A few weekends ago we went to Groupe F’s Skin Of Fire at Auckland Domain. The show was spectacular.IMG_2848 IMG_2832 IMG_2827 IMG_2840 IMG_2844 IMG_2846 IMG_2868 IMG_2880 IMG_2909 IMG_2925 IMG_2924

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Let’s get right into it. The soft shell crab is the best I’ve had in a long time and so is the kaarage chicken. The lunch set is easy on the wallet and service is friendly and of course very polite. Decor is not Cocoro standard but still okay. Though the outside seating doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the restaurant. I’d fully recommend the Deluxe Lunch Set ($28) which comes with your choice of 3 ‘tapas’ (again, get the soft shell crab and kaarage chicken). They are closed on Sundays.

Tatsumi
73 Davis Crescent (next to Archie’s and The Flying Burrito Brothers)
Newmarket, Auckland

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“Can you recommend me a place to eat?”  Depot.

“What’s your favourite restaurant in Auckland?”  Depot.

That’s generally how conversations go, but wait times at Al Brown’s Depot Eatery detract most people. Even on a Monday night the restaurant has kickstarted a waitlist and is full right up to the drinks tables outside as soon as we hit six o’clock. Tip: get in at 5:30 and make sure the whole gang is on time. I can assure you it’s well worth the wait. Classic Depot food is at least a dozen fresh tuatua clams to begin and fish sliders for all ($17 for 3 or $5.50 each) – you will want more than one. If oysters are your thing, get those too. I recommend going for many small plates to share. You can request to get portion sizes as per the number of diners, so no fighting occurs. The smoked brisket tortilla ($15 for 3 or $5 each) is packed with flavour and incredibly juicy. The big plates are not as intriguing. The skirt steak ($25) is good, but probably not Baduzzi good. Though the mustard is one-of-a-kind and the tobacco onions are so incredibly delicious – can we get those as a side on its own? There’s a lot of meat on the plate with the crisp ‘Freedom Farms’ pork hock ($32) but the meat is dry and lacking that punch of flavour that you have in the other dishes. Potato skins ($10) are great as a side, they do fill you up almost immediately though. When dessert time rolls around tell them you’re going next door. Al Brown’s The Fed 3-way pie combo ($18) is best especially if you want everything, otherwise get the banoffee ($11.50) if you’re going solo.

Depot is the restaurant that truly reflects the kiwi culture – rustic decor, fresh seafood, casual, lively. There are no white table cloths and no gasps when you drop a fork or when you get the bill. Service is top notch, your ice cold tumbler rarely goes empty for a few minutes. Rest easy and recommend this place to all your friends visiting from afar. It’s always a good time at the Depot.

Oh, and did I mention the sliders? You have to get the sliders.

Depot Eatery
86 Federal Street, Auckland Central

New beginnings are always very exciting. Brian Campbell recently left the narrow, honeycomb-walled sweet house, Milse, to start his own dessert pop-up all over town. I made it to the very first one last Monday at Meredith’s.

The first three dishes cost $45 in total, and an extra $9 could bring you to a sugar high with a fourth dessert.IMG_2469

Each plate was delicately presented and visually appealing. You can expect no less from Brian with a CV as impressive as his (stalk here). The first dessert was Tonka Bean Vanilla Hyssop Panna Cotta served with strawberries, cherries and lemon curd. As you dig through the dish, the sourness from the lemon curd and the hint of hyssop in the panna cotta makes the dish surprisingly refreshing and delicious.IMG_2417 IMG_2440

I wasn’t a big fan of the second course. A true beetroot supporter would enjoy this one but beetroot and I are not the best of friends. The beetroot mousse was topped with raspberries and yoghurt cake. On the side there were beetroot meringues, raspberry puree and a slice of fresh beetroot. I loved the freeze-dried meringues and fresh raspberry the most. IMG_2454IMG_2456

The third course was divine. The dish came out with a chocolate globe on top of a pile of chocolate soil and hidden inside was a very rich orange flavoured chocolate mousse. The soil was a mix of macadamia nuts, cacao nibs, chocolate coated rice puffs, mint leaves and chewy caramel nugget with a swirl of caramel. The combination was one crunchy gooey mess.IMG_2525 IMG_2498IMG_2527

Now most people would stop here, but you know, it’s all or nothing. So to end the night we finished off with a plum dish. Sour plums were accompanied with sweet sable breton. The popcorn though was a little stale.IMG_2554

There are positive and negative things about pop-ups. They’re of course exciting and mysterious, and due to the limited time only feature, they induce high levels of FOMO aka fear of missing out. The downside is the set menu which cannot be catered to any dietary requirements. You can keep up with the news on where the next pop-up is on Instagram @briancampbell80.img_2410-2Untitled-1


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The first Yelp Elite Event of 2015 kicked off at Cépage on O’Connell Street with Maison Vauron and La Fromagerie. We’d heard about Cépage, opened by Logan and Will of Black Hoof, but hadn’t been. I always seem to forget about these small hidden streets in the heart of the city. So wine and cheese make the perfect pair, change that to French wine and cheese served by knowledgeable French men – winning. Our favourite was the Epoisses Berthaut and the Chateau Marcadis Lalande De Pomerol 12 red (pronouncing anything accurately the entire night was a lost cause). We’re ready to go buy some of the wine and cheese to indulge at home and can’t wait to go dine at Cépage and Black Hoof soon, yes – Elite Events have this knock-on effect on you. This year’s Elite Event line up sounds superb, we can’t wait to try out more new products and hear from businesses we haven’t come across yet. Find out how you can be an Elite here – see you at the next one.

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Last year In-N-Out popped up at Ponsonby Central, literally. There was no pre-warning and everything sold out within a few hours. This year we were more prepared. We were at Nugent Street at 11am, got our wristband and came back to collect the burger 2 hours later.

The burger buns were soft, salad toppings were generous, and there was also some grilled onion with our Double Double in Animal Style. The patties were a decent size and covered in cheese but there wasn’t a great deal of flavour. This might be because we had high expectations as a result of the continuous hype. Most people that are In-N-Out fans go on about the french fries and milkshakes, both of which were MIA at the little Newmarket pop-up (say, what). So until we make it over to the States it’s hard to say whether we are fans or not, for now, Better Burger is the one for simple and cheap burger meals.

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Queenstown is an absolute beauty. There are mountains in your backyard, burger shops that open till 5am, water so clear it makes you want to drink it. The city is a true tourist destination, there are next to none locals and the supermarket is the tiniest thing ever. It’s very busy, there are people hopping onto water jets constantly, a steam boat that drives off into the mountains, live music, markets, frisbee golfers, bicycles. Honestly, it’s the best place ever.

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