Frank's Deli review

Fuelled by a love of family-owned New York delis, this new cafe is pulling in the crowds.
Fuelled by a love of family-owned New York delis, this new cafe is pulling in the crowds. Photo: Janie Barrett

279 Bronte Rd Waverley, NSW 2024

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Opening hours Mon to Fri, 6.30am-3pm, Sat-Sun, 7.30am-3pm
Prices Cheap (mains under $20)

High up on the tall street windows of Frank's Deli are the words "Home cooking". Over the door, also painted in gold, maroon-edged cursive script, is, "Welcome". They are, succinctly, the best words to describe this friendly, food-focussed two-month old deli in an old butcher's shop on Waverley's bustling main street.

Frank's Deli is owned and run by Sammy Jakubiak, winner of TV's My Kitchen Rules with her sister Bella in 2011, her brother Alek Jakubiak and Sammy's partner Ben Kelly. The trio found the site in July. Two months later, still in lockdown, Frank's Deli, named after Kelly's grandfather, opened and people began queuing down the street to get their brisket, toasties, coffee and soup.

Fuelled by a love of family-owned New York delis and the food traditions of the Jakubiak family, who hail from Warsaw, the venture's menu, which centres on sandwiches, soup and bone broth, pulled in the crowds, but so did the friendliness. 

The Polish ploughman's plate includes ham, Kielbasa or house-cured salmon, pickle, egg, relish, vegetable salad and tomato.
The Polish ploughman's plate includes ham, Kielbasa or house-cured salmon, pickle, egg, relish, vegetable salad and tomato. Photo: Janie Barrett

On this sunny morning, Alek, a coffee aficionado who began his career with Little Marionette and most recently co-managed Sounds Sydney at the University of Sydney's Chau Chak Wing Museum, is ferrying flat whites and takeaway sandwiches with cheery greetings to customers' poodles on the footpath.

Things have moved so speedily for the Frank's Deli team their website, which features a black-and-white photograph of the actual Frank enjoying a shirtless cigarette, still says, "Opening soon".

With a focus on sandwiches, the menu is takeaway although there are plans in the pipeline for footpath dining. For now, Sammy suggests walking down the pedestrian-friendly Judges Lane next door towards Queen's Park, five minutes away to have a picnic. 

Frank's Reuben is one of several sandwich options on the menu.
Frank's Reuben is one of several sandwich options on the menu. Photo: Janie Barrett

This I dutifully do, sitting on a park bench to hoe into the deli's most asked-for sandwich, Frank's Reuben, a crisply toasted wonder of brisket pastrami, from LP's Quality Meats, pickles and cheddar, a glistening medley of melted dairy and spiced meat.

Two glossy black crows strut over immediately, eyeing every tender meat morsel beadily. On sighting the Breakfast Sammy, they hustle more desperately for its plumply golden milk bun, a fat fold of cheese and egg, more brisket pastrami (Polish speck, from Narel Smallgoods, or mushrooms also available) and creamy lashings of Frank's sauce, Sammy's semi-secret, Polish-style dressing featuring a chutzpah of paprika, cayenne and horseradish.

What my crow friends would make of the deli's Polish ploughman's plate doesn't bear thinking about. A dish influenced by the Jakubiak family's get-togethers, featuring sourdough or rye toast, the choice of Polish ham, Kielbasa (smoked Polish sausage) or house-cured salmon (hot-smoked by Sammy and Alek's father), served with pickle, egg, beet relish, vegetable salad and tomato, it's a rare and luscious lunchtime offering.

Stock up on bakery and pantry items while you're in the queue.
Stock up on bakery and pantry items while you're in the queue. Photo: Janie Barrett

A slab of lustrous Brunswick Bun is unwrapped. Bird-wise, it's a calamity. This cinnamony focaccia-like treat, daubed in a gleaming gooey topping made with brown sugar, golden syrup and butter, is eaten in the car, paired with Alek's smoothly fruity long black. The crows, sullen, look in a bin.

There are customer number restrictions inside Frank's Deli, so savour your allocated slot by perusing fridges stacked with take-home packs of house-smoked salmon, pasta, Polish salad, meatballs and bolognaise, along with smoked sausage, pork and pistachio terrine and chicken liver pate. Produce shelves are filled with Olasagasti anchovies, Mount Zero Olive Oil, Lulu's Remedy Chilli Oil, Hot Luck Sauce and more.

Bringing a hospitality dream to life with a sibling, a fiance and other family members, is clearly a joy for Kelly and the Jakubiaks. Visiting their deli is like hanging out with close neighbours or the cousins you really like. The bonus is their food, honed over years of family table gatherings, is as lovely as their company.  

The Breakfast Sammy is one of the picnic-friendly takeaway options.
The Breakfast Sammy is one of the picnic-friendly takeaway options. Photo: Janie Barrett

The low-down

Frank's Deli                           

Main attraction: A buzzing, friendly New York-style family deli offering Polish-influenced sandwiches, meats, soups and cheeses with sterling coffee options.

Must-try dish: Breakfast Sammy, a fat milk bun hugging luscious cheese and egg fold with spicy, supple brisket pastrami, Polish speck or mushrooms.

Insta-worthy dish: Polish ploughman's plate, a handsome range of pickle, egg, beet relish, vegetable salad and tomato with the choice of Polish ham, Kielbasa (smoked Polish sausage) or house-cured, hot-smoked salmon.

Drinks: Little Marionette coffee $4-$5; hot chocolate, chai $4; Tippity tea $5; juice, sparkling waters, non-alcoholic beer, sodas, kombucha $4-$7.

https://www.franksdeli.com.au/