FOOD REVIEW: We eat the king of all sandwiches at the Yellow Deli, Honiton
PUBLISHED: 11:03 22 July 2019
"It's like eating in the Shire", my colleague said as he gazed in awe at the Yellow Deli's bespoke interior.
He is not wrong - the handmade touches and rustic décor feels like this is a pub discovered in the rolling hills of a far off land, not a venue sat at the far end of Honiton's high street.
From the wooden tables and bench seats to the yellow gingham curtains covering flower-laden windowsills, the eatery oozes quaint charm and sparks curiosity in every corner.
This Yellow Deli has been a long time coming - more than five years in fact.
Formerly the Red Cow pub, the building was snapped up by the Twelve Tribes, a Christian group, in 2014.
The community has run a bakery in Dunkeswell for many years, and its bread has a strong - and delicious - presence on the menu.
Since 2014, the group has painstakingly worked by hand to renovate the Yellow Deli.
Many a time would I find myself peering in the front window of the pub, squinting past the building works to try and clock what the interior would look like.
It needs to be seen to be believed, such is the honest grandeur this venue emits.
Dig a little deeper and you'll find the Yellow Deli is in fact a chain operating internationally.
Eateries have been set up in Australia, Japan and Spain, but Honiton's establishment - the 23rd Yellow Deli to have opened - is the first one in the UK.
Jonathan Stagg, an older member of the community, said every Yellow Deli follows the same menu and quality of service.
He hopes the Honiton eatery would offer the same dining experience as the Australian-based Yellow Deli.
"It is a unique dining experience," he said. "We love meeting people and serving them.
"People come here and feel like can totally unwind and relax - that is what we want."
So how was the food?
Breaking the norm (where better a place to do away with tradition?), we were served up desserts first - the 'Deli' waffle with real maple syrup and blueberry sauce, and sweet potato pound cake with real maple syrup.
I say 'real' because is it the genuine stuff, imported from Canada.
I shudder when I think back to eating a pancake breakfast at a popular pub chain at Gatwick Airport - they came drenched in maple 'flavour' syrup.
You just can't beat the real thing.
The Deli waffle is sizeable and seeps all sorts of sweetness when cutting into it.
Butter, maple syrup and a rich blueberry sauce all mix to create the great taste of America. It is really good.
There is no scrimping either, not one millimetre of the home-cooked waffle is dry, instead coated in either butter or syrup.
The pound cake is just the same, moist and generously lashed with syrup to ramp up the cascade of sweetness that comes from the cake itself.
It is a very honest pud, which is a testament to the kitchen staff that it tastes so good, given its simplicity.
I'm already feeling a touch full when two more dishes come our way - the Yellow Deli's signature sandwich 'Deli Rose' and a pot of chilli with feta and jalapeño cornbread.
The chilli is warm and the cornbread sweet and in parts, a touch salty, thanks to the feta.
Instead of kidney beans, the eatery uses the more traditional Pinto bean - a staple across the United States and northwest Mexico.
It's this touch, and not just in this dish, which adds a certain authenticity to the menu at the Yellow Deli.
The eatery would rather spend more on sourcing in traditional ingredients, which explains why the menu is such a hit.
The star of the show is the Deli Rose sandwich.
Remember in F.R.I.E.N.D.S when Joey jumps across Ross to protect his sandwich from a car backfiring?
I would do exactly the same to ensure every inch of this sandwich is saved.
The Deli Rose comprises an onion bread sub, packed with salt and roast beef, Pepper Jack cheese, fresh tomato, mustard and the Deli's 'special sauce' which includes Louisiana hot sauce.
Instead of being nuked in a microwave, the sandwich is steamed in an innovative contraption used at every Yellow Deli.
The sandwich steamer uses jets of steam to cook the roll and keep every ingredient moist and piping hot.
Served with a pickle and a choice of slaw or ready salted crisps, the Deli Rose is bite after delicious bite.
It almost mirrors the taste of a cheeseburger, but the best cheeseburger you'll ever taste in your life, but better.
Sweet, salty, tangy, meaty, with a dash of heat, we can categorically state with absolute confidence that the Deli Rose is the best sandwich we have ever eaten.
It is simply perfection.
With our heads still swimming in Deli Rose flavours, we tuck into a half cranberry nut salad, boasting super sweet cranberries, honeyed cashews and creamy chunks of Havarti cheese - a semisoft Danish cow's milk cheese.
The house dressing is slightly acidic and vinegary - cutting through the sweetness.
The salad is accompanied by a nutty sourdough and comes topped with butter, a nice earthy accompaniment.
The food keeps on coming. Next we sample the Deli's homemade banana bread.
Having grown up eating banana bread, I find it rather savoury but it's the perfect level of sweetness for my colleague, who finds extra room in his stomach to scarf it down.
That being said, if I was going for sweet at the Deli, I'd already know that the waffle is a sure thing.
The Yellow Deli doesn't serve alcohol, instead offering up a few international imports such as maté from Brazil and American favourite rootbeer.
We tried the mango maté and hibiscus maté cooler, which were both refreshing and tasty.
I could write one thousand more words about the Deli, but for the full picture, check it out. It is open six days a week, but closed on Saturdays.
Just prepare yourself - you'll easily get lost in its charm at lunchtime and find yourself still there in time for dinner.