Monday, January 22, 2007

Benediction, Alphabet Bistro, and La Bocca

I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea. There are some truly excellent cafes in Auckland. However, I didn't go to any of them this week.

Benediction, 30 St Benedict's Lane, Newton

Decor: I have heard all sorts of marvellous things about this cafe, so thought it worth trying. However, the standard cafe minimalism, with the usual white walls and polished concrete floors (Zzzzz), did not work in Benediction's favour. The noise-amplifying ability of the masses of concrete, combined with throngs of shrieking people (the place was packed to the gills), did not complement my slightly awful hangover at all. In a sensitive state anyway, the sheer volume of noise meant I could not stay. I decided to try somewhere else.

Alphabet Bistro, 193 Parnell Road, Parnell

Looked very appealing, until John Banks walked in ahead of me. I have a delicate constitution, so left.

By this time, I was half-crazed with hunger, so went to the very next place I saw.

La Bocca, 251 Parnell Road, Parnell

Decor: Italianate cafe style – little wooden tables, banquettes. A welcome respite from concrete and chrome.

View: Parnell Road. Good place to sit and people-watch.

Clientele: None, other than ourselves. On one hand, that means I could say the clientele was the epitomy of style and gentility. On the other hand, I should have taken that as a dire warning sign.

Poached Egg Barometer: ($12.50 – above average price. Most poached egg breakfasts are under $10). The menu said "eggs any style, with bacon." I asked for poached eggs, no bacon. And lo! I got fried eggs, with mother-fucking bacon. My dining companion ordered Eggs Benedict, with salmon. “It tastes sort of... odd,” she said, politely. The hollandaise was alarmingly runny, and did indeed taste odd. It had separated, so assume it was reheated leftovers.

Coffee: A flat white; bitter and overly milky.

Service: Perhaps if the waitress had spent less time flirting with her boyfriend, and more time practising her English, poached eggs wouldn’t turn into fried eggs. When I queried my dish, she looked confused. “Oh no, it says bacon on the menu. It comes with bacon.” I eventually got what I ordered, but they had put garlic butter on the sourdough toast, which was a ghastly thing to do to innocent eggs. At least, I hope it was garlic butter.


stef said...

The more time I spend in places wherethe majority of a person's wage is dependent on getting a good tip, the more I'm starting to warm to the practice.

Oswald Bastable said...

Serving wenches should be- well-servile!

If they want to be sour, insolent and unhelpful, they should go and work for their local council where such attitudes are mandatory!

Cactus Kate said...

Do you think restaurants should pay John Banks to go to the competitors in order to drive away their customers?

Try sitting at the next table to him in close surrounds having to listen to him squeal and watch him in awkward social interaction with people.

Mrs Smith said...

Stef - I am not entirely convinced of the efficacy of tipping. I think good service is a cultural thing. In NZ, we do tend to see table service as a shitty job, and not something to take pride in being good at. I would say that in the USA, there is a similar mentality, despite the tipping incentive.

Bastable - Council! With such a lack of competence, she could be mayor.

Brilliant, Cactus. I'm sure for a reduced rate, he wouldn't even have to talk. His look of unbearable smugness would be enough to do the job.

Robyn said...

I love Benediction and will not hear and ill word spoken of it! I mainly love it because of the building it's in. Though despite your observation of Benediction's minimalist decor, it is virtually overdecorated in comparison to the rest of the building - gleeful brutalism in an time when folks don't take too kindly too masses of raw concrete. I reccomend a return visit at a time when you're in a more robust frame of mind. The outside seating is rather good, and the coffee will chase 90% of your blues away.