Depot (and Bellota)


On paper, it’s easy to wonder if Al Brown‘s Depot is playing a Keyser Soze-magnitude trick on Auckland. No bookings, crowds to battle, wait for ages to sit outside drinking wine out of a tumbler, before being granted access to sit at the bar and eat upper-mid-range-priced food on sharing plates? Well, we did all the above, and still loved it.

We didn’t show up at Depot until after eight on Saturday night, which is quite possibly the worst time to go, but we gained entry at around half nine. The waiting-so-long-for-a-table blow is softened by Depot’s team – everyone is warm, welcoming and scarily efficient. There’s no mucking about once you’re in, drink and food orders are taken immediately, and dishes arrive magically on time as you finish the one previous. I guess the service HAS to be good – it was still absolutely heaving at almost eleven o’clock, and I can imagine Auckland’s dining public, hyped on Metro reviews and awards can be tricky to manage if things get out of shape.

As for the food – we shared the snapper tortillas (delicate and delicious), lamb ribs (melt in mouth stuff) and the Pork Hock as a main. With a crispy layer on top of some extremely tender meat, along with salsa verde and creamy mash potato, the challenge was to create little spicy, creamy, cracking perfect forkfuls every time. My only criticism of the food was the extremely generous servings of fat on the lamb and the pork, the kind you’d cut off if you were at home, but you wolf down when you’re out, ‘cos it’s a special occasion. There’s no doubt fat is tasty, and Depot is not afraid, to say the least.

We left plenty on the menu to explore (LIKE DESERT!), and we’ll be back, probably targeting a less frantic time of the week. I hear their breakfasts are very good. Depot is fantastic – and probably deserves its supreme award in the Metro. It’s a really different night out and the busyness and buzzyness are infectious. Recommended.

During our wait for a table, we snuck across to Bellotta – and had a great time. It’s a neat room, and two of the little tapas we had were sublime, the cassava chips and the dish with two types of sausages, fava beans and grapes. We’re keen to go back and try some more dishes there too, also recommended.

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