Dirty Bird – $15
Reuben Hills cafe, 61 Albion Street, Surry Hills
At Reuben Hills cafe in Surry Hills, it’s no surprise to see a swarm of people waiting out front. They’re famous ‘round these parts for their deliciously exotic coffee and flavoursome food. In fact, when Toby Maguire visited Sydney recently to film and promote The Great Gatsby, he lauded Reuben Hills as one of his favourite coffee houses in the city. Moments before that, Baz Luhrmann had proclaimed him a coffee aficionado.
Out front the cafe looks like another terrace house but inside, you quickly become aware that it’s more of a warehouse. Up top, silver coloured barrels and contraptions loom over the open kitchen and dining area. This machinery is what they use to brew their coffee. Downstairs, it’s light, bright and airy – with the back roller-door wide open.
We waited about 20 minutes to get a table, but we didn’t mind as we were eager to find out what all the fuss was about. Plus, our waitress was lovely and cheery, making sure we were comfortably sat with refreshments in a waiting area.
The menu is Mexican inspired, with a dash of rude language. For example, you can indulge in their ‘Really f*ing great Fried Chicken’. Comfortingly for those weekend late risers like us, breakfast items are served all day. They also have a host of exotic coffees, but we left the adventurism for another day and chose our regular skim cap and long black. For our meals, I chose the ‘Dirty Bird’ and Bert chose the ‘NOT Reuben’.
NOT Reuben – $16
My Dirty Bird burger was served on brioche bread with cheese, tomatillo salsa, pickles and chipotle aioli. And boy did it have a kick to it! The bread was beautifully soft and its contents full of flavour. I should mention though that I was mostly getting the taste of the spicy chicken coming through.
The pièce de résistance was the NOT Reuben sandwich. I couldn’t get enough of it. So much so that I made Bert give me half of it for three quarters of my burger (because he wasn’t going to give it up without a fight, so I had to turn my negotiations up to full power). Inside the artisan rye slices, the wagyu salt brisket was crisp on the outside, yet gorgeously soft and tender on the inside. Matched with the pickled slaw, manchego cheese and horseradish cream, it was nothing short of spectacular.