With so many twenty-twelve additions to the Surry Hills scene, excitement can easily be turned to skepticism surrounding all the hype. Too much tends to have an ironic buzz kill effect. But curiosity always compels me to visit these places in the end.
Since opening on New Years Day, Reuben Hills has garnered much attention for their coffee, roasted on site, and Cuban-esque specialties, including empanadas, baleadas and dulce de leche laced desserts. My Dad used to live in Chile, which I know isn’t the same as Cuba but they both do empanadas and they are one of his fav foods, so I brought him along to test.
The space has been given the typical industrial treatment, with sandy brick walls, concrete floors, and perpendicular beams. More unique touches like the odd fluorescent light, dark teal tabletop tiles and tea served in china cups elevate the look. I like the pale wooden floorboards used on the ceiling, their golden color creating warmth amongst the grey.
As for the empanadas, they are good but small, maybe better ordered as a shared side rather than a personal meal. Another signature, the pulled pork baleada, was more substantial and morish. It is served open, so if your in a finger food mood you can scoop bites of the flavorful pork filling using torn pieces of tortilla.
Aside from the unusual offerings there are simple classics on offer too, like deliciously fresh avo and lime on rye and fresh, pulpy orange juice with almost cordial like sweetness. Though pretty as a picture, unfortunately the breakfast trifle wasn’t quite right – the rose/orange blossom water in the yoghurt overpowered, giving an odd aftertaste reminiscent of children’s panadol. This would be beautiful if the flavors were toned down with fresh berries and crunchy granola in place of the dampened muesli.
Love a latte on ice, and here they are strong, creamy and petite in size. Machiatto also delivers with an intensely concentrated layer of espresso below thick, foamy milk. I’m no coffee expert but the brew here is definitely good – these two gave me an amazing buzz for the rest of the day, ideal criteria for an on the way to uni stop off in future. Roasting happens on the upper level, which patrons can glimpse through barbed wire lining an oval balcony. The central high ceiling counteracts the café’s narrow-ish width, providing a sky-light spacious feel.
Dulche de leche, that menu-trending condensed milk caramel, dominates the sweet stuff. It’s blended into a lightly salted caramel shake and dolloped besides brioche buns and ice-cream sandwiches. I preferred the chocolate option for brioche, but dulce de leche would also work nicely in the ice-cream for said sandwiches – the chocolate-vanilla tastes a tad supermarket freezer.
Reuben Hills is also trending, hard. A little hipsterville, but that’s just the Hills in general for you. It’s okay though. Raybans don’t bite.