Hec­tor’s Deli

Serv­ing pimped-up sand­wiches in a retro deli in Rich­mond will make you very pop­u­lar with lo­cals

Time Out (Melbourne) - - FOOD & DRINK - Vic­to­ria Khround­ina 92 Buck­ing­ham St, Rich­mond 3121. www.hec­tors­deli.com.au. Wed-fri 7.30am-4pm (or un­til sold out); Sat, Sun 8am-3pm (or un­til sold out).

The co-own­ers worked at Stokehouse and Attica

WHEN THE 18TH- CEN­TURY English aris­to­crat John Mon­tagu, aka the Fourth Earl of Sand­wich, started eat­ing meat between bread, he could never have en­vi­sioned how far the hum­ble sand­wich would come. Now we have Hec­tor’s Deli, a café in Rich­mond ded­i­cated to sand­wiches – clas­sic com­bi­na­tions made with high class in­gre­di­ents and ex­tra flour­ishes. The menu of­fers six op­tions (three avail­able from 7.30am and three from 11am) and that’s about it. No eggs. No fancy plat­ing. No cut­lery. But con­sid­er­ing co-own­ers Ja­son Bar­ratt and Dom Wil­ton have worked at Mel­bourne din­ing in­sti­tu­tions like Stokehouse and Attica, you should buckle up for a sand­wich shop with some se­ri­ous ca­chet.

The café is housed in a for­mer milk bar on a quiet sub­ur­ban street, away from the hus­tle of Rich­mond’s main strips. But still the tiny space hums with throngs of lo­cals. Bar­ratt and Wil­ton are be­hind the white-tiled kitchen-cum-reg­is­ter dish­ing out one sarnie af­ter an­other, while warmly greet­ing cus­tomers, many by name. Cou­ples with dogs wait for barista Zac Kelly’s creamy, strong flat whites made from Axil Roast­ers cof­fee beans and hun­gry kids are pla­cated with flaky crois­sants from Rustica (also their bread sup­plier). It’s like the Cheers of sand­wich shops. If you’re vis­it­ing dur­ing the early shift, or­der the pas­trami – a pimped-up ver­sion of the clas­sic Reuben. Wagyu pas­trami from Meat­smith (brisket coated with a se­cret rub, hot smoked and slowly cooked for 15 hours) is wedged between light rye sour­dough with house-made rel­ish, sauer­kraut and pick­les. It’s then slathered with but­ter and grilled, and the com­bi­na­tion of salty, gooey, sharp and crisp will knock your socks off. A boiled-and-baked 5 & Dime bagel comes gen­er­ously heaped with coldsmoked trout from Pe­tuna (pur­vey­ors of wild­caught, sus­tain­able seafood), silky cream cheese with a drop of beet­root juice – the earthy flavour works magic with the salti­ness of the fish – and rings of crunchy red onion. Traces of sal­mon roe kick it up a notch on the fancy sanga yard­stick.

For lunch, their ver­sion of the Italy-via-newYork parma sub would make nonna proud, and it’s all-veg! A pil­lowy cia­batta is packed with crumbed, deep-fried egg­plant, pick­led wild mush­room adding an aro­matic vinagery sharp­ness, car­rot and a hearty tomato sauce – bring your own bib. And you bet there’s a schnitzel (bonus points for us­ing freerange chicken that’s soaked in but­ter­milk overnight) filed between let­tuce with a se­cret dress­ing on a cia­batta spread with Kew­pie mayo. Keen for dessert? A brioche bun filled with Nutella and vanilla ice cream is a ma­jor up­grade on Nutella toast.

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