5 January 2024

New York fairytales come true at Al's Deli & Diner

| Lucy Ridge
The classic looking interior of Al's.

Retro New York diner vibes are the name of the game at Al’s. Photo: Rabble Group.

New York delis and diners have a legendary status in culinary lore and pop culture. Whether it’s Meg Ryan in that iconic scene in the equally iconic Katz’s Deli or the opening of Pulp Fiction, most of us can conjure up a scene. But now Canberra has its very own Al’s Deli & Diner, the final reveal of the new Alinga Street venues from the Rabble Group.

The group has absolutely nailed the fit-out. The space screams ‘classic retro diner’ without resorting to kitsch. From the deep green branding, mustard yellow booths and warm wood panelling, it’s a delightful space. Black and white photos on the wall are actually all family shots from group owner Wes Heincke.

Green and white floor tiles match with the black and white tiles downstairs at sister venue Fun Pony, and also act as an homage to the building’s former occupant, a pancake parlour.

A good looking sandwich with a wall of black and white photos behind.

The deli roll is exactly what you want it to be. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

For this venue, the Rabble Group has enlisted the help of former Teddy Picker’s owner and chef Matt Rowlings to run the kitchen at Al’s and neighbouring retro Italian restaurant Bada Bing.

He is in charge of a compact list of classic deli sandwiches, plus a rotation of specials.

Amy Jamieson, head of PR and events for Rabble Group, explained that they wanted to offer something to workers in the city.

“It’s difficult to find a really great, hearty sandwich in the middle of the city,” she told Region.

“So we wanted to recreate that old-school diner feel with proper deli sandwiches. They’re so filling, you won’t need dinner!”

Woman wearing pink gingham dress sits at bar stool.

Amy Jamieson of Rabble Group says they want the space to be welcoming. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The menu encompasses four fresh sandwiches and four hot sandwiches, as well as an egg and bacon roll or sausage and egg muffin as quick breakfast offerings.

So far, the house-made chicken schnitty sandwich has been very popular, but with the deli surroundings, I simply can’t go past a classic deli roll.

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The sandwich is served on a white sub with three kinds of sliced deli meat – mortadella, prosciutto and hot salami – as well as provolone cheese, house-made relish, lettuce and giardiniera (Italian mixed pickles).

At $22 it’s the most expensive item on the menu, but the multiple meats and delicious flavours are very satisfying. It’s also pretty hefty compared to many other sandwiches around, although I do still manage to eat dinner.

Al's Deli and Diner retro looking sandwich board.

Al’s Deli and Diner is the third venue opened by Rabble Group in their renovation of the Alinga Street building. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

I’d be keen to return for a hot sandwich like the beef and pickle or a classic tuna melt. The menu is designed to be super speedy for grab-and-go convenience while waiting for the bus or walking to work. But if you can nab a space at the bar or in a booth, there are plenty of reasons to linger.

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The baristas serve up Red Brick coffee on the machine, or you can opt for a batch brew with free refills in true diner style.

“The atmosphere is really wholesome and enjoyable,” Amy said.

A stacked chicken sandwich with crispy looking chicken skin.

The chicken sandwich at Al’s. Photo: Rabble Group.

On my way out I spy someone sitting down to a chicken salad sandwich, which comes with the satisfying addition of crispy chicken skin and I find myself fighting the urge to say “I’ll have what she’s having “.

Al’s Deli & Diner is located at 122 Alinga Street. It’s open Monday to Friday from 6:30 am to 2:30 pm.

Follow Al’s Deli & Diner on Instagram.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

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