Ella Woodard, aka Deliciously Ella, is my biggest foodie and lifestyle influence. She sparked my passion for plant-based food and inspired me to transform my diet towards this way of eating. So you can imagine my excitement when Ella announced that she would be opening her own deli, alongside fiancee Matt, in Marylebone. This was back in October, and I eagerly awaited its opening during the end of December to pay my first visit. However, there was no official, grand-scale opening as many were anticipating, rather it was a low-key gradual opening spread over a few days. Due to my proximity, once I had discovered that it had opened its doors to the public shortly before Christmas, I feel so lucky to have been one of its first customers. It goes without saying that the Mae Deli has soared straight to the top of my list of places to eat in London. I will admit, this review will be an extremely biased one, in fact, I’d probably already made up my mind that it would become my favourite place even before it opened! Still, my expectations were certainly not damaged. Here, I want to share my thoughts on this wonderful health-food hotspot that I believe all can enjoy, regardless of individual eating habits.
Firstly, the food served at the deli is definitely not about labels, it’s about celebrating natural, unprocessed food and just how amazing it can taste. The Mae Deli does in fact serve chicken and salmon as accompaniments, which was met with some initial controversy. Yet, it should be remembered that never has the Deliciously Ella brand advocated veganism, nor strict classifications. Rather, Ella’s approach has always been to allow others to appreciate this way of eating through whatever method is most comfortable for them. If this means adding some extra protein to their meal, then that can’t really be a bad thing. Additionally, the deli is a joint venture between Ella and Matt therefore, their aim is to suit all tastes.
“We always focus on taste over labels”
This is what makes the Mae Deli so special; I know that I can bring anyone here, regardless of their individual taste in food, and be confident that they’ll love it too. Unlike many other healthy hotspots in London, this place does not feel too intimidating or extreme, and I do think it was a wise choice not to name the deli ‘Kale & Co.’ as was the original idea. Although healthy eating has gained rapid momentum in recent years, I feel there are still a lot of people who are quite sceptical of it and what it involves. The Mae Deli proves that it really can be simple, delicious and satisfying, as more and more people are coming to realise.
“The Mae Deli is all about really delicious food”
Their philosophy is also up on a board in the deli; the emphasis on a sustainable lifestyle. It’s all about enjoying your food, nourishing your body and incorporating these things into your diet in a way that suits you as an individual. I love this philosophy, and is something that I remind myself of daily.
“The food at the Mae Deli is all about celebrating the amazing, versatile and exciting things you can do with natural foods.”
Situated on the idyllic Seymour Place, just a gentle stroll from the bustle of Oxford Street, the Mae Deli is super-easy to get to. Its nearest tube station is Marble Arch, which is not only great because of its position of the central line, it’s also close to lots of shops and other attractions. I’d never been to Seymour Place before (however, I am very acquainted with it now!) though, it really is a well-suited spot for the deli to establish itself. It’s a pretty street, and even with its striking blue facade, the deli sits serenely in amongst the neighbouring boutiques and restaurants.
Arranged over two floors, The Mae Deli is beautifully decorated and thoughtfully arranged. The care with which it has been designed is evident, and creates a tranquil and cosy atmosphere that I think Ella and Matt were aiming for. As you enter on street level, you’re greeted by the counter which is fully-stocked with an array of colourful and enticing dishes. Upstairs has stools where customers can look out onto the pretty street whilst eating, and downstairs there’s an intimate seating area with tables, chairs and cushions. The shabby-chic decor and little finishing touches, make you feel as though you’re relaxing at home, and reflects Ella’s own interior tastes that you can see from her pictures and videos.
As for the serving of the food and drink, it’s all done upstairs before you sit down. You might think this would make it difficult to find a table whilst carrying everything, but the staff are really helpful and will often locate and reserve a table for you as you order. They’re also happy to recommend combinations of dishes and are all so friendly to chat to. Once again, this only adds to the welcoming environment.
Although it can get quite crowded, I’ve never had to wait a long time to get a table. The Mae Deli serves everything for take-away too, if you need to grab a drink on-the-go or take lunch back to work with you.
Now onto the most important part… THE FOOD.
My favourite meal of the day! Breakfast at The Mae Deli was on my to-do list from the start, and I ticked it off during my most recent visit. I decided to go for porridge, which may sound boring, but topped with almond butter, toasted seeds and an apple and berry compote, it was the dream! You can mix and match the bases with toppings too to create your perfect combination. My friend had the pancakes, which have been on the menu since their celebrated day in February, and they looked absolutely divine. To top it all off – breakfast can be enjoyed all-day at the Mae Deli! Hooray!
Verdict: The perfect start to the day… at any time of the day!
Lunch and Dinner:
A ‘Mae Bowl’ is the unique feature of the Mae Deli, and is served for Lunch and Dinner. It allows you to choose from so many different dishes which are constantly changing – this is a great excuse to keep going back for another visit! You can choose between a hot or cold Mae Bowl, with the former made up of two hot dishes, accompanied with brown rice – perfect if you want something warming and comforting. Think tuscan bean stew or thai green curry… However, so far I’ve opted for the cold Mae Bowl. There have been lots additions to the menu, even since opening, so there’s always been something new I’ve wanted to try! Here are the combinations I’ve selected:
Mae Bowl 1: lentil and turmeric roasted cauliflower, raw red cabbage slaw and maple roasted sweet potato, topped with avocado pesto.
Mae Bowl 2: sundried tomato falafel, charred kale and broccoli and maple roasted sweet potato, topped with beetroot hummus.
Verdict: The maple roasted sweet potatoes are a triumph – not to be missed! I’d also recommend adding either the avocado pesto or beetroot hummus, as it brings everything together.
One word: Irresistible! I’m a huge fan of nutritious sweet treats and haven’t yet been to the deli without at least taking one to takeaway. But if you’re not after a meal, then I would certainly recommend the deli as the perfect coffee stop. The relaxed atmosphere makes it an ideal spot to meet with a friend over a warming drink and something sweet (of the nutritious kind), or take a break from busy Oxford Street. As I first visited in December, mince pies were on the menu. I was planning to make this Deliciously Ella recipe, so I simply had to try them before attempting them myself. Currently, there’s a selection of Easter treats too, such as the scone (my choice!) and lemon bunny-shaped biscuits. But on an average day, expect to find mango flapjacks, rocky roads, pecan brownies and an assortment of energy ball flavours. The fact they are freshly made and displayed on the top of the counter, makes them very tempting indeed.
Verdict: Too good to say no – I adore the Rocky Road!
At most delis, the drink that will accompany your food is usually an afterthought or an instant decision – but this is not the case at The Mae Deli. Drinks make up a core part of the menu and truly complete the meal. From juices to milks, to more warming drinks. And yes – they even serve coffees, which are made with brown rice milk, making them beautifully sweet. A new venture for me was a Matcha Latte, with an addition of cinnamon. I found the bright green colour quite fun, rather than off-putting, and it was lovely to have alongside my porridge.
Verdict: The ‘Greens’ juice has to be my favourite. As for my first Matcha Latte experience; I’m not sure it’ll replace my go-to Almond Milk Coffee Lattes, but I’ll definitely be going back for another soon.
Location – A pretty setting. Centrally located in London, with transport links and other attractions nearby.
Price – Cold Mae Bowl (eat in) = £11.10. Reasonable given the portion size and the high quality ingredients used. If you go for lunch, don’t expect to have an appetite for a large dinner! A Latte and Sweet treat will cost between £6-7; again, not bad when you consider how expensive the ingredients are.
Service – The staff are so friendly, and it’s evident that each of them understands the Deliciously Ella / Mae Deli philosophy too. The wait can be a while during busy times, as people decide on dishes to make up their bowl – but I think this is just a matter of the deli finding its feet. It’s opening was fairly recent after all.
Quality – The quality of the food and drink on offer cannot be faulted. Everything is fresh and lovingly made, and it’s reassuring to know there aren’t any hidden nasties.
Soon, it will be a year since changed my diet to this way of eating. It has been a truly worthwhile journey and I have so enjoyed making many new discoveries. It has influenced, not only my outlook on food, but on my lifestyle too – so, look out for my upcoming post as I reflect back a year on.