I’ve kept this hidden for a few months now, but I think it’s time to air out my secret and come clean. I think I’ve found the best sausage roll in Sydney. Sure, it’s a big claim and I’m being rather brash, swinging it out there and all that but I’m convinced the butchers of La Macelleria have managed to perfect this Aussie icon.

Now I know that fans of Bourke Street Bakery might protest and I do love their beautiful rendition with aromatic fennel and who can turn down a lamb shank pie from Black Star or a vegetable quiche from La Banette? But for me, the Bondi butchers currently hold residence on the first-place dais.


Clockwise: Yellow Berkel slicers, Panini, Glasseye Creek Wild Meat Sauce, Salumin and Cheese menu board

This up market Italian butchery opened late last year under the care of Maurice Terzini and Robert Marchetti: if these two seem familiar it’s because they’re the guys behind the Bondi institution Icebergs, North Bondi Italian Food and the new Nield Avenue. Never ones to fall short of a dazzling fit out, La Marcelleria’s a lovely clash of traditional (black and white tiles and chalkboards) with the urban (neon type), populated by organic, locally sourced meat and home made salumi. Everything is lovingly shown off, dangling in glass cabinets or artfully arranged in bowls and baskets. If you’re interested they have a rotisserie with organic chickens and stuffed spatchcocks, meat drippings and thick gravy as well as a panini bar, or perhaps you can ask one of the staff in spotless white smocks to shave you some salumi or freshly mince a cut of meat for you to take home and prepare yourself.


Footlong Berkshire Pork sausage roll $12.95

We were merely peckish and thought to give the Berkshire foot-long sausage roll a try. Jen and I sat by Bondi beach to halve the gleaming sesame and poppy seed speckled log; the pork was fresh and intensely meaty with little moments of flaky pastry breaking through each mouthful. I have to admit we initially broke the roll into three but seeing as the third person was running late and it was just too good we shared the third person’s portion and hope she’d never find out what she missed out on.


Sauced up: the money shot

Only the promise of immediate dinner stayed our hand from reaching into our wallets to buy another. Yes it was that good!

The Verdict
A thoughtful Italian upmarket butcher situated next to Bondi beach means a perfect place to stock up your wicker basket and stroll down the beach for a picnic. The staff are well informed and can give you detailed information about where your meat was grown or processed as well as the origins and styles of the products in their salumi bar. Whilst the prices may seem a bit steep this is organic, sustainable meat at its best. Get your 12 inches of heaven right here ladies.

Let me know if you have a ‘best of’ recommendation.

La Marcelleria
t. 9300 6388
a. Shop 14, The Beach House, 178 Campbell Parade Bondi Beach
e. info(at)italianbutcherbondi.com
w. http://www.italianbutcherbondi.com

La Marcelleria on Urbanspoon

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I remember the first time I spotted Caffé Sicilia and it’s not what you think.

I was flicking through a fashion editorial when I spotted the models leaning against the most beautiful black and white marbled bar, laden with fruit and rows of gold rim glasses whilst a couple of wisened chefs bustled in the background. It seemed intoxicatingly Italian with all the classic European stylings you’d expect: gold window lettering, black and white tiles, crisp white linen, marbled table tops, pressed steel ceilings, hanging lights and wooden wall paneling.


Complimentary marinated olives

Even in real life I’m entirely enamored with the fit out and as we sit down in the alfreso area and nibble on the complimentary olives, my eyes kept darting between the locals power walking past and the bakery station & bar area within.

Complimentary bread rolls + Warm 3 milks cheese: warm parcel of “3 milks” cheese dressed with truffle honey & walnuts (Normally $22)

A basket of round dinner rolls appeared, tucked snugly within the folds of a napkin; they were baked on site and surprisingly delightful, a nice change from the sourdough infatuation Sydney restaurants seem to have. The cheese parcel turned out to be one large wheel and whilst it was quite moreish, we struggled to finish.

Crudo of Tuna: yellow fin tuna dressed with lemon segments, Sicilian caper berries
& extra virgin olive oil (Normally $15)

‘Crudo’ is a simple Italian dish of raw fish, oil, salt and citrus, inspired by the fresh seafood caught from the Mediterranean.

Homemade Gnocchi Bug Meat:cooked with fresh Balmain bug meat, cherry tomato &
balanced with a hint of chilli & garlic (Normally $15)

Cathy’s entrée was light and simple so it was with great surprise when I was presented with mine. I had been looking forward to trying the new gnocchi and bug meat dish; I had envisaged it to be quite small and light so I was shocked when presented with a plated mound of red, white and green (how apt). This turned out to be my favourite dish of the night: the bite sized portions of Balmain bug and tumble of pillowy soft gnocchi stirred through with tomato and chilli was comfort on a plate and an entirely satisfying meal in itself.

Sweet & Sour Sicilian Rabbit slow cooked farmed rabbit poached with pine nuts and sultanas in a white wine & vinaigrette sauce (Normally $24)

Whilst the prospect of rabbit was intriguing I found this rustic dish to be too Wintry an affair for Summer dining.

Snapper “Acqua Pazza” with mussels, vongole & king prawns poached in a white wine, cherry tomato & parsley reduction (Normally $27)

Reverse meal size envy struck again when this time I was presented with my Snapper “Acqua Pazza”. The classic dish of fish in broth was presented on a mammoth platter with a generous wreath of shellfish surrounding the Snapper fillet.

Curiously, the menu at Caffe Sicilia stops at second course and despite being full I was lamenting not being able to finish off our meal on a sweet note. I needn’t have worried though, as we were soon presented with two small glasses of strawberry and pistachio Sicilian granita.


Complimentary Sicilian granita + Complimentary take away pastries

The texture of these little gems were more akin to gelati which was probably tailored to suite Sydney-siders’ tastes since Sicilians – the original inventors of granita – would protest that the ice should be much coarser though no one on our table was complaining (too busy scraping the glasses clean).

I saw a few tables gifted small parcels as they left and when we received ours we tore open a corner to peek inside and find two house made pastries awaiting to be devoured the next morning.

As I surely felt my stomach starting to high-five the bottom of my lung our waiter approached once again, this time with a cannoli and a moment later returned with a cheeky smile and an additional surprise: a bottle of home-made orange limoncello.


Ricotta Cannoli

Perhaps rather ironically I underestimated the generosity of the Sicilians and was quite surprised at how liberal the servings turned out to be. In truth I was a little saddened that all the waiters had lost their beautifully tailored white dinner jackets in favour of a more relaxed look, but luckily none had lost that cheeky Italian humour.

The Verdict
CafféSicilia prevails in many ways to become a little slice of the old world planted anew on Crown street. The menu features a lot of traditional dishes as well as classic Sicilian fare, although the kitchen may still be trying to find its Sydney connection. The pastry station here produces some fantastic baked treats so if you’ve ever rushed past, take a moment to sit down for an espresso and ricotta baked doughnut or do as the Sicilians do and have an almond granita to go with your morning brioche.

Food in hand dined as a guest of Caffe Sicilia.

Caffé Sicilia
a. 628 Crown Street Surry Hills
t. 9699 8787
e. info@caffesicilia.com.au
w. http://www.caffesicilia.com.au

Caffe Sicilia on Urbanspoon

Okay so I haven’t really had much time to scratch something together until now and as slightly laughable as it is to have a “coming soon” (more like “already here”) post on the 28th, here it is anyway!

Ever since Sydney Council’s request for food truck submissions last year, I’ve been in a bit of a lather over the impending meals on wheels about to hit Sydney. I’m looking forward to the Sydney version of Adelaide’s Burger Theory serving up some honest Angus beef burgers; Tsuru‘s asian street fare which will feature lots of skewers and most importantly suckling pig served in Chinese steamed buns! There will also be no less than 3 taco trucks as well as a yum cha truck, organic pizza truck and a pastizzi truck too. Vegetarians can also get revved up for Veggie Patch, a truck which will run on vegetable oil with a rooftop garden and serving feel good local sustainable fare including tofu burgers and falafel rolls. The biggest mystery thus far though is ex-Tetsuya sous chef Stuart McGill’s Eat Art Truck which has been tight lipped about what’s on the menu. Watch Sydney Council’s vid for a bit of a food perv.

Anyone who follows some sort of non-1-month-late food blog will have noticed that everyone’s running around in absolute glee over Kitchen By Mike in Rosebery. Who can say no to Michael McEnearney’s (ex head chef of Rockpool) plethora of salads (green figs with blue cheese, cured ham and honey), roasts (saffron & hazelnut roast chicken), sandwiches (pulled pork & mango chutney panini) pizzas and baked treats. Okay I’ll stop.

For fans of the Abercrombie and Carrington please welcome their italian cousin The Forresters which opened last week on the corner of Foveaux and Riley. Alongside the traditional pizza and pasta there is also a daily rotisserie, baked clams and balsamic ribs.

Speaking of Italian, the folks behind table for 20 have opened Buffalo Dining Club; an ode to cheese which gets serious by seriously flying in buffalo mozerella from Italy 3 times a week (eep! A polar bear will probably drown for each cheese flown over but at least it will be heavenly).

If a bunch of islands a little more to the South is your thing then look forward to the comfort of giant veal meatballs, slow cooked lamb rib and grilled octopus. The Apollo has been open for a couple of weeks now and Jonathan Barthelmess’s (ex Manly Pavilion) pigs tail salad is calling my name.

Other honorable mentions include my yet-to-occur visitations to the cute York Lane bar, Assembly bar by the guys from Pocket bar as well as the long awaited for ‘The Roosevelt‘ from the famed Eau di Vie team. Expectations are high but I’ve heard the cocktail showmanship is second to none (beverages served in trophies and hip flasks, flaming concoctions and dry ice will feature – of course).

See you there!

“Two men walked into a bar…”

Normally this would descend into a terrible punchline but in this instance the result is a quirky space atop the Flinders Hotel serving a young experimental menu. Billed as “British colonial style joins an all star food crew”, the all stars here are head chefs Thomas Lim (ex-Tetsuya’s) and Mitch Orr (ex-Sepia and 2010 Young Chef Of The Year) who’ve set up a moody and compact dining room peppered with low hanging lanterns, floral upholstery and dark lacquered tables.

This is my second time here for the Duke Tuesday Tasting menu and I’ve managed to sucker in more soon-to-be converts. The boys have been offering a 6 course degustation for only $60, with dishes often changing weekly, providing the kitchen with an opportunity to experiment with new flavours and techniques.


Snacks: Gougère

We start off with a plethora of snacks. First up are the Gougère; the delicious little puffs of warm cheese and buttery choux pastry disappearing so quickly it takes me a moment to register that they’re all gone.


Snacks: Oyster Mushroom Karage

Next, a long slate of fanned out crispy oyster mushroom karage line up next to a speckled pebble of sauce. We debate what the sauce is, however I believe it has black beans blended into it, to give it a salty albiet nutty aftertaste.


Bread and butter


Snacks: Home made maple cured ham and smoked pastrami + Pimms Carafe: Pimms Cointreau, Plymouth, Sprite, Dry Ginger $35 + Rickey Tickey: Absolut, Peach Liquer, Peach, Watermelon, Lime, Soda $17

Hold up! The snacks still haven’t ended; a bowl of home made bread rolls soon arrive with a hard round of hand churned butter and although carbs is probably one of my favourite food groups it’s exponentially improved with a generous serving of shaved home-cured meats.


The Earl: Silver Tequila, Cointreau, Earl Grey Tea, Guava, Lemon $19

It’s at this moment, table about to topple over from the burgeoning weight of Parisian slates that we receive our cocktails. Cathy’s Rickey Tickey turned out to be a light-hearted tumble of flavours whilst my ‘The Earl’ was a more singular affair with tequila and Earl Grey proving natural companions.

The waitress reappeared to surprise us with an extra snack from the kitchen (this is sadly not due to my awesomeness and more so to do with one of our party being a professional chef) in the form of a crispy pork jowel bun.


With compliments from the kitchen: Butter bread, pork jowl, grilled pineapple, curry mayo, snow pea sprouts

These bite sized little sandwiches were a sunny mouthful of mayo, pineapple, butter and the unmistakable firmness of the marinated pork jowel. I was sincerely glad to discover these have made it onto the permanent menu in the form of a DIY ‘pancake party’.


1st Course – Corn: Corn husk salt, chickweed, grilled baby corn, corn stock, corn puree, corn kernels

Corn. Yes that’s what it said on the menu, the one word description gave nothing away and it was quite delightful to spoon through the bowl, musing over the different textures and forms.


2nd Course – Pearl Onion, Leek and Chicken Skin with jalepenos oil and onion pickle liquor


3rd Course – Mushroom Risotto with rice starch, pine ash, powdered black fungi, toasted rice

The onion and chicken skin proved an interesting play on texture albeit overly salty whilst the mushroom risotto was a hit. A risotto made without rice might seem quite existential but the boys have used rice starch to thicken up the sauce and hold the dish together, letting the beautiful fresh flavours of mushroom take the spotlight.


4th Course – Egg, Lapchong, Red Rice: pickled pea sprouts, crispy lap chong, slow-cooked egg

Michelle’s done her research and lights up when we’re finally served the slow-cooked egg. It’s so soft it seems to exist in a permanent state of near-splitting over the bed of lap chong and red rice.


5th Course – Smoked Beef, Gherkin, Mushroom: hickory-smoked beef blade, button mushroom puree, gherkin, sourdough crumble + With compliments from the kitchen: green beans with garlic and butter

Lastly was the crowd pleaser, a trio of beautifully smoked slices of beef served with a dousing of crunchy sourdough crumble which provided a comforting end.


Pre-dessert – Watermelon, White Chocolate, Pink Peppercorn: watermelon granita, watermelon molasses, shaved white chocolate, pink peppercorn praline

To clean our palettes a refreshing bowl of granita, the layer of molasses tastes quite woody and not heeding Fiona’s advice I ambitiously mix all the elements together before realising that the three elements don’t go together quite so well.


With compliments from the kitchen – Milk milk milk: Milk panna cotta, dulce de leche caramel, meringue, burnt milk crumble

We’re sprung another surprise, an extra dessert exploring the different textural incarnations of milk as the seven of us murmured and scraped the last smears of dulce de leche off the plate.

6th Course – Pinenut, Burnt Choc, Blueberry: liquid lemon yoghurt cake, lemon yoghurt cake, burnt chocolate, pine nut praline, blueberry, chocolate puree

The last course is an elegant little garden, with the burnt chocolate created in reminiscence of the scrapings from the edge of a cake tin. One of our party leaned back and with a wide grin declared this dish a perfect ending to his meal.


With compliments from the kitchen: Doughnuts and banana cream puree with strawberry & liquorice salt

But wait there’s more, urging ourselves to digest with greater haste, we make room for this final mouthful of the softest-doughnut-ever. It turns out that these golden orbs were pipped choux pastry, fried and filled with the fragrant banana cream. This was my perfect end to a playful meal full of surprises, youthful exuberance and yes, quirk. Our group waves goodbye to Thomas Lim and Michael Eggert as we happily stomp down the creaky stairs, sure of ourselves that we had a shared a great gastronomical laugh.


The Duke Tuesday Tasting menu $60 for 6 courses is available Tuesdays (duh) only, please book ahead.

4

The Verdict
In an intense, high pressure industry it’s great to see two young lads leading the way in developing an inventive, witty and evolving menu. Nothing is taken with too much stern seriousness and it’s always a game to delve through the abstractly plated dishes and discover what’s buried beneath. The flip-side to this sense of unburdened creativity is that not all of the dishes are crowd pleasers with some combinations pushing the creative envelope. However if you’re up for something new and want to save a bit of coin, Tuesdays at the Duke is where you’ll score a bit of fun.

Duke Bistro
a. 63 Flinders St Darlinghurst
t. 9332 3180
e. reservations(at)dukebistro.com.au
w. www.dukebistro.com.au
b. blog.dukebistro.com.au

Duke Bistro on Urbanspoon

I still remember my first time at Bodega many years ago: sitting outside during dusk, laughing a bit too loudly, gobbling down golden little empanadas and pop corn riddled desserts with a bottle of crisp Argentinian white. So it’s with a heavy hit of nostalgia that Cathy and I walk through those same glass doors and pause under the familiar gaze of the Bodega bull.

Despite Sydney now being awash with South American fare, Bodega’s unique vibe and loyal clientele has cemented it as a stalwart of the oft fickle Sydney dining scene. Although rockabilly owners Elvis and Sarah have moved onto their new venture, they’ve left Bodega in the very capable hands of their well coiffed crew headed by Nicholas Wong (ex Billy Kwong).


Dark & Stormy: Goslings ‘Black Sea’ rum, spicy ginger & honey syrup, soda and lime $10

We arrive on a Monday night to find the main room already brimming and it takes a short round of musical chairs but we manage to secure a table and ease in with a couple of cocktails. Cathy opted for Bodega’s slightly dressier version of a Dark & Stormy whilst I was intrigued by a simple Argentine apertif.


Gancia & Pomelo: Aromatic wine and house pink grapefruit soda $10


Complimentary bread and Olive oil

I’m stoked to see that my enduring favourite, the “Fish Fingers” is still on the menu and we order it without hesitation.


“Fish Fingers”: sashimi Kingfish on garlic toast with cuttlefish ceviche and mojama $22

I loved the initial surprise of ordering the familiar and instead receiving something utterly unexpected but deliciously satisfying.These bad boys seem to have only gotten better with time: the beautifully thin layers of Kingfish sashimi topped with cuttlefish, sliced onions and a shavings of dried tuna are a riot.

Chipotle pulled pork steamed buns with pickled carrot $6 each

Everyone seems to be in on the sliders action (have you seen those Hungry Jacks ads?!) and I doubt I’m the first one to consider this creation to be slightly inspired by the infamous Momofuku buns. The pulled pork filling is doused in the chipotle sauce and the whole thing disappears in moments and we find ourselves wiping our mouths and wishing we’d ordered another…or four.

Veal Sweetbreads with Prawns, Soft Egg, Multigrains and Chicharrones $34

Never one to turn down the opportunity for some sweetbreads, we firstly pick off the fried pork fat and then stir the grains and sweetbreads through the runny yolk. The sweetbreads used here are taken from the thymus and are denser and more earthy tasting compared to the fluffy texture of the pancreas.

Corn tamale with black beans and avocado $20

Although I was pining after the Morcilla and scallops we thought we should listen to our heads and cap ourselves at 4 tapas. The last order was the corn tamale: a long sausage of corn dough filled with cheese and steamed in in corn husks, it was beautifully fragrant and surprisingly filling once paired with the stewed black beans and moreish home made tortilla chips.


With compliments from the kitchen: home cured bacon, leek, peas, fried leek stems, water cress, squid, squid ink, tomato jelly

Halfway through the corn tamale we admitted defeat and were ready to put down our forks when we were surprised with this little garden of treats! A playful salad tumbling with all manner of ingredients, each mouthful punctuated with bursts of sour, crunch, inkiness and sweetness.


With compliments from the kitchen: Fennel ice cream, fennel jelly, shaved fennel, sponge, puffed corn, poached pear

Finally we hit dessert and we’re well and truly drawing upon all our powers to access our second (dessert) stomach. While I’m not always a fan of fennel, I fell in love with the subtle sweetness and textures of this dessert.


With compliments from the kitchen: Macadamia cookie, chocolate dust, vanilla ice cream

The second offering appeared quite tame: a few pale hills resting upon a jade coloured ceramic bowl but one taste and we urged ourselves to keep going. The cookie shards were studded with chunks of macadamia and the dark chocolate dust offered a burnt bitterness to counter balance the ice cream.


Banana split: flan, salted peanuts, dulce de leche ice cream, banana marshmallow $16

The end is in sight and all that stands before us now is the final dessert: an interpretive version of the banana split. A long finger of banana flan rests in pool of caramel, offset by the salted peanuts and a puff of torched marshmallow, this too somehow manages to disappear before us as we swap jibes about who had the best dessert with the Texans at the table next to us.

It’s almost closing as we finally get up to leave. Fare-welling the waitresses and co-diners I slip out the door whilst Cathy shares a few words with the Kitchen.

I slowly waddle down Commonwealth street, entirely glad that despite the years and my alcohol infused memories, this old flame is still as beautiful and charming as when we first met.

The Verdict
Bodega’s modern Argentine fare packs a punch without feeling restrained by cultural cliches. The food not only reflects the restaurant’s Argentine heritage but also its presence as part of multicultural Sydney. Don’t come with any expectations and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the playful menu and the chance to discover something new.

4

Bodega Tapas Bar
a. 216 Commonwealth St Surry Hills
t. 9212 7766
e. enquiries(at)bodegatapas.com
w. www.bodegatapas.com

Bodega on Urbanspoon

Sydney has really been coming alive; dead alleyways rejuvenated by a burst of speakeasys and the impending glorious arrival of some food truckery to our lean street-food scene (more on that next time). Every now and again though you just want to curl up away from the grit and grind with drink in hand to catch some vitamin D.

Jester Seeds has been around for a while but unlike its many small-bar counterparts this has a large signposted shop-front on a main road. The entrance of the bar is open and welcoming: a jumble of tattered chairs, chipped tables and flowers looking out onto the snarl of King street. Slip down the corridor behind the kitchen though and you’ll find a schizophrenic mix of spaces: we pass through the dark candle lit séance corner and the grande open room out to the intimate courtyard at the back, decked with fake lawn, blankets, umbrellas and milk crates.

We slowly settle down in the corner on some hessian cushions and admire this little patch of adult playground: the tartan blankets and records-cum-coasters are a sweet thought and would be perfect for sprawling on the astro-turf on a chilly evening with wine in hand.


Lemon lime bitters

The menu here’s largely focused on cocktails and small bites with an Asian-Mex bent. Agatha sips on a lemon lime bitters whilst I slowly lap up one of the cocktails off the black board specials.

Sloe ginger fizz: mix of sloe gin and elderflower with a hint of lemongrass (special) $16

The Sloe ginger fizz is pleasantly sweet and floral, finished off with a subtle whiff of lemongrass and a pretty curl of orange rind.

Dos Blockos $8

Although the focus is on cocktails they also have 2 bottled beers available. The waitress recommended I try the Dos Blockos: a Melbournian micro brew that’s a little denser than your average pale lager and comes in a branded paper bag which I found rather amusing.

Kalbi Tacos x2: Kalbi beef, avocado and hot sauce $10

Although the bar is almost empty, it takes quite a while for our tacos to arrive but we waited patiently in anticipation of some grilled soy-marinated beef deliciousness. The twins arrive and are very pretty indeed; with strips of beef propped up on a bright bed of carrot, cabbage and coriander. We take a bite but were disappointed to find the beef was cold and bland without the smokey sweetness you would normally get from a Korean grill marinade and the large portion of salad meant it drowned out any taste of meat anyway.

Broken Potatoes with paprika mayo and sage $6

It takes another while before out potatoes arrive, we’re relieved to find these are hot and crispy but noted that most of them had one side which was quite burnt and verging on being a little bitter from the charring, but by this point we’re hungry so we gladly coat these in the paprika mayo.

Miso Roasted Corn with fluffy Parmesan $6

Last to arrive was the corn, a simple enough affair which I rolled liberally on the bed of finely grated Parmesan.

A few more people arrive, we share a smile and nod before they settle down on the lawn with their drinks. The two of us can’t help but linger for a moment longer and watch as the hills hoist next door spins in the breeze under the fading rays of the Summer sun before picking up our bags and disappearing back onto the blur of King Street.

The Verdict
It’s a lovely worn-in space where you can get a quiet drink to the hum of inner-west suburbia; perfect for those moments when you don’t want to fight the peacocks or pokies for a spot at the bar. Perhaps we’ve been unlucky and visited whilst the kitchen was having a bad day (I’ve seen photos of the same dishes on other sites and they didn’t appear burnt or cold) but I personally would not return for the food. Cocktails and jugs of Sangria though, are a different matter.

Jester Seeds
a. 127 King Street Newtown
t. 9557 7008
e. info(at)jesterseeds.com
w. http://www.jesterseeds.com

Jester Seeds on Urbanspoon

Squinting at the copy on their site, all I could infer from the curt paragraphs were that Reuben Hills opens on the 1st and they do “Public Coffee Cupping”. Drop those three words in a sentence and I’m sure the next person thinks you’re referring to something rather questionable; Wikipedia however steps in and stops my imagination from swooping too close to the gutter by defining a Coffee Cupping as an experience whereby groups can “observe the tastes and aromas of coffee …[via] sniffing and slurping to measure aspects of the coffee’s taste (body, acidity, flavour and aftertaste).”

Unfortunately a last-minute meeting means I have to forgo the PCC but we manage to turn up on an overcast Sunday for a late brunch instead. As I walk past the front, two guys sipping macchiatos were talking about Baxter Inn in an awestruck drawl; inside revealed a long space with fluorescents-as-art, polished concrete floor, graffiti, revealed brick work, wooden school chairs and young men in cloth slip-ons who enjoy protein powder with their caffeine hit. It’s a hipster’s paradise.

I gingerly sit down on a rusty-metal-beam-cum-bench and ask around before a customer points to the counter and advises I get my name onto a waiting list.

It’s not long before the manager signals that I’m able to sit at a table and my two companions drift in. The guys here are serious about their coffee and it seeps through every level of the operation: from roasting their own beans on site to designing an origin inspired menu.


$3.50 Cappuccino

Despite the muggy weather I start off with a coffee whilst Dan opts for a peculiar “chocolate and ginger” milkshake.


Salted Caramel milkshake $6.50

Plonk! A metal cup of frothy goodness arrives but one sip and we realise it’s salted caramel (which isn’t listed on the menu) but Dan seems pleased with the taste and we don’t have the patience to wave down a staff member and opt to keep this delicious orphan cupful instead.


Baleada: Pimento pork, chimol, crispy onions $9

The food items available are a mix of South & North American fare, with a breakfast trifle sitting side by side with a listing of baked beef empanadas. The big seller here it seems are the baleadas: described as a Honduras flour tortilla stuffed with goodies and in this instance the goodies are hunks of pulled pork and salsa which I polish off in a jiffy.


Flat white with a shot of premium espresso $5 + Baked eggs with shaved Jamon, steamed spinach, Ranchero sauce and Schiacciata $13

The menu also lists a changing premium espresso for under $5 which we request to be served with milk as a flat white. The cup arrives and looks deceptively common but revealed a complex yet smooth earthy mouthful, I was shocked that this little shot had it all: brains and a good body.

The pleasant surprises endure as moments later two ceramic bowls arrived, each with a perfectly toasted finger of bread sharing plate space with a couple of quivering baked eggs shuddering under the weight of the Jamon and spinach. We pop the yolks and watches as it glides and pools before mopping it up with the crusty Schiacciata.


Doggs Breakfast: Ice cream ‘sandwich’ with salted caramel $8

No gluttonous foray of ours is complete without a sweet ending and so I urge my companions on with an order of the cheeky ‘Doggs Breakfast’. It took some effort to find a waiter willing to stop and take our order (the first saw my waving hand, raised an eyebrow and kept walking) but soon before us, a square of cake and ice cream stands upright on our prison plate in a luxurious puddle of dense salted caramel.

We ‘oo’ and ‘ah’ over that thick sauce and roll the remaining cake crumbs through the orange slick before licking our spoons clean. As we move to pay and leave we received no smile or pleasantries, disappointed by the coldness of the well dressed crew we shuffle out. At least our stomachs were smiling.

Three out of five

The Verdict
A unique offering of identity rich food and coffee which would satisfy the most picky of caffeine connoisseurs. The coffee is roasted on-site and created with a lot of shiny gadgetry whilst the food is cooked by a graduate of Heston Blumenthal’s kitchen. Service was cool and indifferent although perhaps we caught them all on a bad day; the crowd can be dense with hipsters but it’s worth enduring for a beautiful feed.

Reuben Hills
a. 61 Albion St Surry Hills
t. 9211 5556
w. reubenhills.com.au

Reuben Hills on Urbanspoon