A construction delay put the opening of Ernest Delicatessen 18 months behind schedule. In that time, the number of Adelaide’s sandwich delis has skyrocketed, with a tidal wave of Italian panini, New York-style delis and nostalgic Aussie throwbacks hitting our social media feeds and cafes.

But not too many are doing it with the chops of James Brinklow, the former fine-dining chef who made Auge one of Adelaide’s best Italian restaurants in the early 2000s and later led the kitchen at The Lane Vineyard for 12 years. Fewer still are doing it in Hahndorf, a town better known for its German sausages, cellar doors and old-school lolly shop. But Brinklow, a Hahndorf resident of over 2o years, wanted to inject some fresh energy into the historic main street.

“We’re trying to hopefully lead the way and make it a little more fashionable,” he tells Broadsheet, acknowledging the town’s kitsch tourist trappings. “We’re trying to get the locals out on the street a bit more … because without the locals Hahndorf is screwed.”

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Brinklow has transformed the former site of the German Village Shop into a contemporary cafe and deli (retaining the heritage 1866 frontage) with a light, bright fit-out of white tiles and peach grout, forest-green cabinetry and terrazzo flooring.

On the menu: four sandwiches served on his light and airy 24-hour-proved focaccia (which you can also buy separately to take home). There’s a deli meats number with mortadella and two kinds of salami, basil pesto, stracciatella and antipasto; chicken salad with poached chicken, mayo, cucumber, almond and oak lettuce; a meatball sub with pork-and-veal polpette, green salsa and Parmigiano Reggiano; and a vego option with soft egg, mayo, oak lettuce, kale pesto and avo.

He’s also bringing the Italian flair he honed at Auge to a lunch menu of relaxed, home-style Mediterranean plates like cotoletta alla Milanese, house-made pasta (with blue swimmer crab, chilli and Ambleside gin or sage-and-white-pork ragu), salumi sliced to order, and snacky tinned seafood served with that house-baked focaccia, pickles and a coddled egg. For brunch? There’s a classic continental breakfast or a three-cheese omelette, best paired with Five Senses coffee.

Coffee aside, Brinklow’s keeping things local with meat from nearby butcher Max Noske & Son as well as Nino’s Meat & Smallgoods in Paradise, near where he grew up. Vegetables come from Hahndorf as well as small-scale farmer Urban Grow Boi in Carey Gully.

On Fridays, opening hours are extended for pasta night, when you can dine on spaghetti with lemon, chard and bottarga, say, or rigatoni with ’nduja and vodka sauce, supplemented with starters like mortadella with pickled pineapple and mustard; liver parfait with blackberry, hazelnut and radicchio; and roasted peppers with capers, fried bread and chilli oil.

You can also pair your meal with an Adelaide Hills wine from the likes of Loverman, BK Wines, Terre a Terre, La Prova and Hahndorf Hill.

Ernest Delicatessen
48/50 Mount Barker Road, Hahndorf

Mon 8.30am–3.30pm
Tues closed
Wed & Thu 8.30am–3.30pm
Fri 8.30am–3.30pm (Pasta e Vino 5pm–10pm)
Sat 8.30am–3.30pm
Sun 8.30am–3pm