Lunch in Cardiff’s own New York Deli: a bagel oozing cream cheese and crammed with salt beef, horseradish sauce, tomato and lettuce (no pickles for me), accompanied by a mug of coffee (£5.10).
Before the bend in the High Street Arcade, you’ll see an outdoor bench, a US flag overhead, and attractive art deco windows. You enter and walk across a rustic wooden floor, past window seating, tables and chairs, modern art (by the owner's son) and a carving of a Native American, and up steps to the counter. There is also a mezzanine upstairs floor; the multilevel arrangement makes this place look bigger than it actually is.
The New York Deli was established in 1990 by New York-born Harriett Davies, who plays a very hands-on role. The place operates a loyalty card scheme to reward its many regulars. Its Take Out service is popular with local shop and office workers (they also deliver, “office catering a speciality”). You will not find friendlier staff in a snack bar in Cardiff.
Not wanting to meddle with the traditional-style American Delicatessen formula that has served them well for 21 years, the New York Deli has declared itself a mobile phone free zone and there’s no Wi-Fi in sight. So, a good choice if you want a break from electronic information overload while you eat. There is a laid-back atmosphere and period music: early Led Zeppelin while I lunched.
The bread choice is bagels (white or cinnamon raisin), sliced wholemeal or light rye, and hoagies (long soft bread rolls “for the very hungry”); it would appear the White House Special hoagie is not for the faint-hearted. Numerous fillings are available, including ham, pastrami, tuna, bacon, smoked salmon cheese (Swiss, cheddar, Brie, provolone, Philadelphia), and a range of salad garnishes. In fact, you can make combinations up to suit your particular taste. The Harriett Special is a bagel with ham, cream cheese, sweet thai chilli sauce and gherkin. Currently, a breakfast bagel option looks particularly good value.
Think Subway, but as a local one-off; it's friendlier and offers a more authentic Deli dining experience.
The New York Deli, 19 High St Arcade, Cardiff. Tel: (029) 2038 8388