This is Part Two of the food outing in celebration of the blog’s birthday. After stuffing ourselves with one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in a long time at Flour & Stone, Kulinary Adventures of Kath and I picked up another foodie companion, Fashion Obsessed Girl, on Oxford Street on our way to Reuben Hills. The meeting between them was quite funny as they had read each other’s profiles on the Foodie Companions page and had read my blog posts where I had been out with the other, and could finally put a face to a name.
I had been wanting to visit Reuben for some time, having heard food bloggers talk about their Salted Caramel Shake, and after having a look through their online menu, I thought it warranted a closer look-see.
Reuben Hills is situated on a very quiet part of Albion Street. We arrived just when the peak lunch crowd was ebbing, but were told it would still be a 20 minute wait. After writing our name down on a clipboard, we headed outside to loiter around aimlessly and sat chatting away before a waitress came to look for us. I like that she actually went around to the different groups of people saying my name as opposed to just shouting out my name at the doorway and when I didn’t jump up immediately, call the next waiting person.
The place has a high ceiling and upstairs area, which apparently is their ‘roastery’. Reuben Hills has a very overwhelming industrial warehouse feel about it, with fluorescent lights and a reasonable amount of natural lighting streaming through windows and the back ‘garage door’ and you can just hear their hip-hop music over the tide of combined chitter-chatter. There’s seating grouped in tables, bar tables, and large communal tables close to the back where we were seated. I’m not really sure of how the waitresses keep track of who belongs to which group with the haphazard nature of seating, but they somehow manage to remember it all.
Our table had a large bouquet of colourful foliage, which brightened up the place considerably.
Tap water to share is brought without having to ask, served in funky glass bottles and coloured plastic cups. We were asked if we wanted to order any drinks while we examined the menu. Girl from the Bus went for a skim Salted Caramel Shake ($8.50), I asked for a skim flat white ($4), and Fashion Obsessed Girl ordered an organic combination orange-grapefruit juice ($5).
As for the salted caramel shake…
There’s a lot of shake. It arrives three-quarters full and while Girl from the Bus was in bliss with the first few sips, she eventually tired close to the end and couldn’t finish. I had a sip and agreed it was delicious – creamy, perfect caramel and just the right amount of salt, but it was incredibly rich and I couldn’t have eaten a meal with it. This is more something I would get takeaway and take my time in drinking it verrrry slowly – which is saying something as I’m a notorious sweet tooth.
Meanwhile, in saying that a girl dining alone next to us had a black coffee, a salted caramel shake, as well as the crab tacos and put it all away and left before us. To this day, I still can’t believe it.
Anyway, I preferred my flat white. I had seen some bloggers’ photos with quite intricate latte art on their coffees; mine was a bit messy but it was nice nonetheless. Sugar comes from a jar in the centre of the communal table, which is brown and adds a nice caramelised flavour.
Our food arrived with a flourish very quickly. Reuben Hills predominantly serves Latin American ‘dude food’ with chilli and chipotle being regular words on the menu. You’ll find it hard to escape a spice hit with most of the savoury dishes here.
Kath, being a lover of seafood, ordered the Crab Tacos with avocado, sweet corn, smoked tomato and rocket ($18):
The shredded pieces of crab meat were incredibly sweet and creamy, and very fresh. It was a very light dish, but even she couldn’t finish it. Kath never seems to be able to finish her food around me! She also doesn’t like lime (crazy woman), so I ended up pinching it so I could use it on my Dirty Bird ($15).
The Dirty Bird is a deliciously spongy brioche bun with a spiced grilled chicken fillet, tomatillo salsa, cheese, pickles, and chipotle aioli. The brioche was wonderfully buttery and its size meant there was no chance I was going to be able to pick up the burger with my hands and eat it in traditional style, so knife and fork it was. The salad inside was a refreshing contrast to the butter in the brioche and creamy (and quite spicy) aioli, and the blackened grilled chicken was very flavoursome. Funnily enough, as much as I dislike cucumber I quite enjoyed the pickles as they were sliced very thinly and saturated with vinegar – something I absolutely love.
Fashion Obsessed Girl had had her eye on the Really F***ing Great Fried Chicken ($16) ever since I had linked her to the menu. I kid you not, that is it’s name, and she had a giggle with the waitress when she ordered it, who I’m sure gets it all the time! The generous amount of fried chicken comes in a little plastic basket on a tortilla skin with green chillies and two types of dipping sauce – a creamy chipotle aioli like the one on my burger, as well as a much spicier salsa. The chicken were pieces of chicken thigh, quite lean but cooked well so that the meat was still succulent and juicy. They hadn’t been coated in a large quantity of batter, so they weren’t what you would call ‘crunchy’ (go to KFC if you want to eat more flour than meat), but this way it highlighted the chicken and the dipping sauce. I liked it with the aioli, but the salsa with its dangerous shade of red was a bit too much for me. Fashion Obsessed Girl, who is used to curries and spices, preferred the salsa over the aioli. While the basket of fried chicken was tasty, one can really only have so much fried chicken…
Us three girls tidied up before paying the bill and exiting the premises, receiving ‘thank you’s from the waitresses we passed. While I had originally felt a little out of place with the hipster vibe of the place, the service was incredibly friendly and efficient, and food was of a good quality and at an all right price. I’m sure I’ll make the effort to come by and taste some of the other options on the menu.
61 Albion Street,
Surry Hills, NSW 2010
(02) 9211 5556