Thursday, March 6, 2014

Reuben Hills café | Surry Hills

I have small confession. I can’t drink. Give me a chilli or two (with seeds and all), and I can eat that no problem. Give me a glass of wine or a half and I’m gone. I hear my Caucasian buddies ask incredulously: “Are you serious? You really had a hang over from half a glass of wine? What do you do at Christmas parties?!” Clearly, unheard of. And it’s not one of those things where practice makes you better at it. The more alcohol consumed, the more embarrassing the moments get (I think). Bless the Bordeaux French wine. Curse the Asian glow! A hangover is a hangover, whether from a glass or a half or 10 glasses, it’s just mathematics.

Speaking of unconventional, if you are looking for a café that’s just different, then Reuben Hills in Surry Hills is a great place to try. I’ve been a few times for breakfast and brunch, though be warned - the later you go, the greater the chances you won’t get a seat. 

Observe the tenacity & concentration that goes into making a Reuben Hills coffee
Location and Ambience

This rustic terrace conversion into café is hidden enough in Surry Hills, not in a sense that it’s a hole in a wall laneway café but it’s located on a street where there are not a lot of shops around.

If you go by yourself, you’ll get a seat quickly. Go in a group of more than two, you might have to wait awhile unless you go the break of dawn (which on a Saturday means around 8am). It can get crowded on a Saturday morning. As the day progresses, you can hear the hum of people chatting in the background but not enough for it to be disturbing.


For the health conscious, the organic bircher muesli with rockmelon, apple, blueberry and almonds is quite good. The shredded apple and rockmelon combo is refreshing. I probably would have preferred less blueberry jam and more fresh blueberries, but it was tolerable. All in all, it was a nice and light summer breakfast.

Bircher Muesli at Reuben Hills

For the not so health conscious, you can try the ‘really f***ing great fried chicken with chilli in a basket’. I’m serious, that is what it says on Reuben Hill’s menu. Looking back on a Facebook post by a friend on Reuben Hills, it made me smile. The chain of posts went as follows:

Vegetarian friend: Pity I can't do the "really f***ing great fried chicken"!

Me: Had that last time I was there. It was average.

Vegetarian friend: So it was f***king mediocre Jen, that's what you're saying?

Me: F***ing average.

Friend 3: Will you lot stop F***ing swearing! :-)

So even though the fried chicken wasn’t that great, you will feel good from having a good laugh from what you make of the menu!

On the Reuben Hills menu: 'Really F***ing Great Fried Chicken'

The establishment has bizarre coffee that is inspired by coffee buying trips through Central and South America.

I tried the espresso of the day, Ethiopia Yigacheffe Kochere Orange blossom & Jasmine tea. It’s very strong and potent - goes straight to the head.  

If you prefer something cold, go for the ‘Salted Caramel’ milkshake. It tastes like a caramel milkshake with a bit of salt. It’s not bad but the whole milkshake cup was too much for me so I shared it with my breakfast companion (the vegetarian friend noted above).


The interiors of Reuben Hills are interesting because it looks a bit like a chemistry laboratory. The establishment is wedged between the typical Surry Hill terraces. If you go early, it will be comfortable. Go later, and it's not so with the crowds. Coffee is strong and different if you try the espresso of the day. Fried chicken is alright but not 'really f***ing great'. I preferred the bircher muesli. Overall, it's a cute and quirky café to try if you are in Surry Hills.

Where? 61 Albion Street, Surry Hills, 2010
Phone? 02 9211 5556 (no bookings though)


Mon - Sat: 7am to 4pm
Sun: 7:30am - 4pm
Public Holidays: OPEN 

Something different?
You can join their coffee lab for coffee cupping/tasting sessions.
Every Friday at 10am.

Reuben Hills on Urbanspoon

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