vibe: 4 stars
design: industro-chic, earthy exposed brick walls, concrete floors and the oh-so-hip right now, neon lighting.
food: 3 stars, coffee 2 stars
damage: Eats are reasonably priced from $6-$18, coffee is super exxy at $5
Right off the bat I’d like to say that I really wanted to like this place. I was giving it my 5 star attention, thanks to their awesomely welcoming and urban rustic fitout, its 5 min walk from my house location and well, its vibe.
But it failed. In my 3 visits, my experience got progressively worse. Why? Let me break it down for you so it’s really fair.
1: The coffee is bad bad bad. This is a joint that roasts its own, has aspirations of supplying other cafes and has frankly, promoted its merits based on their coffee philosophy. Or what I like to call, their coffeelosophy . These guys select their own beans from growers in South America, roast it themselves and offer to teach others how they do it. At 5 bucks a pop, it should be hair-standing-on-the-back-of-your-neck awesome. It is not. Sad face.
2: The menu is limited. I dig what they are trying to do, it’s just that it makes the dining experience challenging. What the hell am I on about? Well the guys at Reuben Hills are not South American yet their menu is. By way of explanation of their food style & philosophy, they have included the following at the top of their printed menu;
“Baleada (Bal-YA-da) originates from El Progreso Honduras and its one of their most original and popular foods. It’s a wheat flour tortilla, often quite thick, folded in half and filled with an array of fillings. The ones we were eating always had cheese and egg and some sort of meat.” Right….
On 2 occasions, I had the Baked Eggs. Once with Jamon, steamed spinach, Ranchero Sauce & Schiacciata and once with Goats Curd, steamed spinach, Ranchero Sauce and Schiacciata. I love baked eggs. Baffi & Mo in Redfern do the most rocking Baked Eggs on the planet (Disclaimer: I have not eaten baked eggs all over the planet so this is clearly a ploy to convince you of their supreme awesomeness). The Baked Eggs at Reuben Hills are a bit too runny to qualify as baked. The Ranchero Sauce is so overpowering you cant really taste the schiacciata and the spinach is a bit light on. Having said that, I still enjoyed them well enough on both occasions. The baked ciabatta that comes on the side is a nice touch and perfect for soaking up the whole gooey mess once you pierce your first egg.
The rest of the menu looks interesting but if you’re not in the mood for South American bar food, you’re left with the ‘Doggs Breakfast’, an ice cream sandwich with salted caramel; a breakfast trifle of rolled oats, vanilla & anise stonefruits with cassia & ginger yoghurt; a Jamon, rocket, goats curd and fig sandwich and a Brioche with dulce de leche or choc cherry ganache. All in all, a somewhat confused menu that relies on the diner’s particular penchant for one type of food or utter eclecticism.
What’s good about Reuben Hills is their on trend use of grandma’s old plates, Depression-era recycled glass bottles and their interior design. They really got the mix of communal dining, pit-stop style coffee break and sit down lunch date, just right. This is a café that ‘feels’ good. It really does. The staff are warm and friendly, the clientele is a mixture of hipster art students, ad men and urban professionals and the space flows nicely. The upshot is I really wanted to like this place! To be honest if the coffee was better, this review would probably have gone a different way.
So there it is Reuben Hills. If you’re gonna put yourself out there as coffee aficionados, you better deliver. Improve your coffee (and I’m sure they will) and the quirky menu could be forgiven. If you love South American bar food, eclectic ice cream snacks and cool industrial interiors then give Reuben Hills a try. Just don’t go for the coffee…
61 Albion St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
7am – 4 pm