Al Brown describes Depot as a casual eatery where punters can “Drop in and refuel” on everything from live oysters to lesser-used cuts of meat. All washed down with a carafe (yes, a carafe – and tumblers) of good New Zild wine. While it wasn’t yet possible for us to ‘drop in’ just a week after opening – the wait for a table was about 45 minutes but so, so worth it – that Depot is a relaxed, social, yet still intimate environment is immediately obvious.
And the food, ah, the food is just so damn good. Live oysters and cockles, shucked to order; plenty of interesting fish options like Smoked Kahawai Cakes (savoury, tangy and satisfying), Snpper Sliders (think mini fish burgers in sweet pillows of freshly baked bread); lesser-used cuts of meat like skirt steak (quickly grilled on charcoal – packed with steaky flavour and with a nice chew) and classic sides like a slaw with peanuts or iceberg wedge with ranch dressing (the perfect antidote to the stingy rocket salads across the city). We were more than happy with the Mt Edwards Pinot Noir on tap, which we ordered in a carafe. Yes, there’s a touch of retro about Depot, but its not kitset or kitsch, it’s a return to food that tastes great without being complicated, to food that can be shared and punctuated with mmmmm’s and ahhhhh’s and even – shock – eaten with your hands and chewed vigorously with your molars – and talked about in a lively, buzzy atmosphere.
The food: Fresh, simple, flavourful. Enough little interesting things to keep curiosity piqued.
The place: Rustic industrial but not overdone – London meets Melbourne comes to Auckland. Sharing the loos with the Red Hummingbird next door could make for an interesting sojourn.
The service: Informal but attentive and brainy.
Spotted on the night we visited: John and Bronagh Key, Simon Gault slurping cockles, and a number of Shortie St faces.
Depot, 86 Federal St, Auckland City. (09) 3637048. No reservations but room out front for a pre-dinner drink.