The new eatery opened by Wellintonian Al Brown – Depot – is tucked away on Federal Street and is his first venture in Auckland. Al Brown is a successful restaurateur, food writer and chef and is best know for his fine dining restaurant – Logan Brown – in Wellington.
We arrived at Depot on a busy Wednesday night and the restaurant was packed. We were pretty lucky to get seats (even though we had to share a table) as people that came in after us were either turned away or had to wait by the bar. It’s understandable as Depot’s opening was just five days prior. Anyway, we were greeted and shown to a long wood-block table and were offered complimentary pita bread with hummus while we decided on what to eat.
They have a nice variety of options and the menu is kind of designed so food are shared amongst the diners. My partner and I decided to order a few dishes to share. The first is the New Zealand charcuterie plate which is a selection of cold meats which includes ham, wild pork salami, wild rabbit rillettes and air cured paprika beef. Served with toasted bread and an amazing plum chutney, it was exceptional.
As the live molluscs bar is one of the selling points of Depot, we could not resist on getting some live shellfish, shucked to order. I’m not the biggest fan of oysters, so we decided to try out the two types of clams that they had to offer. The diamond shell and little neck clams were delicious. We had ours served natural, but you can have it with different types of vinaigrette and sauce. These clams had a lovely saltiness that is not over-powering and were slightly sweet and creamy with a faint ocean flavor. Delicious.
The sides we ordered were relatively small compared to the price but were good none-the-less. We had the iceberg lettuce wedge with ranch dressing and the crispy potato skin with salt and manchego cheese. Of course, nothing is complete without dessert. However, I had forgotten to take a photo of it (oops). We shared a delightful sugar pie served at room temperature.
Depot is unpretentious and this is evident in their food, style and vibe. It is a lovely place to meet with friends, order wine on tap and enjoy fresh shellfish. The surprising part was that Al Brown was there during our visit and you can see his dedication. He went around different tables, greeting the customers and engaging in chit chat. Then you can see him opening up shell fish, clearing tables and taking orders. It’s no surprise that although the restaurant was busy, we were served quickly and were taken care of. I can’t wait to come back again. Oh, and FYI, they don’t take reservations.
Date: Wedndesday 17th August, 2011 | Location: 86 Federal Street, Auckland CBD | Food: Eatery + Oyster Bar