Set in the Antique Centre in Paddington is the Paddington Deli and Épicerie. Besides serving meals, it is also a deli, and you can buy produce to take away. Aside: deli is short for delicatessen (german or french origin), which is a store that sells fine, or gourmet, food. Épicerie is french for grocery, which is more of a general store. Given that it doesn’t sell eggs, flour, or potatoes (your typical grocery items), why isn’t it just called the Paddington Deli, like the New Farm Deli?
The decor is brick walls, dark wood floors, gilded mirrors, and 1920s-style chandeliers. There are french cafe-style chairs against antique-style wooden tables with Victorian tapered legs. For seating, you have al fresco options, or comfortable air conditioning on the inside. There are two areas inside, the first room as you come through the entrance to the store, has the service counter and the glass cabinet of slices, pastries, and salads, with the kitchen at the other end. The next room is just through a doorway and has hams and other deli items for sale. Both have seating for dining in.
We were seated in what was almost a little alcove near the entrance and by the large glass front. That meant plenty of natural light. The downside though, was that the chairs didn’t quite fit neatly into that space. The distance between the legs of the pedestal table wasn’t quite right to be able to pull the chair up and fit your own legs in, and there wasn’t enough space to push the chair back away from the table.
There is a separate lunch menu (so no all-day breakfast), printed on a single sheet of paper, with sections for starters, mains (just termed “lunch”). sides, and dessert. This allows them to easily make changes, depending on ingredients available. There is a separate sheet with drink options.
The iced latte comes with two shots as standard, and was accompanied by a rainbow freckle. It was thought to be nicely strong, without bitterness.
I had a chocolate milkshake with a shot of coffee. It was nicely cold, with a touch of sweetness, but not too much. Both the coffee and the chocolate could be tasted, so it was a good balance of the flavours.
We began with the starter of crispy skinned pork belly with pea puree and apple. The pork belly came to the table still crackling. It had crunchy skin, as promised. The fat layer had a gelatinous texture, and stuck everything together as you chewed. The pea puree was smooth and naturally sweet. The apple slices were thin, evenly cut, and crisp.
The first main we had was the crispy snapper with pan-fried gnocchi, seasonal vegetables, and lime butter. The pan-fried gnocchi were a bit crisp on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside. The snapper was nicely seasoned, savoury with a lemony punch (from the lemon squeezed over it). The skin wasn’t crispy, unfortunately, despite having been advertised as such on the menu, and was just a bit rubbery and tough to cut through. The vegetables still had crunch. The lime butter had probably been melted over them, or what they had been cooked in.
The corn fritters were studded with corn kernels. They were thinner than in other places, and not really crunchy or soft. Pancakes with corn might have been better terminology. I am aware that they have been lauded for being gluten-free, and when served in stack form with smashed avocado between the layers. In this dish, the hollandaise and the runny yolks from the eggs made a sauce that saved it from being too dry while it lasted. When it ran out though, it wasn’t that nice to eat and we wound up leaving the last one behind. (see Little Sista for an example of great fritters.) There was sweetness from the roasted tomato.
We also had a salad on the side, a classic mix of rocket, pear, walnut, and parmesan, with some balsamic over it. It had sweetness, savoriness, and acidity in the right proportions.
We couldn’t go past dessert, of course. The staff recommended the cake of the day, a dairy milk chocolate cake, warmed so that the inside chocolate layer melted. It was served with vanilla ice cream (didn’t really taste of vanilla). The cake was indeed moist and chocolatey, and rather decadent. It was too sweet to be able to get through in its entireity though.
We also decided to try the panna cotta. It was smooth and creamy. There was a layer of vanilla bean seeds across the top. The poached pear was nicely done so that it still had texture. The blueberries were subtly sweet. Of the two desserts, we preferred this one.
The waitstaff were lovely, checking on how we were going with meals, and offering to change our cutlery between entree and main items (we opted not to, as were weren’t that fussed, but it was nice of them to ask). They were prompt and warm in greeting all customers who came to the door or went up to the counter to pay.
The Paddington Deli and Épicerie is a nice, relaxed place to be, a good place for a rest and refuel if you’ve had a day shopping in Paddington. A little bit hit and miss with the food, but more good than bad on balance.
Price point: Starters $8 to $13. Lunch mains $13 (for pies) to $19. Desserts $9.
Setting: 1.5/2 (it was a pretty setting keeping an antique theme, but I’m docking the score for picking appearance over comfort with the seats in the corner.)
Total: 6/8 (this decimal point thing seems to be becoming a thing..)
Address: 153-155 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington
Phone: 07 3367 8819
Website: Paddington Deli and Epicerie