has created and tapped into. A strong following of regulars means that there is often some friendly banter and laughter swaying between customers and staff over the coffee machine.
I left very impressed and was already planning to return another day for Round 2.
I was interested to learn that The Ground is the sister café to the popular and uber-cool Halo Ground café in Brookes Street on the edge of Fortitude Valley. Halo Ground, which opened 6 months after The Ground at Red Hill (with the addition of Stu Mulhern), is surrounded by three neighbouring churches which influenced its heavenly name. It also brings a sense of European flair to the area. Good to know.
So, if you want to get a fix of footy and food, why not try The Ground Coffee and Food.
The Ground Coffee and Food are open 6 days from Monday to Saturday. Street parking is available in Fulcher Road and buses stop alongside neighbouring Waterworks Road. The Ground is simple to spot by neighbouring 2 landmark buildings - The former Ithaca TAFE Training Building and the Broncos other training field, Gilbert Park.
The footy merchandise shop is also located inside the Centre's reception and accessible at street level, so maybe take home a Broncos jersey, football or supporter gear to help cheer on the team for the next week's game.