There is nothing better than a business meeting in a fantastic food location! Last week, I did a 24-hour dash to Auckland to give a presentation. My schedule meant that I had to have meetings over lunchtime and this gave me the opportunity to try out The Depot Eatery on Federal Street.
Federal Street in the centre of Auckland is home to some great eating spots but this was my first trip to Depot Eatery. I walked in and was quickly seated at the bar. The interior of Depot Eatery is quite rustic – think lots of raw wood and metal work. The water glasses are raw pressed metal.
Seating at the bar was quite a treat actually. Depot has a raw bar so I spent about 10 minutes fascinated by a chef opening oysters and steaming pots of mussels and clams.
The restaurant started to fill up and my meeting arrived. Now was the fun bit – ordering. Depot Eatery (like a lot of restaurants) creates lots of things to share, which just so happens to be my favourite way of eating. After ordering a selection of things, we got down to business.
Another thing I love is surprise dishes! No sooner had we ordered and broken out the laptops out then a waitress came past with some house made turkish bread with a sweet carrot puree. It was a great start to the meal. The bread was soft and doughy but the carrot puree was the real star. The carrot was so sweet with just a little bit of butter and cumin with it. Perfect beginning!
It was long before a gorgeous plate of mixed oysters arrived, laptops disappeared and we really got down to business. Depot Eatery offers two types of oysters – Bluff and Te Matuku. My preference was the Te Matuku from Waiheke (yes, I know I love anything from Weiheke) which were creamy and sweet but with an amazing taste of the sea. Either way, they were super fresh and it’s fantastic to watch the chef opening them right in front of you and just move the plate up to the bar.
Next up were the zucchini flowers with grilled zucchini and pine nuts. To be honest, this wasn’t what I was expecting. When I order zucchini flowers I expect them to be stuffed (preferably with a ricotta, anchovy, honey combination) but the flowers were so small that you couldn’t really stuff them. It was probably a little late in the season for them to be on the menu and I’ve noticed that they have since disappeared off it.
So really they were more like battered zucchinis but they were served with grilled zucchini, mint, pine nuts and goats curd. I really preferred the grilled zucchinis with were sweet and fresh. The olive oil, honey, lemon dressing worked really well with the salty goats curd as well.
Next up came the braised beef tacos which were UNREAL! Soft, spiced braised brisket that fell apart in your hands (amazing!) served with caramelised onions and topped with sour cream and toasted almonds on homemade tortillas. They were simply put delicious. The beef was so rich and warming and the sour cream just freshened the whole dish up. I would definitely go back for this one again and again!
The final dish – and the piece de resistance I must say – was the crisp ham hock. I am a massive fan of roast pork but I haven’t seen ham hock on many menus. It was simply to die for. The skin was incredibly crispy. It wasn’t quite crackling but it definitely had crackling characteristics. It was so crunch and sweet and just a little bit fatty. The ham underneath was soft and fell off the bone. It was like eating ham flavoured clouds. Truly, this was pig at its best.
It was really well paired with a sweet parsnip puree that probably had more cream in it than parsnip. Either way, I don’t care. We eat at restaurants so that we can eat just cream if we want, right? The main supporting start though was the apple and jalapeno salsa verde. I would never had thought to add jalapeno to the sliced apple but it worked really well and was a great contrast to the rest of heavy dish. It really freshened it up and added just the right level of spice.
It felt like all too soon that the meal was over, we were heading for the door and I was heading to the airport.
Depot Eatery should definitely be on your Auckland foodie hit list! The oysters were fresh, the meat was melting and the spicing was perfect. I’ll definitely be up for meetings like that!
86 Federal Street
T: +64 9 363 7048