12 Wyndham St
(09) 377 5992
Tuesday - Saturday
5pm - late
Trolley service: 6pm - 7pm - 8pm
Culprit is tucked up a quiet stairwell on lower Wyndham St, look for the sign projected onto the wall in the alcove. It’s owned by chefs Kyle Street and Jordan Macdonald, who met while working at Depot and the Fed – only two of Auckland’s best loved restaurants. They call their style “new American” – but it really defies categorisation. Think of it as experimental food with a focus on all that’s fresh, local, delicious and accessible, all filtered through the whims of the chefs on any given day.
This is a rule breaker of a restaurant, with a style of service inspired by an experience Kyle and Jordan had in San Francisco at State Bird Provisions. Small shared plates are served hourly on trolleys in the style of yum-cha, made fresh and rolled out to diners who can choose by sight, smell or price tag. Larger plates are intended for sharing and change regularly. The small plates are a delight and it can be agonising watching them roll past, wondering if there will be any left by the time the trolley reaches your table. A stand-out for me was a single, tiny duck tortellini in broth, served in a cut crystal glass and bursting with flavour. Once I ate kahawai sashimi, rubbed with Japanese plum paste and truffle, and served with eggplant jelly – my mind exploded with joy. I love the parfait with donuts, and the tartare with waffle cut crisps. Culprit’s food is a little bit tricksy and clever, but more importantly, it’s really really yum.
The floor is run by Nick Gallagher, also of the Depot, which means you can expect a high energy, fun time, an approachable and well-thought-out drinks list, and probably a new friend by the end of the night. I made such good friends with the table next door one night that we swapped numbers. Culprit is just a really great time. Get there.