Eating at Alford’s Deli is a confusing affair. Enter the café and you might have stumbled into a countryside gift shop: little kitsch figurines snuggle up against chutney jars and greeting cards. Turn left and the next thing you see is a jungle of plants – all for sale in what appears to be the café’s flower shop. Pass this and you finally reach the long deli counter.
The confusion doesn’t stop here. Trying to find a menu turns out to be a game of hide-and-seek: blackboards are scattered around the room, with dishes randomly written on them.
The breakfast menu – leaning on the floor against the drinks fridge – listed a selection of breakfast baps. Two tiny menus of sandwiches hanging above the counter presuppose you have 20/20 vision. Then there are boards with daily specials, such as roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and vegetables (£5.50).
The staff were as uninformative as the place: they couldn’t specify what kind of sandwiches they make (‘anything’), nor what flavours the cupcakes were. We ended up choosing the ‘sandwich of the week’ – listed on a plastic print-out stuck onto the bread shelf – of roast ham, French brie, aubergine and mango chutney on an onion bap (£4.10). The onion bap was sold out, so we chose a seeded bun instead. The soft sandwich was of a generous size, with a decent filling of ripe cheese and roast ham, but we soon realised that they had in fact given us apple chutney. It was a perfectly acceptable sarnie though, and the steady stream of customers in business attire suggests that this place is doing something right.
The airy seating space is pleasantly decorated with wooden, country-style furniture, and the big windows make it a welcoming place for coffee on rainy days.
It seems Alford’s Deli wants to be all things to all people. Maybe someone should have told them that, sometimes, less is more.