Theo's Deli is a sandwich shop in Surry Hills by the team from Tokki and Marble. The sandwich menu is neat and to the point; there are seven sandwiches for every mood (or day of the week). There's the classic Reuben or egg sandwich as well as one controversial addition that has the sandwich world abuzz.
Theo's Deli is by David Bae of Bae Dining the owner of Tokki and Marble who was looking for a simpler offering compared to his restaurants. He was nostalgic for Uncle Theo's local corner milkbar where he would sneak off as a kid and grab a simple steak sandwich. He tapped Executive Chef Kevin Jeon (from Rosetta, Longrain and Ezra) to come up with a shortlist of sandwiches using his fine dining experience as a backbone to the menu.
I ordered the old skool way by phoning my order in and Mr NQN picks the sandwiches up from the shop on Foveaux Street in Surry Hills. The sandwiches all come pre-sliced in half and still warm.
I'll start with what they call their signature sandwich and is the most controversial one. The H.E.C. which is diced ham hock, tiny matchstick potato fries, fried egg, malt vinegar mayo and pickle relish and was said to be created from wanting to create the perfect hangover cure. And that brings us to the controversy as it is very similar to the Ham Eggs 'N' Chips sandwich from Max's Sandwich Shop in London that also has ham hock, shoestring fries, egg and piccalilli pickles. The difference is the bread used as they use a toasted panini roll at Theo's. This is intensely rich, the sort of sandwich you gobble down in cold weather. As for the Max connection Gabriel Barra, creative director of Bae Dining says, "Actually that's kind of an inside joke with our staff at this point, genuinely we have no idea who Max was whilst we were making sandwiches. It wasn't until he sent a bunch of his followers to attack our account on social media that we found out who he is...It was just a weird matter of coincidence," although the sandwich will likely be rotated out of the menu in a month or so.
I am a sucker for an egg sandwich and the Egg Boy has soft white bread (crusts on) Kewpie mayonnaise, horseradish, chunky cut eggs, cucumber and cos lettuce. It's simple but so good and the cucumber and lettuce give the super soft sandwich a nice light crunch. It's actually the sandwich I enjoy the most out of the three.
The Reuben is a classic and they haven't done much to it. It's thinly sliced corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and Russian dressing on toasted light rye sourdough. The key difference is the Theo sauce or their version of Russian dressing which is a mix of Russian dressing and In-N-Out burger sauce. What I'd love and OK hear me out - a separate pot of Russian dressing to just every so lightly dip the sandwich in. I know people are super passionate about their Reubens but like Liz Lemon I love sandwich sauce.
So tell me Dear Reader, what do you think of the HEC and Ham, Eggs and Chips controversy? And would you like sandwich dipping sauce?
This meal was independently paid for.
Shop 1/1-15 Foveaux St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Open Monday to Friday 8am-3pm
Phone: (02) 8957 5638