Rita Caldwell knows a thing or two about sandwiches. She knows how to make a killer barbeque sauce; how to melt cheese to just the right point for a Cuban; and how to get schnitzel to the perfect crispness.
Having owned and sold a sandwich shop on the other side of Surry Hills a couple of years ago, Caldwell and her husband Jon Kennedy decided to get back on the train when the opportunity came up. Partnering with Sean McManus of Neighbourhood by Sean McManus, the trio is revitalising a strip of Rutland Street in Surry Hills by developing three new locations (Neighbourhood being the first). Rutland Street Sandwiches, which opened three weeks ago, is the second. It will be followed by a natural-wine shop, in what was once a ground-floor terrace.
“We’re not the same business as Neighbourhood, but we teamed up on a venture to open three stores,” says Caldwell. “We just wanted to create a little community vibe where people can grab their coffee and a sandwich.”
Currently the chicken schnitzel is a crowd favourite, followed closely by the eggplant katsu sandwich. Both fried to order, the schnitzel and eggplant slices are crisp and moreish. A glass case of toppings includes shaved meats, greens, cheeses and pickled bits and pieces. A coleslaw-like salad features on many of the sandwiches, alongside house-made sauces and smears (such as Caldwell’s barbeque sauce or beetroot pesto), and soup options change every few days.
The tight menu of sandwiches, salads, breakfast options (such as a Bircher bowl or veggie breakfast wrap) and a soup are all under $9. The price-point was a conscious choice for Caldwell, who said she wants Rutland Street Sandwiches to become a local favourite.
“We’re hoping to be a place where people can come a few times a week or even every day, rather than somewhere that you go as a special occasion,” she says.