It’s only a few weeks old, but Miss Ruben’s Canteen is already making a strong case for Melbourne’s best pastrami on traditional rye. Not only because it dries, seasons and steams sides of Cape Grim beef in-house; but it preserves its own pickles and sauerkraut, too.

It’s a leaner sandwich than you’ll get from Katz’s at 3am – whether or not that’s a plus or a minus is up to you. “It’s probably a bit cleaner than what you’d eat in a New York deli, but it tastes just as good and it’s healthier,” owner Amanda Rubèn says.

Her new Ripponlea venture is shamelessly about the readymade – sandwiches on Baker D. Chirico bread to chow down straight away, or stews, soups and slow-roasts to heat up at home.

An Elsternwick native of 12 years and counting, Rubèn says, “I just wanted something a little different to the average cafe. I didn’t want to cook, I just wanted to grab something to eat.” Ex-Stokehouse chef Nick Mahlook and Sam Hocking from Ezard come up with new salads daily (think heirloom beets, walnuts, leaves and tahini yoghurt, or tabouleh, eggplant and pomegranate molasses). They’re spooned out quickly to eat in our take out.

For take-home meals, there are roast Bannockburn chickens, whole slow-cooked lamb shoulders, lasagne in both the meaty and veggie varieties, house-cured salmon, Moroccan fish stews, Italian meatballs and the occasional curry. There’s also chopped liver on Fridays and chicken soup with matzo balls. “We’ll probably keep to the Mediterranean, Jewish-Italian thing,” Rubèn says.

Originally an old banking building, Rubèn has done a wonderful job preserving the art-deco atmosphere, trimming the canteen with Carrera marble, iron railings and brass. “We really wanted to keep the integrity of the building,” she says. “I just didn’t want an industrial fit-out.”

Miss Ruben’s Canteen
76 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea
(03) 9042 5933

Mon to Fri 7.30am–6pm
Sat & Sun 7.30am–4pm