Why is it that the Chefs receive all the accolades? Hey guys, you’re only as good as the best efforts of your wait staff. Indifferent service equals an empty restaurant. Speaking of fabulous waitstaff, we were served recently by a fabulous waiter at the Mecca Cafe in Auckland’s Viaduct. Why didn’t I get his name for heavens sake! The punters loved him! He knew when to engage with his customers and when to withdraw. Having this exceptional waiter was the crowning glory to a lovely dining experience. Wow, the standard had been set. Was I right to be excited about the following night’s booking at an award-winning restaurant, also located at the Viaduct? Definitely not!

So the following evening we find ourselves seated at a uneven table that rocked with the slightest bump. Can you really take the risk of having dysfunctional furniture? The smiling waitperson offered to turn the gas heaters down if required. “Just say the word”, she said. We never saw her again. For the rest of the dinner we were served by an arrogant little toad with a fake smile plastered on his dial. Michael wilted under the gas heaters and asked the wee toady to turn it down. He refused, saying they couldn’t be turned down. Did we believe him? Nah, he just couldn’t be bothered. We asked him to recommend a medium Riesling. Instead of conferring with the excellent Sommelier on duty he suggested a Riesling as dry as a bone. Although the Sommelier came to the rescue and the food was excellent, the ‘domino’ effect had begun and we couldn’t wait to leave. I enjoy tipping. Seriously. Good service should be rewarded. Wouldn’t give this guy a brass razoo!

Strict formulas don’t apply in New Zealand as they do in some countries. Kiwis are not overly fussed on formality, as this photo reveals. Don’t look at Michael who is hogging the camera yet again. Look at the guy in the righthand corner sipping on a classy merlot, his feet firmly encased in a pair of muddy gumboats! And you know what? It wasn’t out of place. Somehow it felt right and it made me smile in a happy way. Good old Kiwis!

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