Hot Plate: Hills Bros, Martin Place

Author: Jared Richards
Photography: Pat Nourse

A new café from the Reuben Hills team opens in the CBD.

Surry Hills roasters Reuben Hills have quietly expanded into the heart of the city with Hills Bros, a new café in the foyer of the old Commonwealth Building at 5 Martin Place. Hills Bros is, as the name may suggest, like a younger brother doing his own thing while taking his cues from older siblings Reuben Hills and Paramount Coffee Project.

The vibe, though, is very much more financial-district, and is as apt for business breakfasts as it is lunch breaks. Secluded against a wall in the foyer, it's open but intimate, designed by Alana Cooke. Light-grey stone finishes, timber stools and lamps over each table setting create a muted elegance - banker-chic, if you will.

Fans of the brand will find some of the menu familiar, not least the doorstop "not-Reuben" sandwich from Reuben Hills, with Manchego and horseradish mayo, and Paramount's baked eggs with kale, green salsa and feta. Newer attractions on the menu, which does double-duty across breakfast and lunch, include an open cheese-and-tomato toastie served with a small mountain of dehydrated Vegemite to sprinkle on top.

There's a welcome dash of Asian flavour present, too: a generous bowl of miso-braised pork with crunchy pickled beansprouts, kewpie mayo, bonito flakes, shichimi-spiced corn and seasonal fungi, and the standout brown-rice congee with poached chicken, gingered carrot, and a soft-boiled egg, dressed with sweet bacon jam. Slices of native lime on the side add a citrus twist, and a house-made chilli oil is close to hand.

On the coffee side, Hills Bros keeps it simple, using Reuben Hills' seasonal blends for everything: filter, black or white. In keeping with its older siblings, Bros will soon experiment with offering several roasts each day but for now the OG, like everything else here, goes down pretty smooth.

Hills Bros, 5 Martin Pl, Sydney, NSW; open 7am-4.30pm Mon-Fri

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