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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ruby and Rach, Strattons Hotel, Sydney

Reuben sandwich at Ruby and Rach, Strattons Hotel Sydney

It's easy to get in a lather about the latest Reuben to hit Sydney but what I'm much more excited about is the matzo ball soup.

You'll find it all at the recently established Ruby and Rach at Strattons Hotel, only a few steps from the corner of Liverpool and Castlereagh Streets in the CBD. It would be a stretch to call this a New York-style deli - it's more like an upmarket pub bistro - but mentions of pastrami, challah and matzo are welcome sightings in this city.

Dining room at Ruby and Rach, Strattons Hotel Sydney
Ruby & Rach dining room

Sandwich menu at Ruby and Rach, Strattons Hotel Sydney
Ruby & Rach sandwich menu

Breakfast runs from 9am - 11am, when you can score corned beef hash with eggs, challah French toast and house-smoked lox (smoked salmon) with a schmear (cream cheese) on a bialy (kinda like a bagel bun).

At lunchtime the menu switches to sandwiches. There are ten different kinds, headed up by the classic Reuben.

The Reuben sandwich at Ruby and Rach, Strattons Hotel Sydney
The Reuben $16
Wagyu corned beef, Swiss, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on light rye

Head chef Tony Gibson's CV includes stints at Marque and The Four in Hand but these days he's obsessed with making the perfect sandwich: he corns his own beef, makes sauerkraut from scratch and bakes all the bialys. 

The Reuben uses Australian wagyu beef, subjected to an eight-day process of sous vide cooking and brining that results in soft, juicy slabs of meat. It's not piled as high as the ones you'll find at Katz's Deli but there's a good balance with the sauerkraut. Our only quibble: we're not sure why the bread comes toasted, an unnecessary step that adds a slight greasiness from the melted butter rendered wagyu fat [EDIT: Ruby and Rach tell us it's actually rendered wagyu fat. Whoah]. 

Dirty Bird turkey sandwich at Ruby and Rach, Strattons Hotel Sydney
The Dirty Bird $14
Smoked turkey breast, confit leg, slaw and cranberry ketchup on challah

The Dirty Bird translates to slices of smoked turkey breast and confit leg sandwiched with slaw and cranberry ketchup between two slices of challah. This one's for the sweet tooths - the sweet and fluffy challah bread is made sweeter still with the cranberry ketchup.

You can choose between slaw or potato salad as a side to your sandwich. The potato salad is a tasty rendition.

Rebecca sandwich with matzo ball soup at Ruby and Rach, Strattons Hotel Sydney
Half n half - Rebecca sandwich with matzo ball soup $11

If you're torn between having a sandwich or the matzo ball soup you can order the half n half. Have your soup and eat it too. What you'll get is a smaller sized sandwich of your choice with a modest bowl of matzo ball soup.

The Rebecca smoked portobello mushroom sandwich at Ruby and Rach, Strattons Hotel Sydney
The Rebecca 
Smoked portobello mushroom, Swiss, slaw and Russian dressing on light rye

I'm tempted by the wagyu pastrami and the pickled veal tongue but end up going with the Rebecca, the only vegetarian sandwich on the menu. Gibson brines the portobello mushroom in much the same way as the beef - but for a shorter period - and then smokes it using cherrywood and maple for about an hour.

There's a faint sourness to the mushroom but the smoking really does come through, and the 'meatiness' of the portobello holds up well against the slaw, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese.

Matzo ball soup at Ruby and Rach, Strattons Hotel Sydney
Jewish penicillin
Chicken broth, shredded chicken, matzo ball and vegetables

The matzo ball soup is the highlight of the day though. You can smell the chickeny goodness as soon as it hits the table.

Matzo ball at Ruby and Rach, Strattons Hotel Sydney
Inside the matzo ball

The first spoonful is a revelation, rich with real chicken stock and chicken fat in the most hearty, homemade and comforting way possible. And then there's the matzo ball, one big fat dumpling made from matzo meal, eggs, water and fat. The matzo ball is soft and spongy, having soaked up much of the soup, and the abundance of vegetables is simultaneously nourishing and energising. No wonder they call this Jewish penicillin.

Poutine chips with cheese curds at Ruby and Rach, Strattons Hotel Sydney
Poutine classic $12
Hand cut fries, roast chicken gravy and cheese curds

How does poutine fit into a Jewish menu? Who cares. We need more of this amazing Quebec dish around these parts. There's a thinner gravy than I'd prefer but the cheese curds are satisfyingly squeaky, heaped over a bowl of hand cut fries.

On the drinks side you can skip the usual bar offerings and go for the Olive A Twist cordials ($5), made with Mudgee-sourced produce and rain water (?!) and dispensed from giant Mason jar drink dispensers. They also do bottomless cups of Single Origin filter coffee. Black only.

All that's missing here is a chocolate babka for dessert. No dessert? Oy vey!

Dining room at Ruby and Rach, Strattons Hotel Sydney

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Ruby & Rach on Urbanspoon

Ruby and Rach
Strattons Hotel, 249 Castlereagh Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (0)405 331 920

Opening hours:
Monday to Wednesday 9am - 7pm
Thursday to Friday 9am - 9pm

Breakfast 9am - 11am
Lunch 11am - 4pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Katz's Deli, New York
24 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/27/2013 10:28:00 pm


  • At 11/27/2013 10:51 pm, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    Their reuben looks like it means serious biz! So close to work. Gotta make a trip soon.

  • At 11/27/2013 11:31 pm, Blogger Sherrie @ Crystal Noir said…

    That's an intense looking Reuben sandwich! Gotta love reuben sandwiches :D

  • At 11/28/2013 3:42 am, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    The sandwiches here look pretty good but a Dirty Bird? Perhaps she needs to be taken with a dose of that Jewish penicillin.

  • At 11/28/2013 7:55 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    I'm of a fan of a toasted Rueben either, but it still looks good. I'm surprised to see poutine on the menu, and yes, that gravy is way too watery!

  • At 11/28/2013 9:05 am, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    the reuben is one of the best i've so far had in sydney. Ramen Raff, their reuben is definitely the biz. might try the poutine this friday at the choice awards night.

  • At 11/28/2013 9:13 am, Blogger Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    I feel so confused - it looks like such a fancy space but then it serves up sandwiches like the reuben and poutine? that's ok though because it's not a bad thing!

  • At 11/28/2013 11:29 am, Blogger Felicia @ Next Stop: Food said…

    that reuben looks so darn good!! mm~~

  • At 11/28/2013 11:40 am, Anonymous Riley said…

    The sandwiches sound amazing. I'll work my way through all of them except the vego one. Poutine!! Hells yeah!! :D

  • At 11/28/2013 1:11 pm, Blogger IanL said…

    Interested to try this Reuben, see how it stacks up to Reuben & Moore which IMO is the best around.

  • At 11/28/2013 6:42 pm, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    Mmm, yum! I was actually thinking of going to Ruby & Rach tomorrow night for that Awards night...might have to go now?

  • At 11/28/2013 10:55 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…


  • At 11/29/2013 12:24 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So going to try this place out next time I go out to the city. Never had a reuben sandwich before... a wagyu one would be a good start. Looks delish

  • At 11/29/2013 4:48 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Well, of course. The best rain water has always come from Mudgee.

  • At 11/29/2013 9:09 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    The poutine sounds like the go - just imagining that with a Reuben at the moment - yum.

  • At 11/29/2013 9:44 am, Blogger Mel said…

    I freaking LOVE matzo ball soup! Brings back childhood memories...

  • At 11/29/2013 11:17 am, Anonymous The Food Sage said…

    You had me at Reuben - that photo is amazing. Wondering if i have time to dodge into the city and get one. Great write-up.

  • At 11/29/2013 11:22 am, Anonymous Charlene said…

    oh! another place with poutine! I have to try this!

  • At 11/29/2013 2:54 pm, Blogger Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy said…

    I want to go an have a steaming bowl of that soup! I first tried it at Katz's last year and have thought about it ever since.. while i am there, it would be simply rude not to get the poutine too!

  • At 11/29/2013 4:12 pm, Blogger hazchem said…

    I really love Ruby & Rach! Such delicious sandwiches. Other things to note - poutine also comes as a 'pastrami poutine' which adds crispy pastrami to the mix, turning poutine up to 11. Dill pickles & the pickle plate are also good. Lastly, there's a good selection of craft beer available from the bar downstairs.

    Great write up as always Helen!

  • At 11/30/2013 12:15 am, Anonymous Chris @ MAB vs Food said…

    Wow, 8 days to make the beef for the Reuben!? I love Reuben sandwiches. This one looks like one I need to try

  • At 11/30/2013 12:38 pm, Anonymous liz @ strayed table said…

    You always make me hungry. I am sure the Ruben will make it to Queensland some time soon. I am with you I would definitely order the half half, I love the look of that soup. Chicken broth is penicillin.

  • At 12/01/2013 8:44 pm, Anonymous Daisy@nevertoosweet said…

    Ohhhh ruben sandwich! Yummmm but it's so hard to find in Melbbbbbbbb! And I've never had a matzo ball before either hehe

  • At 12/06/2013 4:22 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'll have a Rebecca & a bowl of those delish chips, thanks. #yum

  • At 12/25/2013 10:02 pm, Anonymous sara | Belly Rumbles said…

    Half and half is a winter fave lunch order for me. Only because I love soup, but really like sandwiches too. Does not have the same appeal in Summer, the sambo wins out ;p


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