review: rubi’s cafe

I rarely include pictures hawked from Flickr, but in this case, the sandwich made me do it.

On the way back from our Berkshire winter escape, we decided to check out Rubiner’s cheese shop in Great Barrington. The resident food guru at my new workplace had recommended it, and we had some extra time for lunch en route to New Haven.


We found a parking spot near the cheery main street, lined with all the shops and novelties we needed to combat road boredom. Rubiner’s blends in with the charm yet stands out from behind the regal columns that mark the building’s past life as a bank. We were greeted by towers and slabs of the one food I’d eaten too much of over the holidays: cheese.


Matthew Rubiner, the shop’s owner, wasn’t in that day.  We were well looked after by Austin, however, who served us with knowledgeable congeniality. We browsed the cheese shop briefly, but on the instruction of our stomachs decided to get lunch at Rubi’s first, the shop’s adjoining cafe.

The Reuben we ordered was far better looking than this photo shows. I should have sent Mark out to the car to grab the camera sooner. I should know better.

rubi's cafe

And because of that sandwich—the bread pressed into a crunchy, yielding crust, the meat falling apart under its blanket of saucy sauerkraut—all I have to offer is the aftermath of our memorable lunch at the rustic cafe.

Rubi’s isn’t your standard sandwich shop. You won’t find much in the way of lettuce, tomatoes, or hummus. There aren’t rows of fillings or long lists of dressings. At Rubi’s, you’ll find bare, simple sandwiches, made perfect by their ingredients: cured meats matched with complimentary cheeses, dressed with things like cornichons, small-batch sauerkraut, or preserved lemons. Their strength is small and satisfying meals, delectable espresso, and rustic baked goods, which we tried in happy succession.


After deconstructing the Reuben and Cuban sandwiches we shared (how such perfect sauerkraut? I’ve never seen a baguette-panini!) we sipped cappuccinos and had a few bites of perfectly-sweet lemon pound cake.

We lingered for a while, watching as families, couples, and solo diners sat down together at the communal wooden table. Back at the main shop, I somehow found room to sample a variety of cheese, each one bearing a helpful label. There were cow and sheep and goat’s milk varieties spanning a full spectrum: dank and musty, fresh and tangy, creamy and crumbly. We took home a slab of Cheshire Cheddar and two domestic chocolate bars.


Our cheese treasure was later devoured by our friends’ dog, who I’ve concluded is my food-loving soul’s doggie doppelganger. She is too cute to stay angry at, and at least we had a few morsels before she nipped it from our grasp!

And of course, there’s more where that cheese came from: Rubiner’s will hopefully be waiting for us on our next Bay State adventure.

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