If you’re a confident wee thing and have assumed (quite mistakenly) that you’ve acquired sufficient knowledge of Auckland’s bagel scene, let us introduce you to Al’s Deli - the old-school Canadian diner churning out North American delights of the carb-loaded variety to the fine folk of Queen Street. Founded by Montreal local Aleks Lazic, this guy has combined the best of Canada’s culinary creations into one helluva seductive menu.
We headed down to Al’s one Saturday afternoon for a late lunch where we found the friendliest waiter, possibly ever, who invited us to take a seat and peruse the menu that practically overflows with things you’ve never heard of. Let me quickly take you through a few of them.
Exhibit A: Poutine ($9.50). An indulgent treat loved by all Canadians everywhere, Al’s poutine is made with handcut French fries topped with gravy sauce and homemade cheese curds. It also comes with the option of smoked brisket, and the whole experience is so indulgent I can’t finish the plate. This concerns me at length, and for a moment my Canadian food initiation seems dashed. However, I trudge on.
Exhibit B: Moose Ears ($6). A hot wholemeal flat doughnut topped with whatever you want. I’m quite the classic gal so I opt for cinnamon, sugar and lemon, and I have to stop myself from licking the plate clean.
Exhibit C: Pie Cupcaken ($5.50). I’m not sure if this is a Canadian thing or just an Al’s Deli thing – either way I don’t care, because it’s a stroke of pure genius. What is it? It’s all in the name – a cupcake with a pie stuffed inside. Ours was red velvet with buttercream frosting and a cherry pie snuggled inside – the amount of calories we were hoovering made us feel so wrong but so, so right.
And while it’s not as exotic as the above, I must also mention that Al’s Deli crafts what are possibly my favourite bagels in Auckland. If you’re a first-timer, try The Mount ($10) – its Al’s version of a BLT with the most delicious maple cherry smoked bacon you’ve ever tasted. Trust me.
I’ve become something of a regular visitor to Al’s. It’s a fresh faced and delicious new addition to an otherwise-mediocre part of town and - while we all have our loyalties and I’m sure Mr. Brown has commandeered a few of you – I highly recommend taking this Al for a test drive next time you’re in the area. He’s quite the charmer.