Kyle Street on Culprit: Unique, Fast-Paced, and Ready for Christmas

Kyle Street, Chef and co-founder of a thriving central Auckland eatery named Culprit, took a moment out of his very busy schedule to chat to us about why this restaurant needs to be on your to-try list this festive season.

Let’s chat, Kyle.

We’re so fortunate that central Auckland is home to a wide selection of world-class restaurants. What sets Culprit apart in the city’s thriving restaurant scene?

Yes, we are very lucky. What sets Culprit apart is probably the fact that we are independently owned and operated, this gives us the freedom to be a bit unique and try new things. Our service style is a little unusual, we call it Trolley Service. It’s a type of ‘fast paced, choose your own degustation’, where individually priced bites come around to diners on trolleys and trays, so you can choose whatever takes your fancy. We find it’s a great way to eat variety, you get to sample so much of what is local and in season all in one dinning experience.

How did the idea of Culprit come about?

Jordan (Jordan MacDonald, co-founder) and I were in the U.S, when we came across State Bird Provisions a restaurant in San Fran that pioneered this trolley service system. We loved how much fun it was and how much variety we got to have, it’s an idea that we felt was very ‘us’ – we enjoy showcasing lots of unusual food and ingredients, such as secondary cuts of meats and showcasing typically humble vegetables like our ugly carrot.

I think those that have dined at Culprit immediately get the concept by the time the second trolley rolls around, any previous inhibition is replaced with excitement and surprise of the next course to come. 

What are some of Culprit’s standout dishes you’d like to give a shout out to?

Since we are talking about Christmas our Culprit Whole Roast Duck is definitely something to try. Its great for a group, we stuff the duck breast on the bone with a farce made from duck leg and lean pork meat, and roast it with peking flavours, we also serve it with crispy fried duck legs and wings.

For something sweeter try our Whitakers inspired dessert it’s a killer, Pic’s peanut butter and milk chocolate mousse, accompanied by soft serve ice cream and salted caramel popcorn.

What does this holiday season bring to Culprit and its patrons?

Culprit doesn’t really change its decor for Christmas; I’d say in general there is just more of an air of celebration. We have the ability to create a semi private dining area at Culprit which is great for larger groups, we split our dining room down the middle with floor to ceiling drapes. Our taste of Culprit menu is great for these events it’s essentially a best of from our normal trolley service.

Another offering exclusive to the holiday season is our new Happy Hour ‘Raw Trolley’, served Fridays from 4pm to 6pm. $3 Oysters and natural wine specials are perfect for those central city after-work vibes.

What would the ideal Culprit patron hold dear?

There is no pretense at Culprit, everyone’s welcome. Some things that we hold dear are, serving food that is local, following our season, carving our own path and being true to ourselves by not jumping on trends. 

What sort of occasions would Culprit be an absolute winner for?

Beyond Christmas, Culprit is perfect for first dates (we have a lot of staff interaction which can help with any first date jitters), anniversaries and birthdays. We can cater for vegetarians, as we always have an abundance of seasonable vegetables on hand.

What can we expect in the next year from you and from Culprit?

Next year is going to be big, we are looking to open an all-day quick service eatery in the heart of downtown Auckland. Here at Culprit we are keen to collaborate with more chefs from around the country. In our first year we held a few ‘trolley takeovers’ with well known chefs from Wellington, and the success of those call us to make them more of a staple here. It’s a fantastic way to work together with our friends in the industry, it also keeps our team creative and inspired.

There you have it – in Kyle’s very own words. Don’t wait around too long, bookings at Culprit will snap up and you’re likely to regret – get onto reserving your spot now.

Last updated: 24 June 2019