Al's Deli has spread Canadian culinary joy through Kingsland, Queens Street and now O'Connell Street. But there's something just a little different about this refurbished branch: they brew fresh Canadian-style craft beer out the back. Now, if you can tell me a better combo than beer, donuts and poutine, I'll smash my keyboard. What was originally the second Al's Deli outpost in the central city sits up the end of Vulcan Lane, and looks typically diner-esque with black and white chequered tiles and retro red seating.
When I visited I noted that the menu was split into salads, sides, grill, burgers, sandwiches and desserts, as well as an entire section for fried chicken. Salad is by far the smallest section, while burgers and desserts are by far the largest, which perhaps shows that Al's priorities are in the right place.
In the spirit of the tempting menu you might as well start with a salted caramel snickers donut ($6), a decadent 'inject your own' masterpiece that oozes with warm caramel. Accompany it with either a hard shake or a freshly brewed ale — my pick is the Nutella Irish cream ($15) with Baileys, Nutella and ice cream, or the Canadian pale ale. The beer brewed onsite won't blow your mind, but it's certainly a decent drop and there's something special about drinking an ale made in house.
For something a little heartier grab The Main ($16 or $18 for a Mega Main). This beast consists of two doughy sourdough buns just heavy enough to tame the mountain of mustard-slathered slow cooked beef brisket between them. The brisket is cured for ten days and smoked slowly, so it's packed with flavour and more tender than your mum's hugs. If you've got room you'd be criminal to miss Al's poutine ($8.50 or $12 for large).
There's also daily lunch deals including bargains on hot wings and ribs that are worth checking out. Plus, if your after breakfast Al does a killer bagel.