Meandering through the city (Wellington in case you were wondering) is quite a nice way to spend a long weekend Sunday. Peeking in shop windows and people watching, catching snippets of conversations as you pass by a surprising number of people out and about. It could have been less windy and I would have appreciated more blue sky but beggars can’t be choosers. It wasn’t raining so that was a bonus.
I found myself in the Cuba Street quarter (it’s sort of the boho artsy part) when I realised it was lunchtime and I was hungry. Now this was rather fortuitous for if there is one thing you can say about Cuba Street it’s that you are spoilt for choice when it comes to eateries. Literally every second business is of the food provider variety – Irish pubs, boutique cafes, coffee houses, posh restaurants. All tastes are provided for – Mexican, Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Vegetarian, Italian (pasta and pizza – Sals Authentic New York Pizza I’m coming for you). It really is never ending.
This can, of course, make choosing a place to placate your hunger quite difficult if you don’t have any particular taste in mind. I walked up. I walked down. Everywhere looked busy and buzzing. Nothing jumped out at me. Until, waiting to cross the street, I glanced to my right and a name that I had heard in passing over the years caught my eye – Dixon St. Deli. I wandered on down and instantly decided that this was the place. Why? Two reasons. It wasn’t crowded (it got more so after I had been there for a bit) and it had booth type seating. Now I am not sure if anyone else feels this way but I love eateries that have this feature. I have no idea why it appeals to me so much. It just does. Anyway I was sold so I popped on in.
Clean and bright, the menu was to my liking for the mood I was in. Simple but with a decent amount of variety. There was a selection of rather delicious looking cabinet food (the salmon fish cakes were very tempting) but I wanted something not too heavy (that’s why I passed on Sals but I have it tucked away for future reference) so I ordered the grilled chicken salad and a flat white (the second of the day so I must have been feeling a little adventurous). As I was waiting, I got to relax and listen to the talented Mr Bublé which was another plus. I’m not a fan of trying to think over the top of pounding (and often headache inducing) music when eating.
The coffee came quickly and if I’m being honest it was a bit on the small side. There was no size choice but I would have said it was a small when in comparison with others I have had elsewhere. The lovely lady that brought it over actually offered to remake it (which I thought was very nice of her) after some spilled out into the saucer but I wasn’t worried about that and cheerily declined.
When my salad arrived I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I have ordered plenty of the same type of dish on many occasions from various other places and have felt that the chef was too sparing on the chicken and too liberal with the greens. Not so here. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I got lots of good sized, nicely cooked chicken pieces with roast potato chunks (which was a big thumbs up) but felt there could have been more green leaves to go along with it. And possibly less of the dressing over the top of it all but these were all minor quibbles. It tasted delicious and it was just the right amount to make me feel full but not like I needed to undo the top button on my jeans. C’mon … we’ve all been there! The thing that would have made it special was the inclusion of some avocado (which I am quite partial too on any occasion but in salads … mmmmm). Maybe I’ll ask for it next time.
I wasn’t rushed and happily took my time munching away as the place filled up around me. And there were all sorts that came in – a group of young guys just out from some sports practice, an adult family that looked like they were celebrating a birthday or some sort of special occasion and an older chap with long white hair that got his book of obscure poetry out to read. A nice little cross section of Wellington inhabitants I thought.
Time passed and all in all I was happy and content when I left and, to me, that means the experience of eating at a particular spot has been a success. Yes, you can think about cost (a little around $23 for what I got which I was happy to pay), or the service (quick, efficient, pleasant and bright), as well as food quality (excellent and tasty) when rating an eatery, and they all contribute to how you feel afterwards, but for me overall enjoyment is the key. And I enjoyed the Dixon St. Deli. I will most definitely go back to sample some of the other offerings on the menu over the spring and summer months. In fact, I am very much looking forward to doing so.
Dixon St. Deli, 45 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington 6011
Mon – Fri 7.30am to 3.00pm, Saturday 8.30am to 3.00pm, Sunday 9.00am to 3.oopm
(Images: Sarah Kreig)