This week, I convinced Miss A to try out Al Brown’s new restaurant at Sky City: Depot with me. It’s had great reviews and what I read about the food really appealed to me. If you haven’t read the reviews, this place is small. The are no real chairs, just stools that you perch at. This means your bags and coats may need to find a hook on the wall. It also means that you’re unlikely to get cosy enough to let your dining experience drag on. Smart.
Third time’s a charm.
We had failed to get a table twice the night before – at about 7pm (full) and then at about 10pm (kitchen closed). This time we were joined by Uncle and more determined to eat. It was lunch so the turnaround was faster and that means better odds for a table. They don’t take bookings here and they get busy. You have been warned.
We took one end of a large table. If communal dining isn’t your thing, then you might want to say so. What better way to indulge in a little food voyeurism than to have other people’s food delivered right to your table? I also enjoyed looking into the tiny bar-side kitchen. There’s no crying or shouting in this kitchen. It’s a well oiled machine.
Right off the bat, Al Brown asked if we were in a hurry. Great idea. Some diners don’t appreciate being rushed, but if you are short on time, it’s usually up to you to let the staff know. Not so here.
Some bread to start with. Flat tortilla style wedges with a mild, sweet paste of something or rather. We gobbled them up.
The Depot menu is interesting with unique cuts of meat that you don’t often see. We really couldn’t decide and after a bit of indecisiveness over the menu, Al asked us if we trusted him to order for us. We did.
1. Turbot sliders w/ preserved lemon and watercress
A turbot is a monster sized flounder and I don’t remember ever seeing it on a menu before. I adore flounder and I adored this turbot. I watched Get Fresh just this Sunday and after seeing the flounder dish he whipped up, I think Al Brown might have a thing for flounder too.
Harold: I want 30 sliders, 5 french fries, and 4 large cherry cokes.
Kumar: I want the same except make mine diet cokes.
My first introduction to sliders was from the stoner movie: Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. I’ve wanted to indulge in sliders ever since.
Sliders are tiny burgers (about 7 cm wide). We don’t call these sliders here in New Zealand. We don’t really call them anything. It’s more likely your average kiwi has indulged in 5 giant burgers than a single baby sized one. The fish was melt in your mouth tender and the preserved lemon was just right. I could have eaten all the sliders. Easy.
2. Battered snapper tortillas w/ slaw, coriander and green tomato salsa
New Zealand has this unreasonable obsession with snapper. I’m not a huge fan of snapper and eating these after the sliders only reminded me. They were nice, but not amazing (like the turbot was).
3. Lamb ribs w/ skordallia and cumin paprika oil
In my experience, there are pork ribs are pork and sometimes there are beef ribs. I’ve never heard of lamb ribs, but why the hell not? I love lamb. I love ribs. These were good. So tender and flavoursome, you could eat these without teeth. These ribs are great and they’re kind enough to share the recipe on the Depot website. Download it here.
4 & 5. Depot slaw w/ toasted peanuts, Potato skins w/ manchego, porcini salt
Our plates were cleared and we thought we were done. But then came coleslaw and potato skins. A nice way to fill up any gaps you might still have in your belly. Manchego is a Spanish sheep cheese. Slightly pungent, but perfect against the plain but humble potato. The coleslaw was creamy and yum. A delightful way to finish the meal.
The total bill for 3 came to $84 including juice/cokes. Not a cheap, but a fun experience and very good food. I consider it to be good value for the quality of food.
Great for omnis and good for pescatarians but vegetarians should dine elsewhere.
Making the average foodie squeal with delight:
- A variety of raw oysters and clams (pedigrees noted)
- Lambs tongue salad
- Crisp pork hock
- Hapuka belly
- Wine on tap
- Al Brown at your service
- Beignets and bacon butties for breakfast
86 Federal Street, Auckland 1010, NZ
09 363 7048
Open from 7am every day