200 Queens Drive, Lyall Bay, Wellington
Opens: 7am Tues–Fri, 8am weekend; closes 3pm week, 4pm weekend
Granola $15; Havana coffee, Libertine tea
Queen Sally’s Diamond Deli is within a stone’s throw from Botanist and Maranui cafés in Lyall Bay. In fact it is an offshoot of the second, created in 2009 following a fire at Maranui so the café could continue trading in some form. The temporary venue became permanent, serving equally good food in a similarly retro-themed environment. In the process, the informality and neighbourliness of a former suburban shop was retained and exploited. And, as the name suggests, a range of deli food is offered. The place is weighted towards vegan and vegetarian food, so the take-home deli foods are sauces, chutneys and jams rather than the more traditional processed meats and cheeses.
The granola was described on the blackboard as granola, and on the pin-up paper menu as muesli. The server himself seemed slightly confused when I asked for granola, and this seemed to spark a series of communication difficulties that extended to exactly when I wanted my coffee (with the granola, not straight away), and how I was paying with a SOS voucher. But a more friendly fellow, who I think was preparing the food, came to the rescue several times and some grumpiness was smoothed over.
I understood the granola to be the same as served at Maranui and the friendly guy explained that yes, it was in essence the same but served differently. And he was right. It makes sense, of course, if you operate two cafés to toast muesli for both places in one batch.
So the basic granola is very similar to what I’ve described in my Maranui review, but without figs this time and a bit less dried fruit. It was heavy on sesame seeds, and included almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, roasted coconut flakes, dried goji berries and buckwheat. It was held together by a binder that I assume was sugar-based yet without the mix tasting excessively sugary at all. It was a fairly crunchy, clumpy product, so the term granola does seem appropriate (despite the fact that I call it muesli in my Maranui review!)
The presentation was certainly different from Maranui. No pottery bowl here, but a rustic enamel plate. And, instead of a medley of fresh and preserved fruit topped with flowers, here things are pared back to a single strip of sliced banana, a very satisfyingly acidic berry compote, and a quite runny and tangy yoghurt.
The coffee was very good, but rather luke warm. Maybe it was made first and then waited for my granola to be prepared, rather than the other way around.
I spied plenty of newspapers to read.
I took my photo of the shop exterior on a cloudy winter day around 9am and there was just one person at a table. But when I ate here about five minutes after opening on a very sunny morning in summer, two of the outdoor tables, and one of the inside ones, were already taken, and people were also hanging about for takeaway coffee. With just six tables in total, it seems you have to be as early as you do at Maranui to get a good spot.
If you like the sort of food and retro theming of Maranui then Queen Sally’s is a good alternative. Crowds can also be a problem though, so get there early or go in winter. Be prepared for less elaborate dishes and a reduced range of food at Queen Sally’s, but consider these the consequences of a more intimate, personal and low-key environment.
Reviewed January 2021.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.