12 August 2009

The Bean Scene: Deluxe

I've been meaning to write about Deluxe ever since the inception of this blog. I mean, I live right around the corner and I'm there nearly every day (addicted to their flat whites and date, orange & vanilla scones), so according to conventional wisdom it would be the first place for me to review.

But it's way harder than it seems. For starters, I've had such a hard time remembering to take in my camera when I pop over for my usual coffee and baked treat. Even when I do, I'm usually alone, and when I'm alone I get stuck with the thoughts in my head, and then I start to worry about silly things like what the other people in the cafe or the baristas I interact with on a daily basis are going to think about me suddenly whipping out a camera and photographing the gorgeous baked goods behind the counter, the eclectic decor, the collections of constantly rotating, reasonably priced artwork for sale...

I know, my mother always told me I shouldn't care what other people think. And when I'm with someone else, or in a bigger space, it's a lot easier to get the camera out and snap away. But in this tiny, intimate space on Kent Terrace - which somehow feels like my tiny, intimate space - I'm suddenly shy, and just order my coffee and bury my nose in the paper and push all blogging intentions aside. A sign of weakness? Maybe.

And then there's the question of what to write about. Imagine having only a few paragraphs to write about your dad, your best friend, your crazy wackjob cousin. Sure, you could describe their appearance, their personality, perhaps even throw in an anecdote or two. But you know there's so much more to them than you could ever possibly write, unless you turn it into a novel or a feature-length film.

It's much the same with my favourite cafe. I'm not going to pretend to be unbiased here: I love Deluxe. But I can't think of the first place to start. In fact, this has taken me so long that I can no longer remember the exact filling of the filo parcel ($6) pictured below (though I think it had pine nuts in it).

But I can tell you that it was good. Pretty much everything Deluxe serves up is good (well, everything that I've tried so far, and I admit I stick to what I know).

Your choice is limited to what's on offer behind the counter - not that that's much of a limitation: an ever-changing array of salads, sandwiches, filo parcels, "savoury balls", pizza slices, as well as a myriad of baked sweets are there for the picking. Most of the savoury food is pretty vegetable-focused. Though you see the occasional salami on sandwiches, vegetarians are spoilt for choice here and they seem to always have some vegan and gluten-free options available.

The main reason I keep coming back, though, is I'm addicted to their coffee. Deluxe uses Havana beans (a fair trade blend) and creates perfect espresso-based coffee. Their flat whites are just the right texture, velvety, yet not too creamy or frothy; and the flavour is spot on - neither watery nor too bitter.

Everything is reasonably priced between about $3.50-$4 for a muffin or slice, to $5.50 for cakes and tarts (like the lemon ricotta tart to the right), to $6-$7.50ish for filos, salads and sandwiches.

The only downsides are its overwhelming popularity - lines are inevitable, and a table can be sometimes hard to come by. Plus, it's such a tiny space that the tables and chairs are understandably tiny too - not necessarily optimal for lounging about. And if you get there late at night (they're usually open till at least 11) the food selection may have diminished somewhat.

Enough of my gushing adoration for this stalwart of Wellington's cafe scene. Go there yourself. Make up your mind. And if you see a lone, shifty-eyed person trying to sneak a photo whilst drinking a flat white and reading the World section of the Dom Post, feel free to say hello.

RATING: 4.5/5

Deluxe Cafe
10 Kent Tce
04 801 5455


Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

I do love Deluxe but dammit if I didn't have awkward coffee twice in a row there. Am forcing myself to go back again though because it's one of those places you can't not love. And the brownies are crazily delicious :D

millie mirepoix said...

Laura - I'm so relieved to hear about your awkward coffee, since it seems that all that comes out when I talk about Deluxe is an endless gushing stream of praise! And, as you might expect, I'm with you on their brownies ;)