Continental Deli first popped upon my radar in early 2020, when I saw an Instagram photo of a distant acquaintance of mine munching down on one of their signature meatball rolls in a socially distanced park
Flash forward to early 2021, and I finally had the opportunity to give Continental Deli’s food a try. While Continental Deli offers a $65 per person feed me tasting menu, we opted to pick and choose a few choice dishes from the a la carte menu – a vain attempt to add focus and value to our meal, as it ended up being $130 for two anyway.
Continental Deli’s steak tartare with gaufrette potato chips ($26) came widely recommended as a must-have, and so indeed we had. The tartare itself had quite a strong salty, and slightly sour and spicy flavour afforded to it by the addition of capers. The Parmigiano-Reggiano atop the tartare gave it a further level of saltiness, while the gaufrette potato chips (read: waffle-cut crisps) provided the third layer of salt. I found it quite an odd decision to pair the already quite tasty tartare and cheese with a potato crisp whose only flavour was salt, and thought that this salt on salt on salt combination tipped the see-saw too far in the hypertensive direction. Despite this, in my opinion the steak tartare was the first and strongest dish of a pretty middling expensive meal.
The plate of cheese & charcuterie ($39) was up next. No attempt at explaining the dish or its components were made, however our waitress did walk an adjacent table through the selection of cheese included (so why not us?). You will see in this photo the addition of a single gilda, which will be delved into separately. This was my first time eating a charcuterie plate in a restaurant, and I must admit I was at a bit of a loss as to how to approach it. Most of the elements of the cheese and charcuterie plate were very salty, and I found myself ranking them in order of pleasantness, inversely proportional to saltiness. My favourite salumi was LP’s mortadella, which I find makes most dishes from most restaurants great in and of itself. The salami (? literally no one bothered to name any of the components for us) was also alright, but came with its casing which needed to be removed separately. The prosciutto? jamon? who knows, was pretty salty.
Taking a step into cheese land, I enjoyed the unnamed soft cheese over the unnamed hard goaty/sheepy cheese and the other unnamed cheese. Again, the diners on the other table had the distinct pleasure of being told what they were eating, which remained a mystery to us.
After writing this review I contacted the Continental Deli team via Instagram, asking what each of the components were. It’s been three months and I’ve received no reply. How unfriendly. All I can tell you is that the good soft cheese was Berry Charlton’s Berry’s Creek Buffalo Brie from Sunrise Plains East Gippsland.
This salty little morsel is the gilda ($3.50). It consists of a guindilla pepper sandwiched within an olive above a ortiz anchovy on a stick. I ordered one for myself as I’m still trying to teach myself how to enjoy anchovy, and none for my partner who I knew would hate it. Continental Deli’s gilda was, as expected, a salty, slightly spicy stick. I didn’t like it.
Continental Deli’s pasta – mafalda corta, charcuterie xo & egg yolk ($28) – was good but not great. It’s the second best and in a way I guess the first worst XO pasta I’ve had in Newtown recently, with Cafe Paci’s absolutely divine XO gnocci taking the crown. Continental Deli’s spin on XO sauce was made from cured meats rather than the classical scallop, which in my opinion did not lend it enough the requisite umami flavour to be successful. I enjoyed the al dente pasta and the egg yolk I’m sure saved the dish from total disaster. Again, good, not great.
The roasted chicken, togarashi, green beans & tarama sauce ($35) was one of the weakest dishes of a generally quite weak bunch. Props need to be given to the perfectly tender cooked chicken, however points deducted from the taste and flavouring, which again was quite salty. My partner absolutely hated this, but couldn’t figure out why until we discovered the tarama sauce which we had skipped on the initial read of the menu. She just doesn’t really like fishy tastes.
I think Continental Deli’s strengths stand on its use of smallgoods from other specialty vendors, like LP’s Quality Meats. The meal we had was just fine, however taking into account the $130-for-two price tag its score drops to a 3/5. I’d only come back to try their meatball and super deli subs, but not for their bistro offerings.
Continental Deli Newtown
210 Australia St, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8624 3131