61 Albion Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
+61 2 9211 5556
I’m finally wrapping up my American-slash-Mexican series with a review of Sydney’s Reuben Hills, the first place I ate at when I was in Sydney earlier this winter. Like Melbourne, Sydney is also big on the American food craze at the moment but if Marty’s and my meal at Reuben Hills was anything to go by, I think Sydney does it slightly better than us. Slightly.
Reuben Hills serve a quasi-Reuben sandwich, they also happen to be located in Surry Hills. That probably explains the name. Upon landing at SYD (but not without delays due to tarmac chaos at MEL earlier that morning – that’ll teach me to book a flight on the fifth busiest route in the world during the morning peak!), we were craving a solid meal – but nothing that would spoil dinner for us. So sandwiches, it was!
Reuben Hills takes its design cues from Melbourne – think converted warehouse with retro kitsch artefacts and furniture all over, and lots and lots of hipsters. Reuben Hills may have been packed with students and Surry Hill’s creative types, but we were fortunate enough to find two empty seats on a communal table by the back garage door.
Reuben Hills is all about comfort foods such as sandwiches, fried chicken and tacos. They all sounded pretty good, though I did think that they went OTT with the descriptions. For example, they wrote ‘that shit cray’ next to the affogato and described their cold pour-over coffee as ‘really fucking refreshing.’ They also claimed to serve ‘really fucking great fried chicken.’ ‘Pffft, what tryhards!’ I thought when I read the menu. However, their tactics must have worked for we ended up ordering two of the three aforementioned items.
I loved how the water comes in retro drink bottles and served in cute colourful cups.
This is Marty’s cold pour-over coffee. Having enjoyed a similar style of coffee in Cairns last year, he decided to see if Reuben Hills’ version fared better – it did. It had a more intense flavour, with orange and cocoa notes complimenting each other.
I decided to be boring by ordering a latte. At $4, the coffee definitely isn’t cheap but it was delicious and, dare I say it, on par with Melbourne’s best.
Marty had the NOT Reuben sandwich – and by that, we mean Reuben Hills’ rendition of America’s famous corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese sandwich. With the rye bread being the only constant, this beauty was filled with wagyu salt brisket, pickled slaw, manchego and horseradish cream.
It was a lovely sandwich (or in Marty’s words, ‘it was alright’); I especially loved how the piquant slaw and horseradish cream contrasted beautifully against the fatty slices of brisket. I guess the only thing I’d criticise would be its size – Marty wolfed it down in a matter of minutes.
I had the fried chicken because who can say ‘no’ to fried chicken?! I’d have to say that my dish stole the limelight from Marty’s fake Reuben sandwich. The boneless pieces of chicken were tender and we both fell in love with the seasoning – think KFC’s Original Recipe chicken with fresh herbs and a kick of spice. They especially went well with the two dipping sauces, both of which were excellent (chill mayonnaise and herb & chilli salsa).
I let Marty eat the two chillies, which he loved because it had been cured in vinegar. I also liked that a piece of fresh tortilla served as an edible paper towel to mop up what little grease dripped from the chicken. I don’t like to openly swear a lot but it really was fucking great fried chicken.
Our original plan was to just leave after finishing our food, but we couldn’t say no to some sugar. Reuben Hills has an impressive range of milkshakes including salted caramel and lychee, coconut & lime. On any other day, I would have happily ordered the second option but we had an ice cream sandwich to devour…
Marty decided to get a root beer float. For some reason, he expected something ‘really fancy’ (or in RH terms, ‘fucking absolutely awesome’ I guess) so he was a bit disappointed to be given a shake cup with instructions to ‘pour the root beer in.’
The drink itself wasn’t terrible but after our amazing meal, I guess we were expecting a bit more. Still, we gave props to the lovely vanilla bean ice cream which looked lovely with its vanilla bean freckles all over.
I have no idea why this is called the Doggs breakfast but if breakfast tasted this good, I’d actually eat ice cream sandwiches more often. The sandwich itself reminded of those Peter’s Ice Cream Monaco bars that used to be popular when I was young. I loved the chewy biscuit as much as I loved the sticky salted caramel sauce that accompanied the little package.
I haven’t been to many ‘fucking great’ cafés in Sydney, let alone one that made a beautiful latte (any recommendations would be appreciated though). However, Reuben Hills proved that you can get a more than half decent latte – as long as you’re prepared to pay $4 for it. We both loved Reuben Hills so much that we planned to come again before we flew home – except we never did for we got too carried away with ramen and banh mi.
For now, this caterpillar says goodbye to American food and a BIG hello to Sydney. Yep, that’s right, for the next few weeks or so, I’ll be covering a list of Sydney eateries. Stay tuned for a Game of Thrones-themed dinner, one of the best udon dishes I’ve ever had and lots and lots of ramen.