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# 233715 29-Apr-2018 16:03
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For context, my wife and I predominantly dine out 1-on-1 with each other or very close friends, usually 1-on-1 or go in groups of 4 max when we want to have a nice meal. We've always considered the top end (more on my definition of this below) restaurants in NZ to be excellent value in terms of food and to offer a great deal of variety. By top end, I mean the generally well-reviewed/Metro Top 50s or Cuisine-rated restaurants and/or those that are generally regarded as representing a degree of excellence that is beyond the norm. But there are almost always things that sour the experience somewhat or at least leave us shaking our head and I just wonder if it's "just us" or do these things bother anyone else.

 

1. Restauranteurs don't seem to give up any chance to hate on non-alcohol drinkers

 

These days most restaurants have a wine list that's probably 5 to 6 times the length of their food menu, yet many barely make any kind of effort to cater for people who don't wish to drink alcohol. Want a mocktail? Choose from a list of 3 or, if you ask, they will begrudgingly make the "usual stuff" (Virgin Mojitos etc) for you. That makes me feel so.... welcomed. It's not exactly like there is no profit in some decent mocktails.

 

2. Can we just please update the menu.... more than every few years

 

I am not always enormously fond of all the in-season eating fads and all the fads around constantly changing menus but it's disappointing to go to places that (however lovely their food may be) literally have not changed their menu since they have opened.

 

3. Not considering ambiance/space-related issues

 

Our social group love the food of the Blue Breeze Inn but we practically treat it as a "Eat and run" place because (using it only as an illustrative example of the problem) it is always so deafeningly noisy. And tables are cramped so close that, even as a skinny guy sitting by the window seats facing the street, my elbow inevitably make constant accidental contact with the bums of passing waiters and waitresses. Last night, this exact thing happened and in one case both of us were clearly a bit shy and it just resulted in a whole lot of "Opps!!" and red faces. It's a bit disappointing to spend about $80 each for two people and basically feel like you need to run out of their to get some fresh air and not have to shout to talk.

 

4. "Walk-ins only"

 

I am looking at you, Cafe Hanoi. What the heck. I accept that a lot of annoying people book and don't turn up but that's the cost of doing business. At least run a system where half the restaurant can be booked.

 

5. Stop putting the bloody grubby menu that everyone else has handled on top of my eating plate

 

Enough said. Almost all the sharing plate places do this (e.g. Saan, Blue Breeze Inn, Azabu, and Artwok just in my experience).

 

6. Please stop putting washable towels in toilet cubicles with washing basins

 

Clearly restauranteurs don't account for the fact that most people don't put the cover of the toilet bowl down before they flush and have never watched the Mythbuster episode on how toilets when flushed basically propell aerosol forms of **** and crap into the air. At least if you use hand paper towels only within an enclosed dispenser, I can throw away the one that was left exposed by the last person.

 

What are your thoughts? Anything about restaurant eating that you want to get off your chest? Or perhaps people can also discuss gems that they have found etc. Fire away.

 

 


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  # 2004598 29-Apr-2018 16:18
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I should also say that some of the stuff I speak of would bother me a lot less if they occurred in some average neighbourhood bistro or some place where you just go to for the sake stuffing your stomach like Wagamama. But these all get a bit jarring when the quality of the food is very good to excellent overall and you realise that similar eateries overseas mostly would not subject you to similar treatment. But whatever my complaints, I am still eternally grateful that we've moved on from an age where boring, "traditional" places like Mikanos, Number 5, or Antoine's (oh my god) are somehow considered the pinnacle of Auckland eating.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  # 2004604 29-Apr-2018 16:40
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The desert menu bugs me the most, one restaurant we used to go to every desert had coffee in it. I cant stand the taste of coffee.

 

I hate it even more when they say you cant taste the coffee, I dont order as I know I will taste the coffee and they wont refund.

 

The other bug bear is no salt & pepper on the table, the large pepper grinder is so 80's just uncool.

 

I agree about the non alcoholic drinks menu, they could do a lot more in this area.

 

John    





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  # 2004605 29-Apr-2018 16:43
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And those resturants that will not let you take a doggie bag home.

 

John





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  # 2004609 29-Apr-2018 16:48
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We would be similar to you in eating style though whilst I agree with some of your points I can't agree with some as well. 

 

1) As a Tee Totaler, I agree. Went to a well known fine ish dining establishment Friday night and the food was really very very good, but the catered mocktails were a) very expensive, and b) rubbish. Worst Virgin Mojito I have maybe ever had. Also please don't put 90% ice and 10% drink, esp not for $9 !

 

2) Seasonal eating. I applaud and 100% support any restaurant who is taking what's in season and cooks with it. More people need to pay attention to this if we want to reduce the impact of food on the environment. There are some types of dining where that wouldn't be as appropriate but I like the idea behind it. I think most restaurants should really be looking to cycle between menus once per season. I have enjoyed restaurants like Vue De Monde in Melbourne who don't offer menus at all. Just how many courses do you want, and what are your eating restrictions.  Having said that, it's been a while since I went to a restaurant that still had it's original menu. They usually have the same base menu and then specials or changed out options. 

 

3) Two minds about this. BBI you refer to, it's specifically designed like this. It's not designed for an intimate dinging experience, so as to simulate the East Asian dining experience. There are a lot of restaurants that aren't trying to do this, and I hate sitting too close to the next diner and being able to overhear everything. I prefer booths to everything else and if I ever open my high end steak place, booths will feature predominately. 

 

4) God Yes! I hate that. There are some places that I really highly rate that it works ok for. Depot for example. I'ver never had to wait more than 5 minutes and that's ok with me. Fed Street Deli the same. Must be a nightmare to control Waste! I like it if a restaurant takes a proportion of it's covers as walk ups. Sometimes I unexpectedly want to eat somewhere and can't make a reservation in advance.

 

5) Never really thought about that, but equally, most plates etc are removed and food is bought out on different plates. Doesn't overly bother me. 

 

Things that drive me crazy, are nice restaurants where the staff don't serve the lady first, reach across you to someone else (unless the design is unavoidable) and generally miss established norms when serving. 

 

Form over Flavour is my pet peeve. The FIRST priority should be, does it taste amazing? if not, fix that and work backward from there to make it look nice. 

 

Restaurants who clearly don't taste the food they are serving, over or under seasoned etc.

 

 

 

 


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  # 2004611 29-Apr-2018 16:59
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1.  Tiny little meals.

 

Particularly when the price is fairly high. It irks me to pay top dollar for an entree, meal and dessert - then then feel like I have to stop for a burger on the way home because I'm still hungry.

 

It almost seems like there is an inverse law - the more expensive the establishment, the smaller the servings.

 

2.  Waiters who can't tell you about the dish - eg does it contain gluten (relative is intolerant), what is in it, or how hot is it.


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  # 2004613 29-Apr-2018 17:02
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JimmyH:

 

1.  Tiny little meals.

 

Particularly when the price is fairly high. It irks me to pay top dollar for an entree, meal and dessert - then then feel like I have to stop for a burger on the way home because I'm still hungry.

 

It almost seems like there is an inverse law - the more expensive the establishment, the smaller the servings.

 

 

 

 

I think this is more about expectations. I don't expect to go to a fine dining restaurant where the techniques and ingredients are very advanced and expensive and get a huge serving like at a Dennys. 

 

Personally, I'd prefer a smaller well cooked, seasoned and prepared dish. Happy to pay for that accordingly.

 

NZ's food scene has exploded, there are restaurants aplenty to suit any budget or dining expectation.




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  # 2004622 29-Apr-2018 17:22
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networkn:

 

We would be similar to you in eating style though whilst I agree with some of your points I can't agree with some as well. 

 

1) As a Tee Totaler, I agree. Went to a well known fine ish dining establishment Friday night and the food was really very very good, but the catered mocktails were a) very expensive, and b) rubbish. Worst Virgin Mojito I have maybe ever had. Also please don't put 90% ice and 10% drink, esp not for $9 !

 

2) Seasonal eating. I applaud and 100% support any restaurant who is taking what's in season and cooks with it. More people need to pay attention to this if we want to reduce the impact of food on the environment. There are some types of dining where that wouldn't be as appropriate but I like the idea behind it. I think most restaurants should really be looking to cycle between menus once per season. I have enjoyed restaurants like Vue De Monde in Melbourne who don't offer menus at all. Just how many courses do you want, and what are your eating restrictions.  Having said that, it's been a while since I went to a restaurant that still had it's original menu. They usually have the same base menu and then specials or changed out options. 

 

3) Two minds about this. BBI you refer to, it's specifically designed like this. It's not designed for an intimate dinging experience, so as to simulate the East Asian dining experience. There are a lot of restaurants that aren't trying to do this, and I hate sitting too close to the next diner and being able to overhear everything. I prefer booths to everything else and if I ever open my high end steak place, booths will feature predominately. 

 

4) God Yes! I hate that. There are some places that I really highly rate that it works ok for. Depot for example. I'ver never had to wait more than 5 minutes and that's ok with me. Fed Street Deli the same. Must be a nightmare to control Waste! I like it if a restaurant takes a proportion of it's covers as walk ups. Sometimes I unexpectedly want to eat somewhere and can't make a reservation in advance.

 

5) Never really thought about that, but equally, most plates etc are removed and food is bought out on different plates. Doesn't overly bother me. 

 

 

Interesting post - thanks.

 

(1) Let me guess the place. Was it Masu? Because it describes my experience there perfectly. I'd however estimate my mocktail to have consisted of 5% water and 95% ice.

 

(2) I agree with your general sentiment. I guess what I was railing against is the kind of form over substance that you spoke of earlier, where the seasonal eating "thing" just becomes an excuse to shove a line down someone's throat instead of offering something of substance.

 

(3) That kind of street eating vibe is indeed common in Asia but you don't expect to pay top end (albeit low end for the top end) prices and get such low brow ambiance. But we do enjoy the food a lot and just focus on eating and then getting out of there the mment that we can.

 

(4) If you can run the place efficiently and the wait time is no more than 30 minutes max, I don't mind. But as someone who (along with his companions) mostly prefer to dine around the 7.30pm mark, places like Cafe Hanoi make this nearly impossible.

 

(5) In the places that I mentioned, they place the menu on to the eating plate that you scoop the contents of the shared plates on to. Absolutely disgusting.

 

But I agree with you 100% that it should be the taste of the food that comes first and in this respect, two of the most (generally highly rated) restaurants in Auckland utterly fail in my view. I suffer from the bad luck of being dragged to the French Cafe at least 3 times a year by friends that I dearly love and it's a chore every time with the annoyingly clashing flavours and the pomposity of the waitstaff and customers. But Pasture truly takes the cake for being over-priced and pointless. Woah, they bake their own bread!! To your point, though, there are now excellent choices for all budgets and I actually think some of the best eating is at the $80 a head mark, since the quality of what you can get is so far ahead of the dross served up by average neighbourhood bistros or ethnic restaurants at about $45 - 50 a head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
 
 
 




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  # 2004625 29-Apr-2018 17:27
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SATTV:

 

The desert menu bugs me the most, one restaurant we used to go to every desert had coffee in it. I cant stand the taste of coffee.

 

I hate it even more when they say you cant taste the coffee, I dont order as I know I will taste the coffee and they wont refund.

 

 

Most places barely try with desserts at all. My god, I just can't wait for another slice of cheese cake or another creme brulee! Asian-inspired/fusion places are the worst for desserts generally speaking. I love Saan's food but I am still trying to get over the dessert horror show that I once had there -- think a "pudding" that was all water and another dessert that was off. Let's just say I gave the manager a giant serve.

 

 

 

 


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  # 2004626 29-Apr-2018 17:28
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My main gripe is  sloppy service. Maybe I've eaten at too many restaurants with amazing staff (and eaten at plenty of high end places in the UK) but the level of skill at many places is terrible. Staff should have answers to basic questions and not answer "umm" when you ask them something more complex.

 

I go to the US a few times per year and I despise the concept of tipping. One of the great aspects of it is that you can get some amazing service, quite simply because their income relies on delivering top class service.

 

 




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  # 2004628 29-Apr-2018 17:31
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Oh and I forgot one absolute bugbear of mine: over-use of olive oil. Hey, I know what olive oil is. I just don't need it drenched all over my plate.

 

 

 

 


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  # 2004639 29-Apr-2018 18:15
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More. 

 

Restaurants who can't cook a steak. There are some very well known steak restaurants in Auckland I'd say typically fail because of a lack of meat resting time. This is unforgivable in 2018. It's much much better than it was, but that isn't saying much. 

 

Restaurants who overcook Fish. Should be a crime. 

 

Cafes who can't cook an egg to specific requirements. 

 

Cafes who don't provide the option of Marshmallows in a Hot Chocolate. 

 

 




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  # 2004645 29-Apr-2018 18:24
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Boy, you are gonna hate Jervois Steak House. Don’t go there would be my advice.

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  # 2004648 29-Apr-2018 18:30
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dejadeadnz:

 

 

 

(1) Let me guess the place. Was it Masu? Because it describes my experience there perfectly. I'd however estimate my mocktail to have consisted of 5% water and 95% ice.

 

 

No, it wasn't. Though I'd have to say I consider it one of the most overrated restaurants in Auckland in general. Their Sunday Brunch wasn't too bad, but still not as amazing as I'd hoped. Their Black Miso Cod is excellent. 

 

 

(3) That kind of street eating vibe is indeed common in Asia but you don't expect to pay top end (albeit low end for the top end) prices and get such low brow ambiance. But we do enjoy the food a lot and just focus on eating and then getting out of there the mment that we can.

 

 

I think that's what they are going for, the cheaper Asian eating ambiance but with a high end focus on food. I think they mostly expect people to eat and leave. I'd do the same as you. 

 

 

But I agree with you 100% that it should be the taste of the food that comes first and in this respect, two of the most (generally highly rated) restaurants in Auckland utterly fail in my view. I suffer from the bad luck of being dragged to the French Cafe at least 3 times a year by friends that I dearly love and it's a chore every time with the annoyingly clashing flavours and the pomposity of the waitstaff and customers. But Pasture truly takes the cake for being over-priced and pointless. Woah, they bake their own bread!! To your point, though, there are now excellent choices for all budgets and I actually think some of the best eating is at the $80 a head mark, since the quality of what you can get is so far ahead of the dross served up by average neighbourhood bistros or ethnic restaurants at about $45 - 50 a head.

 

 

Pasture was the worst meal I had the year it came out, compared to price and expectation. Trying to be "different" is all well and good, but if the food doesn't taste good, it won't matter what your ideals are. I'd likely go back and see if it's different after 18 months, but there are so many amazing restaurants that open in Auckland every week, it's hard to justify going back to one you didn't have a great experience in.

 

Places I consider seriously excellent in Auckland are: 

 

Sidart (Tuesday Test Kitchen is great fun if you are adventurous, Kazuya (though it was stupidly difficult to get a booking for a single person), Cocorro,  Clooney (I haven't tried it since they changed the menu after nearly closing last year), Depot, One Tree Grill (Friday nights dinner was exceptional but pretty expensive), Bowz, Blue Breeze.

 

 

 

There are MANY others I rate highly too.

 

 


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  # 2004649 29-Apr-2018 18:32
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dejadeadnz: Boy, you are gonna hate Jervois Steak House. Don’t go there would be my advice.

 

 

 

Went once, won't be back. The Grill is passable to good depending on the day. 

 

I had had excellent steak at places I wouldn't have expected from, like pubs in Christchurch.


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  # 2004653 29-Apr-2018 18:38
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Service would be my only gripe. Head in somewhere you’re pestered for drinks and good order, then the service practically vanishes.





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