Monday, 7 September 2009

The Deli Café, Sheen Road, Richmond, London – one of the best caffs in the world!

Pictured above is my breast of chicken with fresh tomatoes and green pesto, not forgetting a mug of tea and a white chocolate slice – the perfect lunch! The shot at the top is of the Deli Café's exterior looking down the Sheen Road. Just out of shot to the right is the Red Cow, a decent Young's pub.

The Deli Café on the Sheen Road in Richmond is up there with the super caffs. Why? Quite simply it has everything. There are, or rather were, two excellent women working there. They were both very friendly and welcoming and always put themselves out to make you feel at home and give you the best possible service. Today, one has gone but the woman who runs the place remains.
The café is located opposite a Young’s pub called the Red Cow and is one of a row of shops that includes another café, a tobacconist, hairdresser, chemist, dry cleaner and an antique shop, plus others I cannot recall from memory. Further down the Sheen Road, there is another row of shops including a decent bike shop, an off licence and a Chinese restaurant, not forgetting a chiropractor.
The other café I mentioned earlier is virtually next door to the Deli Café, but the reason I stumbled upon the Deli Café was because I didn’t go in the other place, the Nano Café. People have told me that the Nano is quite good and that it has a downstairs eating area; it’s slightly bigger than the Deli Café but, to be honest, for me to go in there now would be tantamount to blasphemy as I’ve got to know the people in the Deli Café and, for some reason, I wouldn’t want them thinking I’d chosen another café over theirs.
And why visit the Nano when the food at the Deli Café is so fantastic? There is a range of baguettes, sandwiches and Panini breads, and even hot meals cooked by ‘the ladies’, as I often refered to them both, and put on as specials. Dishes like homemade lasagne, roast chicken with roasted potatoes and salad and, I have to say, all extremely tasty. There are home-baked cookies, fresh fruit, caramel squares, chocolate bars, pastries, cakes, breakfast items, soft drinks and an espresso machine offering a range of decent hot beverages. This, is the bee’s knees, the dog’s bollocks, the cat’s pyjamas: it’s brilliant.
Whenever I go there I always engage in a friendly chit chat with the ‘Brazilian ladies’, as I call them and then await my order, which they bring over automatically. They now know my order. I don’t even have to say anything. I always have the breast of chicken with pesto and sun-dried tomatoes, a cup of tea (it’s PG Tips, but for some reason it’s one of the best cuppas ever) and a ‘slice’. I put the word ‘slice’ in inverted commas for good reason. Why? Because while I started off with a caramel slice (the usual milk chocolate affair you associate with caffs and teashops) I moved on to a white chocolate version with nuts and the same biscuit base. My baguette has changed a bit too as I’ve substituted the sun-dried tomatoes with real tomatoes.
I love the Deli Café and it was made even more appealing recently when I noticed that Jarvis Cocker was there (apparently there’s a recording studio a short walk away). Jarvis being there was a little spooky as, weeks leading up to spotting him, I had been enjoying the Pulp track and video for Babies. For years I had a bass line in my head but I had no idea where it came from other than it accompanied sketches on a television comedy show. Then I heard a track on the radio and had to know what it was: “It’s Babies by Pulp,” said a work colleague, so I found it on YouTube and haven't stopped listening to it. Fantastic. One of those pieces of music that is so inspiring it almost brings a tear to my eye whenever I hear it.
Imagine, therefore, how strange it was to see the great man himself in the Deli Café ordering a sandwich. I was tempted to go over and shake his hand and tell him how much I liked Babies (and his other work), but somehow that was just too naff for words. It’s not the first time I’ve seen Jarvis Cocker out and about. Perhaps he’s following me around. Once, while in Noble Rot, a restaurant in London, I spied him walking past, his lanky form disappearing into the crowded streets. Cocker is tall, probably 6’4” and nowadays he sports a full beard, giving him a distinguished, university lecturer appearance.
That bass line from Babies has inspired me to take up the bass guitar, it’s that good – although I’ve yet to get around to buying a guitar! If you go on YouTube and key in Babies by Pulp you can scroll down and find a live version from Glastonbury in 1994. You can hear the crowds screaming “Babies!!!!” and Jarvis teasing the audience a little before launching into the track to rapturous applause and cheering. Brilliant.
I’m a regular at the Deli Café. I try and sit by the window where I can watch the world go by while I enjoy my food and read the Sun. There’s nothing better. A takeaway menu is available too, but where’s the fun in that? The Deli Café should be enjoyed there and then, on the premises.

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