The Hub House Diner looks like an eatery straight out of Surry Hils -- except it's actually in Dulwich Hill, and locals couldn't be happier. Booth seating, gas lamp-style lights overhead and a cheery mix of rainbow-painted metal furniture have brought a real buzz to a formerly struggling restaurant site.
Now it doesn't seem to matter when you walk past, but the restaurant is consistently filled with people. There's a bright cheery vibe to the place, with large plate glass windows creating a sense of welcoming openness.
We arrive for an early weekend dinner and can't help but notice the proliferation of kids. Families, groups and even a birthday dinner are dotted with little people, some absentmindedly picking at chips but most of them are staring at iPads, their faces illuminated.
Cold pressed freshly squeezed orange juice with raspberry cloud $6
It's apparent that owners Dean and Daniella Papas have set about to create a family-friendly American-style diner. Head chef Joseph Sergio is behind the menu, littered with American burgers, soft shell tacos and sliders. There's also more substantial fare, including a 300gram grain-fed sirloin ($26.50), Tasmanian ocean trout ($26.50), tuna nicoise salad ($16.50) and a very hefty looking panko chicken schnitzel ($18).
Service is efficient and friendly and it doesn't take long for our drinks to arrive. We're told that a raspberry cloud is a homemade raspberry coulis, but to be honest, its splattered appearance on a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice looks more like a bloody accident. It's not particularly discernible in taste either.
Peanut butter banana smoothie $8
The peanut butter banana smoothie, on the other hand, is much more satisfying. The smoothie is thick and creamy with a good balance of banana and peanut butter, blended with milk, ice cream and a dash of honey. In a refreshing change from many other places, it's not overly sweet either.
Meatball sliders with American Jack and BBQ aioli $15
Meatball sliders are all kinds of sexy with American Jack cheese melting every which way. The meatballs are a good size, juicy and daubed liberally with a rich tomato sauce.
Bucket of Southern fried chicken wings with hot sauce $14
Southern fried chicken wings appear in a bucket as promised, but the batter has an odd sweetness that lingers on the palate. There's plenty of crunch but they remind me more of takeaway fried chicken than buttermilk marinated birds from the deep South.
We are keen on the hot sauce, served in a miniature glass milk bottle, which we slosh recklessly over everything.
Popcorn chicken with Old Bay aioli and slaw $14
Much less of a hit is the popcorn chicken, chewy rubbery chicken bits in a mealy orange batter. It's a bewildering disappointment, especially given the fresh lively coleslaw next to it.
House beef burger with fries $19
The burgers arrive on impressive wooden boards, shaped like a guitar body with one side recessed to hold a serve of fries. We've gone for the top of the line House beef burger, a sweet sesame seed bun sandwiching beef pattie, salad, bacon, egg and American Jack cheese - it's satisfying, if a little sweet, and I wish there'd been more of the promised hickory smoked barbecue sauce.
It's easy to see why the Hub is such a magnet for locals. The concept is fun, there's food for the kids, a car park out back and they offer wine and BYO to suit even the most frazzled parent. We did find it a little noisy but if you're looking for a casual eat in a kid-friendly venue, the Hub House Diner has got you covered.
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The Hub House Diner
410 New Canterbury Road, Dulwich Hill, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9518 1887
Tuesday to Friday 7am til late
Saturday and Sunday 7.30am til late
Closed on Mondays
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3/04/2013 01:56:00 a.m.