Time Out says
Sth Central’s ‘Ribwich’ is the stuff sandwich dreams are made of
Sth Central’s Ribwich is the lunch you start fantasising about at 10.17am and would kill for by noon. A generous ciabatta roll is drizzled with olive oil and a dab of mild horseradish aioli. Piled on top is more glistening, shredded beef rib meat than you would dare hope for. Succulent and tender, it is every synonym for melt-in-your-mouth. Cos lettuce lightens the glorious load, and the package also brings shoe-string fries and a pickle. The workaday fries won’t linger in your memory; the Ribwich will.
Now that we’ve got that out of our system, a little more about the establishment.
Sth Central is the first restaurant from the Tommy Collins team (of Hawk and Hunter, The Little Ox and Schmucks Bagels café renown). Set beneath an apartment block development and just opposite South Yarra station, it’s a good-looking space. The masculine starkness of the charcoal walls and black banquette seating is softened by curvaceous, green-tinted glassware, ferns that dangle from shelves and flowers snuggling prettily in chemistry beakers. It’s a sophisticated space where you can imagine finding refuge in a corner booth after a day of office warfare and feeling all the better for it.
We visited for lunch, although breakfast and dinner are also served (we definitely want to come back for the breakfast gnocchi). The short, modern Australian menu is divided into smaller share plates, perhaps lamb ribs or smoked mussels (at approximately $16); sandwiches and sharp salads; and more substantial main plates, say, pork belly or a barramundi dish that head more towards $35.
Despite the glory that is the Ribwich, Sth Central is no one-trick pony. Their deft calamari salad is both elegant and satisfying. Lying on a bed of rocket, slithers of snow peas and peas, the roasted squid rings pack good charry flavour – courtesy of the Inka oven – and nice bite and bounce. Subtle chimichurri dressing adds brightness, while pine nuts and house-made croutons deliver top-quality crunch.
The fried cauliflower makes a fine side. While not quite the fat battered beauties we imagined, its bronzed florets are dressed with a nutty green tahini sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
The Prana chai tea, brewed in a mini saucepan, is sweet and creamy, and the house blend of coffee is smooth and medium-bodied.
Service is very personable – there’s a genuine enquiry about our day and a quip about the glamorous bronze cutlery – without any sacrifice in efficiency. The Friday we were there was quiet. Given the quality of the food, this is either a one off or a suggestion that Sth Central is a secret that more people need to know about. It’s a fine place for a glam breakfast, a smart work lunch or a girls’ dinner. Lucky the apartment dwellers on high who can make Sth Central their local.