Weekday cafe The Deli Counter is the place to get a healthy, tasty lunch in the legal and financial centre of the CBD.
The Deli Counter sets itself apart from the pre-packed sandwiches that abound in that part of town. The kitchen specialises in the owners’ recipes of Israeli food with some general Mediterranean influences and everything is made fresh daily, on site. You can even draw up a chair and watch the kitchen preparations while you wait for your meal or climb upstairs to the view of Queen Street’s treeline.
For lunch I ordered from..um..the deli counter…the ‘seenya’ a traditional Israeli moussaka, plus a selection of the overwhelming choice of fresh salads on display ($16.50).
The moussaka was layers of minced beef and spiced eggplant and I particularly liked the substitution of the nutty tahini for the traditional bechamel. I’m not even sure what salads were on my plate as I just asked for a bit of everything! It was a roasted veg and grain melange.
Their wholemeal pitas are famous and so I decide to try a vegan version with charred cauliflower, cucumber, parsley and pickles, slathered with tahini ($11). The pocket was huge and so stuffed to the gills that after a time the package became unwieldy and soggy to eat and hold. I hate to think what all that escaping tahini would be doing to the pinstriped suits! About half the amount of sauce and I think the balance would be better. Just be warned that it’s also incredibly filling.
The service was friendly and when the lunch time rush had died a bit the owners were keen to find out what I thought of my lunch (I told them about the disintegrating pita disaster). They then proceeded to scoop up the remainder of their salads into a takeaway container for my kids! That’s hospitable for you.
The Deli Counter is a charming, colourful eatery in a somewhat drab part of Queen Street which serves nourishing, well-priced food. Good for your body, good for your brain, good for your wallet.