Tom East meets the owner of Dorchester’s The Deli Kitchen, an all-new destination for Dorset’s finest produce.
Have a spot of lunch at Dorchester’s The Deli Kitchen, and it’s like you’re eating Dorset’s greatest hits. There’s a charcuterie platter laden with treats such as Dorset Walmer salami, spiked with urfa and ancho chillies; air-dried beef from the Aberdeen Angus cattle raised in Winfrith Newburgh, and even beech smoked mutton. You might spot a delicious Dorset Blue Vinney and leek quiche in the deli counter alongside quinoa and buckwheat salads, freshly made with spices from the Dorset Spice Shed. Even the wooden tables are made in Ringwood.
“I wanted to keep everything as local as possible,” owner Liz Meredith tells us. “Because going to all these food markets you realise how good local Dorset produce is and how much tastier it is than mass produced stuff that you can buy in Tesco or wherever.”
Following years in the hospitality business, Liz opened The Deli Kitchen in Brewery Square at the end of August after realising that there was nowhere in the local vicinity selling the sort of fresh, homemade food that she enjoys. Even before her first customers had sampled a crumb of her already-legendary lemon drizzle cake, she had scoured the region looking for the best produce. “I have been around loads of different Dorset producers, I’ve sampled so many different products, and it’s all just lovely,” she enthuses.
With the Deli Kitchen now open, Liz isn’t slowing down the hunt for the finest fresh south-west produce. Her latest discovery is the Dorset Salt Company, a brand-new business which produces its own salt from Portland. “The flavour is just incredible. It’s really intense, it’s got a really strong salt flavour, and it’s nice and crumbly, too – a bit like Maldon sea salt, but a bit wetter and it’s got so much more flavour.”
Fresh, local, healthy, yet packed with flavour – The Deli Kitchen has a clear ethos, and that’s why they already have regular customers who are so enamoured with their salads that they often take them home to eat with a hot meal. The quinoa salad, for example, is crammed with nuts, seeds, fresh tomatoes and lots of different herbs, while there is a vegan platter with homemade humous, salad and local breads. Try it with a local fermented green tea, another fantastic product that’s also really good for your health, something that’s become increasingly more important to Liz over the past few years.
That said, Liz recognises that she has to appeal to a wide audience if she’s to follow her dream of expanding into other towns and food markets. So, those who frequent the local gym can refuel with the homemade energy bars, while Brewery Square’s residents might fancy something more traditional – a bit of chocolate cake, perhaps, or a homemade sausage roll. Then there will be those who just fancy buying one of Ajar Of’s chutneys that they’ve tried in one of the fresh, made-to-order sandwiches. It’s early days, but with regular customers already coming back for more, you wouldn’t be surprised to see The Deli Kitchen at a Dorset food market or festival soon.
Liz picks five of her favourites
Roasted cauliflower and buckwheat salad
“It’s got that superfood element, but because it’s roasted it’s got some beautiful flavours in there.”
Eat-in salad bowl: 7.95 / Takeaway: 4.50
Lemon drizzle cake
“It’s just so lovely – very moist, very tasty, very lemony.”
£1.70 a slice
Cave-aged goat’s cheese
“It’s a hard goat’s cheese, and because it’s cave-aged, it’s got beautiful flavours.”
Currently only available in salads and quiches, or on the cheese platter
Dorset Blue Vinney and Leek
“That’s homemade with our own pastry as well. The quiche sells out every day – it’s so popular.”
Eat in: £4.25 / Takeaway: £3
“I didn’t think they’d sell very well, but they’re gone in half a day.”
Eat in (with caramelised red onion chutney and side salad): £3.25 / Takeaway: £1.75
The Deli Kitchen is in Dorchester’s Brewery Square, on the site of the old Dorchester Brewery.