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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

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twohonesttruths_FederalDelicatessen01The newly opened Federal Delicatessen (aka “The Fed”) is another of Al Brown’s creations. The atmosphere and decor of the restaurant is definitely not something you would expect from a typical Auckland eatery. Even the staff are dressed the part. We now officially have an NYC diner right here in the heart of the CBD! (Spot Al Brown in the photos)twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen06twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen07The Fed offers a kiwi twist on NYC jewish delicatessen. To drink we ordered the Egg Cream ($6), the Chimney Sweep ($4) and some orange juice. The Egg Cream was something new to me. It had a hint of soda and a subtle egg flavour. For those who love peanut butter and chocolate, the Chimney Sweep tastes just like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup but less salty. We had to order another because we couldn’t get enough of it.twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen13twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen16As appetisers we had Latkes($18) which tasted similar to a hash brown served with salmon. The salmon was very fresh and the potato crispy. We also tried the Smoke Kahawai Cakes served with lime mayo ($14).twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen15twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen14For mains we shared a spit-roast chicken ($23). It was served with a pot of gravy that helped moisten the chicken as it was slightly dry – too dry for my liking. We also had Poutine ($9 small), a Canadian dish with fries, gravy and cheese curd which tended towards the saltier side.twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen18twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen17 To satisfy our sweet tooth we opted for the Banana & Toffee Pie with caramel popcorn ($11.50). It was delicious. It wasn’t overly sweet and I loved the addition of caramel popcorn.The Mom’s Recipe Lemon Meringue Pie ($11.50) was also a good choice. The lemon curd was tangy and paired well with freeze-dried raspberries.twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen09twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen10twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen03twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen04twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen20twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen08twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen11twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen12twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen02 twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen05twohonesttruths_Federaldelicatessen19As a newbie to this type of cuisine, the mains didn’t wow me particularly but dessert and the Chimney Sweeps certainly did. I would suggest also trying their breakfast and sandwich menu and their highly raved about NY Cheesecake.

Other Al Brown restaurants we have visited and blogged: Best Ugly Bagels, Depot Eatery.

Federal Delicatessen.
86 Federal Street, Auckland Central.
T: 09 363 7184

THT-The-Fed

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