If you’ve ever watched an episode of Michael van de Elzen’s “The Food Truck” or “Family Recipes”, then you’ll know what kind of food to expect at the “Food Truck Garage”. This popular restaurant is situated at 90 Wellesley Street W in Auckland’s CBD. It took us a few minutes to find, as the GPS kept telling us that it was on the opposite (diagonal) corner to where it actually is and we were happy to see that there was ample (paid) parking available.
Having been the first time that I’d gone to this restaurant, I was unsure of what to expect. If you’re thinking about going, make sure that you are not in hurry to be anywhere else! This is not the kind of restaurant where you can pop in for a quick bite to eat. You’ll need at least two hours if the restaurant is busy. We arrived at lunchtime on a Sunday afternoon and were promptly told that there was a ten to fifteen minute waiting list for a table. We were happy to wait, as this was going to be an experience in itself and not something I was keen to miss.
We were asked to walk through the restaurant to the outside waiting area – a small open area next to the restaurant that had been blocked off with blue painted drums and the side of a staircase. It is covered with a tarpaulin, so if it’s drizzling or raining there is a place to shelter from the rain while waiting. There is no seating in this waiting area, but there are a few tables with menus where you can decide on what you’d like to eat before you get inside and your drinks orders are taken and brought to you while you wait. Decor in the waiting area is simple, consisting of three large drums against the back wall that act as a ‘garden’ containing plants and herbs. The original Food Truck (which Michael used to do his series with) is parked there and is used as an additional kitchen, where the hot dogs are prepared and cooked.
Once your name is called, you will be taken to your table inside the restaurant. If you did not get your drinks while waiting, they will be brought to you now and you’ll get another chance to order drinks if you hadn’t already done so or if you changed your mind. As the food is prepared fresh, the dishes you order may arrive at different times.
After placing our order, we had a twenty to thirty minute wait before the food arrived. We’d ordered burgers and baked chips and the burgers arrived first, with the chips arriving once we were halfway through the burgers. As mentioned before, the restaurant was really busy and packed to capacity. The tables were so close together that there was barely any space to walk between them. The atmosphere in the restaurant buzzes with all the activity and yet still manages to feel very laid-back. Internal decor consists of bare wooden tables, shelves “decorated” with wooden palettes containing fresh produce, bottles of preserved or pickled vegetables and chillies and the odd pot plant dotted in amongst the chaos of unused kitchen equipment. The kind of things you’d expect to see in an old farmhouse kitchen.
The food was definitely worth the wait. A quick glance at the headings on the menu may make it look like the food is simple takeaway fare (burgers, salads, wraps, hot dogs, etc), but the combination of unusual or unexpected ingredients makes this a real experience for your taste buds! If you’re visiting Auckland, this is one restaurant that needs to be added onto your list of things to do or see. You won’t regret it.