Paul Little: A judicious review

The Sunday roast at Mikano restaurant. Photo / Getty Images
The Sunday roast at Mikano restaurant. Photo / Getty Images

Former District Court judge David Harvey did not have a good night out at the venerable waterfront restaurant Mikano and posted a withering review on Yelp, the business listing website which is enormously useful when it comes to finding a local establishment for whatever you need, from fancy restaurants to cobblers.

Like most such sites, the disgruntled get to vent their spleen in comments which accompany the listings.

Regrettably, not every comment you read there will be as well-expressed, impartial or - the word is unavoidable - judicious as those of Harvey.

Anyone can go on Yelp and bag anyone else by handing out a vicious one-star rating.

Retired judges have this right no less than ordinary citizens.

But unlike ordinary citizens, such as restaurant owners, who are open to criticism when they put themselves out there, judges enjoy the benefit of strict rules about what sorts of comments can be made about their performances.

We should keep our views of how judges measure up in their day job to ourselves.

But I believe it's permitted, to comment on the quality of retired judges' restaurant reviews, which in this case provide rich pickings from the get-go.

One could point out that the narrative strategy deployed in the opening line of Harvey's review - "Mikano is beautifully located on Auckland's waterfront with wonderful harbour views and panoramic vistas of the city" is a little hackneyed.

Haven't we had enough of the tired old trick of having a pleasant scene established only to have our expectations dashed when we discover that there is a serpent in the garden? Old as Genesis, that one.

But soon things take an eerie turn: "In fact there was no sign of any food at any of the nearby tables. And there wasn't anything coming out of the kitchen."

This is straight out of Kafka or perhaps Monty Python, isn't' it? Film festival fans will detect a whiff of the great surrealist director Luis Bunuel: not only is the party left bereft of food, there is no food of any description to be seen.

Harvey does not take advantage of the opportunities suggested by this scenario and fails to explore the idea of a restaurant devoid of food as a metaphor for the human condition. He just gets right on with the berating.

And here Harvey possibly - to use a cliche which I'm sure a writer of his skills would spurn - presents us with a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Because the justice system in which he toiled for so long, isn't altogether free of the fault for which he castigates the hapless pillocks who, by his account, don't cut the mustard at Milano.

The one thing that more than any other got his dander up was the unconscionable amount of time it took for nothing to be done.

For a start, it took 20 minutes for orders to be taken. At this point you might wonder if this was the first occasion on which Harvey had been to a restaurant where you have to leave your car. He needs to get over to Ponsonby for a reality check on waiting times.

But the waiting didn't end there. Ten minutes before the complimentary bread arrived. A further wait of at least 25 minutes while plates remained unburdened by anything edible was promised.

Not being served your meal for more than half an hour? Having to wait for something which you're completely entitled to expect?

What kind of outfit is this where people are left hanging around before they get what they deserve?

It makes you wonder what Teina Pora would think.

- Herald on Sunday

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