The man who ate Lincoln Rd operates as a lone, hungry wolf, but this week I had lunch at Sierra at the Lincoln Centre strip mall with two westie chicks.
Simonne was from Bethells, and Andra from Waitakere. They regarded Lincoln Rd as town - they said if someone out where they live said they were going to the city, everyone knew they meant Lincoln Rd. Not downtown, and not "Horrenderson", as they called Henderson, because who goes there anymore?
Simonne got the Lincoln Rd Burger and Andra got the eggs benedict with salmon, and I got the potato rosti starter with a cup of tea and an Anzac biscuit.
Total cost, $64.50.
Yes, that's what I thought, too, but the manager came over to our table after I paid and said he'd accidentally also charged for a $17.50 prawn and avocado salad.
He apologised and handed over the cash.
Honesty goes a long way in my book and I'd happily return for another $3 Anzac biscuit or the $2.50 shortbread, and the rosti was okay so maybe next time I'd get the $18.50 Westie Hashbrown which comes with chopped bacon and melted cheese.
It's that kind of food and that kind of place. It's clean, and bright, and it gets a lot of Nanas.
I remember the first Sierra when it opened on Jervois Rd in Herne Bay in 1992. It was one of Auckland's very first espresso slophouses and it was an overnight smash, a most groovesome destination. It got a lot of skinny girls who only read Planet magazine for the advertisements.
Sierra is now a successful franchise - it costs between $120,00 and $280,000 to buy in - with 29 stores in Auckland, and more in Hamilton, Tauranga, Taupo, Christchurch and Wellington's answer to West Auckland, Lower Hutt.
The groovers groove elsewhere. Sierra in Lincoln Rd has a row of boring coffee-bean photos on the wall, and a painting of some Japanese carp. And the chattering Nanas, and the hungry Westie chicks, whose conversation had been very loud over lunch and stayed at the same volume as they broadcast their food reviews.
Andra on the eggs benedict: "Usually cafes do too much hollandaise, but this is just right. They've curled the salmon; that's a nice touch. The presentation was nice. There was a muffin on the bottom, then... that thing... you know... I'm drawing a blank. It begins with an S. It's green. A vegetable."
"SPINACH," roared Simonne.
"Yes, and then the rolled salmon, and the other half of the muffin, and the egg on top. I'd give it 7.5 out of 10."
Simonne on the Lincoln Rd Burger: "I didn't eat the burger buns because if I eat bread it makes me sleepy. It's poison to the human body, bread. If I'd eaten that, it would reform in my stomach as a huge knot, and I'd need a nap.
"The sauce was really nice. The pattie was tasty. There was a huge amount of avocado; I hate it when the menu says avocado, and all you get is a thin green strip of it. But there could have been a bit more red onions. The fries - well, personally, I don't like skinny fries, so points off. I don't want to feel like I'm at McDonald's.
"I shouldn't have eaten the bacon. All processed meats increase my blood pressure, whether it's because of the nitrates and sulphites in them, I don't know. But I ate it, and it was good.
"On the whole, this was a 6.5 out of 10. You know? Because it was just a burger."
"The Fireplace in Kumeu - oh my God, now that's a burger," said Andra.
"OH MY GOD YES," hollered Simonne.
"Incredible," said Andra, who looked very dreamy.
"Seasoned beautifully, melt in your mouth," said the even dreamier Simonne, who looked as though she was going to fall asleep - maybe she'd been picking on the burger buns.
But she snapped awake, and said, "Hey. This is Sierra. You know? I think Sierra is definitely one of the nicer places on Lincoln Rd as far as atmosphere goes."
"But the window," said Andra, "could do with a wash."
"And the ceiling," said Simonne. "Look there, around the air vent."
God almighty, they were hard to please. Picky and critical, opinionated, forthright, honest - like I said, Westie chicks.
Debate on this article is now closed.
•All views expressed are the author's.