Did you know that a Nina Proudman effect existed?
I was at my book club recently and we were discussing this topic, I'm not even sure how it came up in conversation as it was totally unrelated to the book we had read, but you know how women can be. According to one member (who can't bear Nina - Mon Dieu!) there are websites out there devoted to Nina and her style of dress, so when I got home I googled it and yep there are literally dozens of websites/facebook pages that tell you how to recreate the Nina effect on yourself or in your home. For evidence click here (ladies - make sure you scroll down past the half naked Patrick in a bear skin!).
Then it hit me - I have seen this effect in real life, at The Grounds Keeper Cafe in Ryde.
We ate there last Sunday for lunch and from my very comfortable perch in the cafe I had noticed that all of the ladies that were coming and going were wearing tight jeans, long boots with heels, layers of tops and loads of accessories - just like Nina. So obviously the ladies of Ryde are glued to their sets every Wednesday night with their offspring tucked firmly into bed.
Now my calves (no, not my little bulls) are rather sturdy and hence I can't wear long boots so I was feeling a wee bit sorry for myself in my plimsolls and baggy jeans. To ease my mild state of despair, I of course devoured some of the Grounds Keeper Cafe's mighty fine fare.
The Grounds Keeper is situated smack bang in the middle of Ryde Park. It hasn't been open that long and you do get the impression that it is still finding its feet in regards to service BUT the food is delicious and reasonably priced. We arrived just before lunch time and all the tables were full. I had a little chat to the lovely owners and they took my number and told me that they would call me when a table came free. This was actually ideal as the little bulls had charged straight into the playground right next to the cafe and were clearly more interested in playing than eating.
After a wee while we got the call and the brilliant thing is, we could leave the boys in the playground whilst we sat at our table in the cafe, cause we had full sight of them. The cafe is a bit more like a canteen. You order and pay at the counter and friendly staff bring out the meals to your table. The Grounds Keeper's vibe is very kid friendly - not only can you watch your kids in the playground but they also come zipping through the cafe on their scooters, which doesn't seem to faze the staff.
A water feature pleasantly separates the cafe from the playground. Just watch out for the local wildlife who may want to share your lunch. I'm not sure what would happen on a rainy day at the cafe as it is quite exposed to the elements, but on a sunny day it is very pleasant being at one with mother nature.
The Grounds Keeper menu has a definite Middle Eastern influence. Think mezze plates, fattoush salad, shakshouka etc but there are also your typical Aussie cafe favourites like the wagu beef burger served with chippies and divine garlicky aioli ($14). All of the serves that I saw coming out of the very busy kitchen were of a decent size and I'm definitely keen on going back and trying more of the lunch time menu and more importantly their bumper breakfast menu.
There are few lunch items especially for kids, all at $9.50. We ordered the little bulls a serve of chicken tenders and chips. The portion was huge and easily fed them and I love the side of tomato sauce in the funky little bottle. The waitress kindly gave us a second plate so that the little bulls didn't have to share - these are are all the little things that add up to a cafe being child friendly.
The Grounds Keeper's coffee was good, really good (Cafe di Gabriel) and they serve a really smart kids milkshake for $4 in a takeaway coffee cup. There was actually a mix up with our order and we received 4 milkshakes instead of 2 ..... but no complaints from us as they gave us the extra 2 on the house. If tea is more your thing, they have an interesting selection of teas such as Turkish Apple and Strawberry Champagne that are served in quaint Japanese style tea pots.
The sweet treats at the cafe looked divine. I had indulged my mild state of despair enough so I didn't order a freshly made raspberry ganache tart or a honey, mascarpone and almond muffin. I suggest dear parents if you aren't lucky enough to score a table at the cafe, grab a takeaway coffee and muffin and head on down to the playground or the bocce court and enjoy being in the outdoors. There is also a lovely rotunda where you could sit, eat and feel, well rotund!
The Grounds Keeper Cafe is now firmly on our list of the best child friendly cafes in Sydney. It is beckoning us back for breakfast and maybe this time I shall try and pour myself into some tight jeans and throw on a few accessories, but sorry Nina freaks, my calves ain't going no where, so I shall still be in my plimsolls x
Ryde Park Cnr Blaxland Rd & Princes St Ryde NSW 2112
8.00am - 4.00pm