Refuel: Mayfield Deli and Eatery * * * * *
Published 14/05/2010 | 05:00
The sun shone every day in April. And on one of those days I saw the blinds go up on the Mayfield Deli & Eatery. It was love at first sight: a converted butcher's shop, original tilework, milk glass globes, the cold room and beautiful old doors. Instead of bolting in and declaring myself, I was overcome by shyness. Reviewing in your own neighbourhood is a tricky business. So I spent a fortnight stealing glimpses of the menu in the window.
Then, on the last day of April, the Home Economist agreed to accompany me for lunch. Being so gastronomically inclined, I shouldn't have been surprised that she knew the owners. Kevin and Kevin, she said their names were. And bless the two of them, it felt as though we had wandered into their front parlour and they couldn't have been more happy to sit us down and feed us.
Mayfield has the kind of homespun wholesomeness that Avoca strives so hard to emulate. I don't normally go in for twee, but on such a small scale as this, it works. In fact, it's utterly charming. Kevin a h-aon works the floor and the coffee machine, while Kevin a dó is stationed behind the deli counter, eager to answer questions about its contents.
The menu is divided into "Sandwiches", "Stews, Plates & Pies" and "Salads". For vegetarians there's a tagine with sweet potato, squash and rice (€8.25) or a goat cheese and rocket pie (€7.25). Red meat lovers, meanwhile, will be drawn to boeuf bourguignon, or lasagne with crusty bread (€7.50). Mayfield is big on substance -- the salads are especially robust-looking: baby spinach is tossed with bacon, green beans and artichoke, poached salmon is served a la Niçoise, and bulgar wheat is mixed with roasted hazelnuts and smokey aubergine. All cost €7.25, or €6.95 if you want to bring it home with you.
The Home Economist was drawn towards the sandwich menu, which kicks off with Dijon roasted ham, with artichoke and gruyere, served on focaccia. But she was all about the specials menu and opted for ginger-marinated chicken breast on tomato bread with beetroot and salad greens, including sweet, ruddy beetroot leaves. With such fresh quality ingredients, meticulously dressed and arranged, it was impossible to fault.
I opted for Hungarian goulash -- a stew that was as substantial as it was bright, with moist chunks of beef that melted on the fork. The smoked paprika was perfectly measured and managed not to overpower the beef's dark, savoury flavour. Served with mashed potato, it was a dish that embraced your appetite and left you feeling warm and fuzzy in its wake.
Mayfield desserts are naughty and voluptuous affairs -- thick layers of cream and globs of oozy chocolate abound. We both went for chocolate. The Home Economist had a brownie, and dolefully conceded it was better than her own. High praise indeed! And my flourless chocolate cake was a decadent delight -- a warm and gooey fondant-like confection. Coffee, too, was excellent.
Mayfield is a little gem -- a standard bearer of how delis should be done and run. Everything about the place is thoughtful and executed with love.