The Deli @ The Square opened on Main Road in Paarl a month ago, in an historic building dating back to 1845, which has been renamed Frater’s Square and has been renovated, with a tenant mix of shops and the Deli. It is a welcome addition to Paarl, not having a Deli, and in that it will be open seven days a week, a rarity in this Boland town.

Frater’s Square has been developed by Gerard and Yvette Frater, and the building was the fruit and farm implement shed of the Hou Moed farm, reported The Month. Primi Piatti has operated from there for a year already, while new tenants are Blanc de Blanc Living, a decor shop all in white, Daffadowndilly, Wild Orchid Boutique, a travel agency, and a few more shops to come.  Andre Smith is the owner of Deli @ The Square, and was in Cape Town to buy provisions on the day I visited. He has no previous experience in owning  a restaurant or deli.

At the entrance to the Deli a red canopy proudly declares what it stands for: ‘The art of flavours’.  The staff wear black with matching red aprons.  Wooden branded tables and chairs are made by Artisan de Barrique.  The interior has raw brick walls, and the upstairs shops look onto the Deli from glass panels.  Tables are set up outside on good weather days, and a small stage has been built in the courtyard, for bands to perform in summer.

The Deli space is large, and shelving houses Pratto Mama Harissa sauce, cherry tomatoes in spicy vinaigrette, honey, Pickled onions, Pickled chillies, capers, anchovies, canned Italian tomatoes, olive oils, peanut oil, olives, soy sauce, Brodies teas, rice sticks, rice vermicelli, and more.  A Cape Herb & Spice stand is filled with ‘freeze dried herbs’, rubs and grinders.  At the deli counter there is a large selection of cold meats, some pre-packed and others available to be sliced. Breads from Backhaus in Brackenfell are delivered daily, and include olive ciabatta, farm loaf with sourdough, Bavarian brown, nutty seed health loaf, white crusty sourdough, 50% rye, macadamia nut and sourdough, and baguettes, costing between R13 –  R19. Cheeses are from Fairview, from Buffalo Mozzarella, and from Truckles. Cupcakes, three cakes available by slice, rusks, biscuits, and sweets are also available.  It is planned to source the cheeses and charcuterie from suppliers closer to Paarl.

Chef Alex Swart came to check on the table, introducing himself as the chef and GM of the restaurant.  He is in charge of the kitchen, but also cuts the Deli meats, which took some time, although it was requested on arrival.  He told me that he has worked as a waiter and a barman at other restaurants, his last employment having been at De Kelder in Paarl. He told me that his menu will evolve, and a blackboard outside advertised specials: chocolate créme brûlée (R30), waterblommetjie bredie (R55), and a 340g beef burger with pepper melt and chips (R65).  He told me that the Deli is planning to stock items not available in the local supermarkets.

Breakfast is served all day, excellent news, and one can order a health breakfast (R28), and various cooked breakfasts, including English, Espresso, scrambled, and omelettes, costing between R25 – R54, as well as French Toast (R35), croissants, and pastries.  I ordered Eggs Benedict, a very generous portion with two eggs, toast, hickory ham, and a delicious and rich golden hollandaise sauce, very good value at R49.  Everything else is good value too, salads costing between R40 – R55; soup or quiche (R35); bangers and mash (R37);  prego roll (R65);  burgers (about R55);  charcuterie, bread and cheese platter (R56); deli sandwiches (about R50); and toasted sandwiches (R18 – R27).  A special kiddies’ menu is also offered.

The liquor licence at the Deli @ The Square is eagerly awaited, not only by Chef Alex, but also by the customers, some of whom I overheard discussing this when I was there on Wednesday.   The waitress Minki who looked after me was charming and proactive, but her colleague less so, not bringing a second glass of water I had requested.  Getting the coppa ham sliced took some time, even though it was requested on arrival.  I was impressed that Chef Alex walked to each table, to connect with his clients.  Being open on Sundays is a huge plus for Paarl, with most restaurants and coffee shops closed on that day.

POSTSCRIPT 8/10: A return visit today was disappointing, in that a simple ham and cheese sandwich became a toasted sandwich (not described on the menu) served with a plateful of chips which was not ordered.  It meant that the order took much longer to get to the table (too long a wait at 20 minutes for what was meant to be a short stop). Chef Alex did come outside, where they have set up tables too, to greet all his clients, some of whom had not even received a menu.  The owner Andre was at the deli, and he shared that they have switched to Deluxe Coffee, to the delight of their customers.

Having been alerted to Volker’s Feinkost in Paarl after writing this blogpost, also open seven days a week, I popped in there too today, and was shocked at the poor service. A take-away slice of Apfelstrudel was accompanied by less than a teaspoonful of cream, in a container that could have taken at least 20 times that amount!  The owner Volker Goetze did not bother to return our call.  His reply to our e-mail was unsatisfactory.

Deli @ The Square, Frater’s Square, 40A Main Road, Paarl.  Tel 082 899 5318 Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/deli.square Monday – Saturday 7h30 – 17h00, Sunday 7h30 – 15h00 (winter), closes at 19h00 in summer.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage