In my opinion, Al Brown’s Depot was the restaurant which kick started Auckland's dining revolution on the bow wave of the Rugby World Cup. "Open since 7am", Depot takes American and European style foods, and chucks in a classic Al Brown kiwi twist. Coupled with incredible service and a lively atmosphere to boot, Depot is one to remember.
Photo Cred // The Culture Trip
The first thing you notice is the crazy number of people cycling through the mahogany doors, emphasizing just how long everyone is willing to wait to taste a little bit of Al Brown genius. Be willing to wait. As you squeeze past the most recently satisfied departing diner, you notice an almost unfinished look pervading the walls and ceilings; industrial air ducts running the length of the ceiling. Think oak wood beach house meets contemporary designer. The considered, minimalist theme also embraces Depot’s wait staff; tidy white shirts lay canvas to black full body aprons; well trained but modestly witty (remember, Metro's hospitality personality of the year, Gatlin, holds down the fort most days).
Photo Cred // stuff.co.nz
We were told of an hour long waiting list before being seated in the outdoor patio area, placated by the drinks list. Once offered a table, we proceeded to order every type of oyster we could possibly get. Our waiter cut through the buzz of the restaurant with an incredible knowledge beyond the menu, despite mentioning he was relatively new to the job. Bravo to the Depot training staff.
The classic sliders were up first. Previously on the menu as pork, the revamped fish sliders melt in the mouth - not in a candy-floss kind of way, but in a smooth well-cooked hapuka kind of way. The bone marrow is a notoriously difficult to dish to eat. Told to use the ciabatta to scoop the marrow fresh off the bone, balanced with fresh citric salad to cut through the richness of the marrow, the culmination of cuisine styles amalgamate incredibly. This is not for the faint of heart. Less friendly to the vegetarian diet, my first visit involved classic snapper collars, and the NZ Meat board, featuring incredibly soft rabbit meat and shaved salami. I recommend the pork hock. My bias slips in as I love pork, but almost sizzles in your mouth.
The Bone Marrow – Photo Cred // Trip Advisor
Don’t go into this with a small budget in mind. Depot is an event. You don't go to Depot because you need somewhere to go for dinner, or lunch. You go for the dinner and the show. This is evident in the atmosphere, the excitement, the banter, the music and exuberance of the staff. A mainly NZ wine list dominates Depot's repertoire, less available by the glass than by the bottle, but when celebrating you don't want anything less. The Odyssey Chardonnay is incredible, buttery and smooth. Moa breweries and craft style beers headline the drinks list and Al's love for New Zealand is highlighted in each offering. The total package Depot brought to the fore shook Auckland's dining scene to its foundations; reinventing how we look at a night out. Depot led the charge towards the tapas style trend we see in most restaurants today - with places like Orleans, Cafe Hanoi and Cassia following suit. It means a good time, and leads to discussion over the food. You're left so impressed by the cuisine that as you walk out the door you can't help but quote the cliché "compliments to the chef", because you mean it. Expect to see head nods all round from those with mouths too stuffed to utter a word.
So I take my hat off to Al, because he's turned me into a fan-boy. The entire place is buzzing with excitement and the friendly staff make you feel so at home you actually want to take your shoes off and put your feet up. The food is a smorgasbord of individual dishes of genius, incredibly presented and too easy to gannet. The wine list is well selected, the staff know their shit, and the decor is so well suited to the theme. You won't find this kind of restaurant anywhere else.
Al Brown, my man - Photo Cred // Recipe Finder
Title Photo Cred // Metro Eats