Smokehouse Deli

Best Part: The Sweet Potato Fries!

I must ask our readers to forgive this extra review which goes slightly off task. On this occasion our mid week lunch was not in the city centre but at the Smoke House Deli on Cell Barnes Lane.

Smokehouse Deli replaced a much loved greengrocer at the start of 2015 but has quickly become a new favourite in our local area. We often stop there after school for a real Italian ice cream and love the welcoming family atmosphere. They sell a variety of high quality Deli goods fresh and store-cupboard and just looking at these is enjoyable enough. Their cakes are particularly beautiful – imaginative doughnuts and rainbow sponges; yum! Needless to say for any establishment started in the last 12 months, the Smokehouse Deli is en trend in its grey colour scheme. It is smart, clean extremely friendly and the purveyor of great food. A breath of fresh air for our neighbourhood and worth a trip out for those living further afield.

On this occasion we decided to try out their lunch time fare and were not disappointed. I went for “The Greek”, roasted vegetables, halloumi and a gorgeous garlic mayonnaise. I wish I had chosen a ciabatta or baguette instead of the granary option as I don’t think it toasted particularly well, but this was my bad choice (well, my husband’s, but let’s not worry about that. Though it was definitely his fault), not their wrongdoing. I couldn’t fault the filing – well balanced flavours and well cooked. We chose a side dish of very fine sweet potato chips with mayonnaise. So good I can still taste them.

My husband went for that day’s special, a slow roasted pork bap with stuffing and apple sauce. His first bite enraptured him, but as he went on he began to look a bit less convinced, and ended it by proclaiming it maybe a little too rich, almost to the point of tasting offaly. He was more than happy with his English Toffee flavour milkshake, though, none of that foreign Scottish toffee muck for him.

It being a sunny day, we took the opportunity to use the outdoor tables and sat and watched the great and good of mid-week Cell Barnes wander past. Due to our interesting demographic mix we did manage to observe a large group of violent sweary men take issue with each other, but as we did not have the children with us and there was no actual fisticuffs we could take it in the spirit of local colour.

For those with families, they have a good children’s sandwich lunch deal, changing facilities and plenty of highchairs.  Probably because the proprietors have their own children they are really clued up. What a relief. However this doesn’t stop it being a trendy and desirable place to go. Important looking people with tablets and phones sit next to young families, the only thing on common being a love of good food and good service.

Well done Smokehouse. May you serve the community for as long as the Greengrocers…I think that is about 49 years to go!

7.8/10

http://www.smokehousedelis.co.uk/

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Jamie’s Deli

BEST PART: The Chilli Jam!

 Our time restrictions were no problem during this weeks lunch. Not only did we enjoy a tasty and good value meal but we also had time for a round of Penguins Top Trumps! Not alas a game that let you pit Lady Chatterley’s Lover against Body in the Library, but it did feature Pingu. Anyway, this is not a Blog about Top Trumps (although…), so let’s talk about the food.

MENU

There was much for the discerning vegetarian to chose from; flan, frittata and an array of sandwiches. A Deli Counter always makes me excited though slightly stressed at the overwhelming options and the pressurised decision period. On this occasion I made the right choice of a yummy crusty granary roll filled with vintage cheddar, green stuff and oh so sweet and spicy chilli jam which left my lips tingling without being aggressive. My husband whose taste buds were impaired this week by a gushing head cold chose the salt beef sandwich, and any taste it did have for him was at least a nice taste. We also got a classy fruit juice and posh pack of crisps for £6 each. Very good value.

INTERIOR

The décor is of the modern industrial style which I like I in spite of it becoming the new norm. It was marred only slightly by the shelves of Recipe Books featuring large images of Jamie Oliver’s face which looked down on us as we ate like a collection of cheeky mockney harpies. The Deli is quite dark though so it wasn’t as disconcerting as it might have been and although it was a little on the empty side  on this occasion I don’t think this was the reason why. We chose to sit on one of the sofas, which was very cosy but did mean that the only practical way to eat your lunch was from your lap. As neither of us had soup, however, this was no hardship. My only criticism of the interior was that a quick trip to the loo proved impossible given that you have to walk from the Deli, through the Jamie’s Italian Restaurant, upstairs and round lots of corners. I did get a little lost on the way out and my  husband had almost forgotten we had been eating together. A single unisex loo just for the Deli would be a good idea, maybe with a Jamie Oliver themed toilet bowl.

SERVICE

As we paid at the start there was none of that annoying waiting for the bill nonsense. The staff were friendly, polite and efficient and did not try to steal my husband’s credit card.

This is the ideal place for a quick, casual good value lunch with friends who favour really good fresh ingredients over frilly presentation.

7/10

http://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/restaurants/st-albans