29 Jan The Deli Counter, Melbourne CBD
The Deli Counter came into being mid-last year, aiming to bring us uncomplicated yet satisfying meal options in the CBD. Head chef Eitan Doron prepares mainly Mediterranean-influenced food in the open kitchen, and the menu changes according to what can be procured at the markets, ensuring freshness, seasonality and creativity.
The space has a stripped back, industrial look with exposed brick, hanging lighting wooden crates transformed into counters, and an impressive window front. There’s both table and bench seating; the ground floor is great for people watching and the upper level affords a more private and intimate dining area. The first floor also allows for small functions.
Originally operating through a more traditional model, they’ve now adopted a simpler approach. Coming to the counter, customers pick a protein and select three sides to go with it. Also available are pitas, salads and sweets.
We were offered a selection of dishes to demonstrate the sort of food diners might find. Starting off our feast were the pita pockets, generously filled to the brim with pulled pork, coleslaw, pickles and a rather tasty sauce. Oozing with juices it was a little messy to eat, but completely worth the soaked napkins.
A bowl of fluffy pita was served alongside hummus, which had egg mixed through. The hummus was full flavoured and so smooth – Morri described it as ‘velvety’ and he was exactly right. It was one of the nicest versions of hummus I’ve had so far.
I love cauliflower and here it had been prepared to bring out its nuttiness, which was complemented by the tahini. There was a light and healthy freekeh salad with tomato and dill to enjoy too.
Also sampled were the Israeli eggplant moussaka topped with tahini, and a beautiful lamb dish. The lamb had been slow-cooked with tarragon, lemon and coriander until tender and it was reminiscent of home-cooked comfort food.
We had a very pleasurable experience at The Deli Counter and it definitely stood out as one of the more memorable lunches I’ve had in the city. Eitan was very humble about his skills, putting it all down to hard work, but there is definitely talent here. It’s simple food done well, and definitely worth checking out.
Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at The Deli Counter as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.