Depot is a heartfelt place, it’s as simple as that. Most of the team who worked there when it first opened its doors in 2011 are still there, and the customers who loved it then still love it now. Everyone who’s ever come to Auckland has tried to get a table at Depot, from One Direction to Florence & the Machine, but the team have always stayed true to their wait list. This is Auckland’s restaurant, and one of my enduring favourites – a place where I have so many happy memories that I feel utterly at home every time I walk in the door.
Eating at Depot is a tactile experience. You’ll want to touch everything. You’ll want to unfold and refold the simple paper menu. You’ll want to eat the food on your neighbour’s plate as well as your own, with your fingers – behaviour which would likely be encouraged by the fun-loving waitstaff.
Ask for your oysters served natural or with chardonnay vinegar and shallots. Don’t leave without ordering the kingfish sashimi with oyster cream. Perhaps more importantly, get at least one plate of turbot sliders – tender fish served in miniature, pillowy buns with preserved lemon and watercress. I have watched friends cry with joy upon their first taste of this simple, signature dish. Depot is the reason for the slider craze that swept across New Zealand and saw Loaf slider buns in every supermarket across the country.
The menu changes with the seasons, which means that if you wait a year you can guarantee your favourites will come back. My favourite seasonal dishes are the quince tarte tatin, executive chef Kyle Street’s Brussels sprouts, and the pear, prosciutto, blue cheese and macadamia salad. There are some dishes that never change though, if they did there would be a public uprising. I’m talking about dishes like hapuka belly with green olive, lime and fresh herbs, or the crisp pork hock with apple and horseradish salsa verde.
Depot is a no fuss place, it’s just good food, served quickly, and good vibes, delivered with ease. They serve wine in tumblers, which is adorably casual and somewhat offensive to wine aficionados. Al Brown and team don’t care, they love to see people swilling fine Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc from a tumbler. Besides, you can also get Bollinger by the glass, which evens things out.
If you aren’t rushing out the door and running toward Depot already, let me tell you two more things. First, this place is open seven days from 7am and in the morning they serve bacon ‘doona’ sandwiches and french beignets with passionfruit curd until 11am. Second, Sugar Pie. That is all.