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Al Brown’s Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar supreme winner of Metro / Audi Restaurant of the Year

Restaurateur / chef Al Brown’s Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar is the winner of the supreme award in the Metro / Audi Restaurant of the Year Awards 2012.

The awards have been announced tonight (Monday 23 April) at an official ceremony in Auckland.

As well as the Supreme Award, Depot has also taken out Best New Restaurant and Best Casual Bistro. Brown – who hails from the capital city – has been awarded Audi Progressive Restaurateur of the Year.


Awards judge and Metro magazine editor Simon Wilson says Depot has changed the dining scene.

“We’re getting more casual and Depot leads the charge here, providing a great dining experience in a relaxed atmosphere and some of the fine dining restaurants are getting more casual in response.

“Al has taken Kiwi cuisine and shown just how well it can work in a restaurant. The New Zealand-ness of his menu contrasts sharply with many other restaurants and that’s a great thing. He’s shown us that the food we all love to eat on the beach or around the barbecue can be cooked so well that it’s great to eat in a restaurant too,” Wilson says.

“Lots of chefs say they do this kind of thing, but no one understands it or does it as well as Depot. The simplicity of it is often the best part.”

Clooney has won Best Fine Dining Restaurant, something awards judges noted with excitement in light of a disappointing 2011 for the Freeman’s Bay restaurant.

“They have picked themselves up and come out on top; very impressive,” says Wilson.

Restaurant Personality of the Year – the only category decided by public vote – has been won by newcomer Ganesh Raj of Kumeu’s The Tasting Shed.

And best dish went to the fish soup at Roxy with the judges describing it as “simply a joy”.

“It doesn’t look like fish soup, but chef Sean Marshall’s superbly cooked fish and shellfish, served with a cold jellied bouillabaisse, is a taste revelation.”

The awards are judged by a panel of 12 experienced food industry people – a combination of critics and professionals. The bookings are normally made under false names, the visits are not announced and all meals are paid for.

Wilson says that the key question in judging is ‘How much do we want to come back?’. “Competition is fierce right now with new venues opening up, it seems, each week. The judging process is rigorous – it doesn’t matter who you know, if the restaurant doesn’t stack up, it won’t make the grade.”

Judges were impressed by a resurgence of traditional and classic foods on menus.

“The fashion for local and homemade – freshly shucked oysters, home-smoked flavours, heirloom tomatoes – is catching and nostalgic. Depot is a leader in this trend, and so, in a fine-dining way, are some of the upmarket places like Merediths and Clooney.”


The winners are:

Supreme winner

Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar

Best fine dining, Clooney

Runner-up, The French Café

Best smart dining, Cibo

Runner-up, O’Connell St Bistro

Best upmarket bistro, The Engine Room

Runners-up, Ponsonby Rd. Bistro, Pure

Best casual bistro, Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar

Runner-up, Coco’s Cantina

Best Asian, Cocoro

Runner-up, Ebisu

Best Italian, Totó

Runner-up, Poderi Crisci

Best rural, Poderi Crisci

Runner-up, Casita Miro

Audi progressive restaurateur of the year

Al Brown, Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar

Runner-up, Sid Sahrawat (SIDART)

Best chef, Michael Meredith (Meredith’s)

Best service, The French Café

Runner-up, Coco’s Cantina

Best dish, Fish soup at Roxy

Best drinks list, The French Café

Runner-up, O’Connell St Bistro

Best short drinks list, Cocoro

Runner-up, Molten Restaurant personality of the year

Ganesh Raj, The Tasting Shed

Best new restaurant, Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar

Full details are available in the May issue of Metro magazine, onsale from Tuesday 24 April. Visit http://www.facebook.com/metroNZ for further details.


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