REVIEW: Cafe: Plentifull Deli is the kind of place you wish existed in every neighbourhood.
Plentifull Deli is the kind of place you wish existed in every neighbourhood. It occupies a small shopfront in Majoribanks St, just off Courtenay Place, near other Wellington culinary destinations such as The Ambeli and Ortega Fish Shack.
Inside is a counter stocked with delicatessen items like cheese, ham, olives and ready-to-eat food, shelves stacked with a variety of house-made, local and imported grocery items and a freezer full of things like homemade chicken stock and fresh pasta.
Because the kitchen is right behind the counter, if you go in at the right time of day, there are the smells: such as fresh baking, hot smoked salmon and lasagne.
Chef and owner Wendy Hillyer previously co-owned Citron, a long-standing Wellington fine-dining restaurant, with her partner, Rex Morgan. But she always wanted to own a delicatessen, and has long been attracted to the style of cooking you get with delicatessen food: good, simple, homestyle fare. Since opening Plentifull early last year, she has been making this dream a reality, cooking an ever-changing range of seasonal food that's available to eat there or to take home for later.
We visit on a sunny Saturday about lunchtime, and although the wrought-iron table on the footpath is taken, there's room for us at the larger table inside.
After browsing through what's on offer – a couple of salads, the soup of the day (carrot and coriander) and a few savoury options – I opt for a thick wedge of bacon and egg pie ($5.50), while my friend orders a ham, cheese and gherkin baguette ($7.50) from the blackboard.
The bacon and egg pie is simple but delicious. The pastry is superb. It's firm enough to hold everything together, but beautifully flaky and buttery (it's made on site, with real butter), and the pie filling – layers of bacon, egg and a bit of tomato at the bottom – is just right, not overly salty or greasy as bacon and egg pies can sometimes be.
My friend's ham and cheese baguette, though, is the star of the show. It's not at all complicated, but each element is perfectly in place: thick, crusty Arobake bread, savoury ham and cheese, and creamy mayonnaise and tangy mustard, and the satisfying crunch of pickled gherkins makes it irresistible.
We finish with a slice of orange and almond cake ($4). Like the rest of the food we've had, it's simple yet exquisite. Not too sweet, not too rich, it's moist and dense, and is also gluten-free. It is served unadorned, but I imagine it would be even better with a bit of yoghurt.
Added touches make us feel as though we're being properly looked after. We're pleasantly surprised by an adorably miniature biscuit served with our coffee, and we're offered glasses of sparkling water when we sit down to eat.
Gestures like this don't take much extra effort, but they create a warm and welcoming environment.
Plentifull Deli is the kind of place you want to poke your nose into often: there's no set menu and what's on offer changes regularly, although popular staples like the lasagne, pies and chicken salad make regular appearances.
Although it has been open for only about a year, it feels as if it has quickly established itself as a neighbourhood essential, and its convivial, casual atmosphere makes even a first-time visitor feel at home.
While there, we notice a stream of regulars popping in to say hello, grabbing a coffee to go, staying for a bite to eat or, most frequently, picking up some treats to take home.
Before we leave, though we're quite satisfied, I do just that, grabbing a piece of hot smoked salmon I'll use later for dinner.
And there's still much more to try. I know I'll be back.
21 Majoribanks St, Mt Victoria, Wellington
Phone: 04 801 6922
Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-6.30pm, Saturday 9am-4pm.
Our flat whites ($4) are hot and strong, with the right amount of silky froth, and accompanied by a complementary bite-sized biscuit.
Sounds: Light tunes, a low-key clatter of cooking implements.
Mags: A stack of Dish magazines, the Dominion Post, the Mt Victoria community newsletter.
Clientele: Mt Victoria locals, food enthusiasts, dog-walkers (there's a water bowl outside for dogs).
Try this: Lasagne, soup of the day (it was carrot and coriander when we visited), orange and almond cake.
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