Thursday, March 19, 2015

Reuben Hills

February 24 & 25, 2015

We both had to work during our couple of days in Surry Hills, but there was enough time to squeeze in breakfast each morning. Having knocked off one Sydney icon in bills, we headed for another - Reuben Hills, one of Surry Hills' key hipster haunts.

It's a beautiful space, repurposed industrial and split into two levels: roastery upstairs, cafe downstairs. The cafe has low key neon artwork on the walls, gorgeous native plant centrepieces on the tables and lots of light streaming in the big back door. The coffee is excellent, the best I've had in Sydney (added bonus: they do an almond and macadamia milk option if you're over dairy and soy). The menu is interesting too, inspired by South and Central American food. Vegans have pretty limited options: avocado, coriander and lime on toast ($13.50) and a sago pudding (see below), but there are plenty of egg and dairy-based options for vegetarians.

On the first morning I ordered the baleada, a Honduran tortilla with scrambled eggs, salsa blanca and charro beans ($12). It looks a bit lonely on that giant plate, but it's a decent-sized meal and the bean and egg mix is pretty filling. The beans and the salsa are spicy and warming - it's a lovely way to start the day. 

Cindy ordered the vegan dish - blueberry sago with tapioca pearls, banana, agave syrup, almond milk and cacao nibs ($12.50).

The sago was a big scoop of jellyish gloop with the blueberries incorporated into it. It was sweet and covered in crunchy little cocoa nibs. Cindy enjoyed it quite a lot, and it's nice that Reuben Hills are doing something vegan-friendly on the sweet side.

We were impressed enough on our first visit that we decided to swing by again on our way to the airport. I stuck with savoury - the green chillaquiles with smoked pinto beans, seeds and currants, goats feta, sumac and a poached egg ($17.50). I wasn't quite sure what chillaquiles were - turns out they're crispy-fried tortilla bits (these were suspiciously like corn chips). The toppings were just incredible - smoky, spicy and full of textures and flavours. I was scraping the sauce out with my fingers by the end.

The main reason we'd returned was Cindy's desire to try this next dish: a pancake with date caramel, pecan praline and quandong icecream ($14).

Look at that! It's a beautiful dish - big crunchy/chewy praline chunks, a hefty smear of jam and the subtly flavoured ice-cream dotted with edible flowers. Cindy reported that it was too sweet (yep, even for her) - freeing the pecans from their toffee casing might've kept this in check, allowing the jam and icecream to feature properly.

Reuben Hills is an excellent cafe - the coffee is top notch, the menu interesting and varied and the prices not obscene. Service was friendly and efficient and it's a lovely place to linger in while you gear up to face the day. Of course, maybe all my positive vibes about Reuben Hills reflect the fact that we got to share the space with this little guy on the first day!



Reuben Hills
61 Albion St, Surry Hills
02 9211 5556

Accessibility: The back door (on Albion Way) is wide and flat, while the Albion St entry is a standard door with a step up. The interior is reasonably spacious with a clear corridor through the centre. The toilets are fully accessible. Your order is taken at the table and payment is at a lower counter.

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