Print Edition: May 23, 2012
45859 Yale Road, Chilliwack BC
Hours: Mon to Thurs 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (closed Sat and Sun)
Price: $6-$10 (around $5 for just soup)
The Yellow Deli Restaurant is located on Yale Road in downtown Chilliwack. It was formerly known only as The Preserved Seed before extensive renovation expanded the restaurant area. Now the Preserved Seed refers specifically to their produce and organic section of the store. The menu at The Yellow Deli offers a limited selection of soups, sandwiches and salads; the food is decent, though not outstanding. Yet somehow I have ended up eating there a handful of times over the past few months.
The selections, although not terribly exciting (turkey sandwich, tomato soup, cranberry and nut salad), are obviously prepared with great care. The food, described as “mostly organic,” is fresh, and the bread is baked on site everyday. With the sandwich combo you get a basket of chips (chips, not fries) and a pickle. I like the “Prince and Pauper” sandwich, which consists of a slice of tofu marinated in what I assume to be tamari soy, topped with melted cheese, avocado, tomato and a house sauce. I find most of the sandwich selections a bit salty, but otherwise satisfactory.
The salads are crisp and the soups quite good – one or two soups are made fresh each day. The ginger carrot soup makes a trip for lunch worthwhile. The meals are not badly priced either; the average cost of a sandwich is about $8.
The restaurant also offers a selection of smoothies, real fruit juice and organic pops. And, if you’re interested in dessert or something to take home for a treat, there are fresh-baked cookies. I personally find the selection a bit too wholesome: the ginger cookie with intrusive chunks of ginger, the oatmeal raisin and the fig-flavoured cookie all taste too, well, “healthy.”
In doubling the size of the restaurant, the owners have also come up with some interesting choices in décor. Everything appears to be crudely homemade, from the rough-hewn tables to the leather-upholstered chairs and the fruit baskets suspended as lampshades. There is the soundtrack (playing incessantly both inside and out) of folksy music for which the instrument de rigueur is the fiddle. That said, I find that the ambience itself makes a visit satisfying; when there is a fire burning in the stone fire place beneath the exposed roof beams, there is a feeling of coziness and a sense of home, much in contrast to the loud clattering and more trendy milieu of a place like Milestones or Earl’s.
The Yellow Deli is run by a religious cult known as “The Twelve Tribes.” Judging by the painted image of Jesus on the wall—looking remarkably like John Lennon, I might add—it can be assumed this group represents a mix of adherence to hardcore Christianity and nostalgic reverence for Hippie culture. The walls are filled with images and writing on free love, justice and something about time travel on a school bus. Under the “who we are” heading of their website, it states they are a messianic community who “love one another so greatly that they are of one heart and mind, holding all things as common property, living together” and “devoted to one another because they’re devoted to the One who saved them from death and misery.”
Those who work there have the look in their dress of Amish farmers and in their expressions of contented devotion. The women have long hair pulled back into low ponytails and they all, without exception, wear long, shapeless skirts or dresses paired with sensible walking shoes. The men’s hair is kept in short ponytails; they all have beards. Anyone who needs glasses wears the iconic round Lennon frames.
Another shared quality is their vague approach to waiting tables. Our waiter forgot to bring menus and then tried to take our orders. No matter. Their faces always have a friendly smile and the premises are impeccably clean and well kept.
While the servers and cooks are all obviously deeply religious (on one occasion, a young man, after clearing our lunch dishes, skipped away singing “hallelujah”), they never attempt to push their religion on their patrons. I’d recommend at least one visit to The Yellow Deli, if only to experience its unique atmosphere. It makes for a very interesting meal.