[Pictures : David Straight]
Al Brown hosted us at Depot one night. The next week, we went back on our own dime. Twice. Depot is everything we like in a restaurant. Utterly devoid of pretension (you can’t book), comfortable, easy, immaculate service and of course, casual but impeccable food.
We drank wine on tap in stocky tumblers (there’s either pinot noir, $8, or a sauvignon blanc, $10). We devoured an array of fresh New Zealand (Tio Point, Russell, Dunedin) oysters and cockles, shucked to order and served on ice with three different sauces (chardonnay vinegar with shallots, rock sugar ginger syrup or the American-style horseradish cocktail sauce). An eating orgy ensued, running from Kingfish sashimi on blobs of oyster cream and topped with apple and fennel seed ($16.50) to a hefty pork hock, crispy skinned and accompanied with a generous hand of celeriac mash and apple slaw ($29). There was more too — homemade tortillas with fish and slaw ($18); falling apart beef ribs with skordalia – a Greek paste of almond, lemon, potato and olive oil ($18).
While the menu cherry picks from the best of various ports of call, it is inherently, defiantly Kiwi. Dessert – stupendous, salivatory! Sugar pie or heavy gingerbread with a dollop of cream and a tangy glut of stewed tamarillo. They change each day at the whim of the chef. If we could afford to eat here three or four times a week, we would. That’s not to say it’s expensive – far from it. NS
HOURS Open from 7am every day.
CONTACT DETAILS 86 Federal Street, Auckland, ph 363-7048. www.eatatdepot.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS No bookings, but they do validate your ticket if you park at SkyCity across the road. And it’s a little tough on vegetarians — there is very little for you here apart from the sides, which are very good, and a single (and delicious) falafel dish with goat curd. Possible, but not ideal.
SUSTAINABILITY A quibble here — while many still serve snapper, we were surprised Al Brown would. In light of the overfished status it’s been given, it’s odd that a man very much focussed on sustainable, locally sourced food would do so.