Celebrated chef Al Brown is probably New Zealand's most prolific culinary ambassador. A multi-hyphenate cookbook author, tv star, and restaurateur, Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar was his first solo venture after founding Wellington icon, the fine-dining Logan Brown.
The buzzy, casual eatery, located at the foot of the Sky Tower landmark, is also next-door neighbour to Federal Delicatessen, another concept under the Al Brown empire of eateries. Despite the no-reservations policy, at the full-house of a bistro, turnover was high and we didn't have to wait very long for a couple of seats to open up at the counter.
Depot's approach to food is easy-going, crowd-friendly and communal, so plates are hearty and rustic, with lots to go around for sharing.
A must-try, the Wood Roasted Free-Range Chicken (NZ$32) was succulent and flavoursome. The smoky char of the marinade set off beautifully against the spice of the Israeli cous cous and grilled aubergine, and cooled by the tang of the creamy yoghurt.
The surprise highlight of the Skirt Steak (NZ$25) was those tobacco onions, spliced thin and fried to a delightful crisp. Holy cow were they addictive. According to the bartender, the recipe for those onions is available in Al Brown's cookbook...yippee!! Layers of iceberg wedge slathered in ranch, and a side of habanero mustard cut through the rich heft of the meat.
A complimentary starter of freshly toasted pita and hummus was so delicious we almost felt guilty that it was complimentary.
The alfresco section of the eatery where we sat on those 3 stools to wait for a table to open up inside. Wait staff frequently checked in on us to ensure we got our water glasses refilled, and sent us updates on availability ETAs.
86 Federal Street
Tel: +64 9 363 7048
Open daily from 7am to 11pm