David Herkt, hmmm. Let's be clear. what we try to do with our Best Restaurants exercise is identify those places that we think are the best at what they do, given that what they do is worth doing in the first place.
Don't like noisy restaurants, David? Don't like low lighting? Don't go to SPQR. We've told people what it's like and we've identified plenty of other places you would probably like instead. Noise and lighting are not usually related to quality, merely matters of personal preference. Are you really arguing that we should all have to accept just one set of personal preferences? And that it should be yours?
Very glad to see you approve of our choice of The Grove as supreme winner in the Metro Restaurant of the Year Awards, Russell. We sent 5 judges in before we made that decision, and many of the other restaurants in our Top 50 (and some that just missed the cut) were visited 3 or 4 times.
But it's a tricky business, evalutating restaurants, and not just because the world is full of experts. There's a great deal to be said for the wisdom of crowds - as long as it is a crowd. I don't believe any of the NZ sites that carry customer responses can justifiably claim they get enough responses for that.
Delicious used to be famous for the rudeness of its service, agreed, but it was also famous for the quality of its food. The fact it has remained full night after night, year after year, under the previous owners and the current ones, suggests there is a very large crowd indeed of people who have long loved the place.
BTW, a bit weird of you to bang on and on about Delicious, which has been in Geoffrey Chunn's hands for coming up to two years now.
As for Monsoon Poon, it's one of many restaurants in our Top 50 that do not aspire to knock The Grove from its perch, but which nevertheless, in our view, provide an outstanding example of a particular restaurant experience. You might call it good times,
I suppose, and in the case of M Poon, there's also that important factor of this being a good place to take a family. We think the food and service and style of the place are very good, whatever may have been the case in the past, and we've made all of this plain in our booklet. I ate there again last night, in fact, when it was packed with people who all seemed to be having a great time.
But yes, for all that, being a critic is about more than reporting on popularity. I like to think one of the jobs of a critic is to reveal the basis of their criticism, so readers can decide whether they share those values and therefore whether they are likely to agree with the judgment. Did we do that with our Restaurant of the Year report? I hope so.
Simon Wilson, Food Editor, Metro
Anyone wondering why architects in this country so often seem a little timid will be well instructed by the "debate" over the new Supreme Court. It looks unusual, so journalists go fossicking for people wanting to condemn it. Why, for heaven's sake, isn't that done with all the public buildings that do their best to be innocuous?
To his credit, John Key has done his best to stay out of the debate. It's not his place to judge architectural merit, he says. Indeed. Contrast that with the approach of John Banks, Mike Lee and sundry other Auckland politicians who, despite their appalling track record in these matters, are only too willing to set themselves up as arbiters of good urban design.
And going all the way back to Ana Smikiss and her first response to Patrick's post, what were the conclusions I drew in Metro that you couldn't agree with? I suggested we get on and build a cruise ship terminal and allow for Rugby World Cup party activity on or around Queens Wharf, and that this process shouldn't be sabotaged by all that "iconic building" talk. I agreed with several commentators that Bledisloe Wharf is the wrong place for a major public building. Most importantly, I suggested it is now time for public debate over what goes on the Tank Farm site. My suggestion: a museum of the future.
See my article in the current Metro. I am pleased to say that Patrick is not alone with his thoughts.
Mmm. So good, I'm just off the retrieve my own copy, douse it in whisky and eat it. And here was me thinking you were tweeting INSTEAD of taking notes.
He told me he thinks al-Qaeda has already won.
if i'm reading you right, and cohen is conflating 'iraq' and 'al qaeda', then he deserves derision.
What Cohen said was this: "I think al-Qaeda have won. Zarqawi said right at the start of the occupation that we are going to have a tactic of bombing the Shia, just killing as many as they can, so they turn on the Sunnis. And I think that seems to have worked. It's not that al-Qaeda will take power in Iraq, but they have won in the sense that any stable society has become impossible."
To be honest, I think my secular modernism is under more direct threat from the religious fundamentalists of America than it is from Islamists. The Islamists' derangement might be considerably greater, but I don't think they have the power to change the society with which I identify. The other lot just might.
Fully agree with that. But Cohen's point is that it's selfish of us to look at it that way. Our democratic rights are far less under attack than, for example, those of women in Saudi Arabia, and yet confronted by the dreadful George Bush, we've forgotten our internationalism.
I don't believe that the majority of left-liberal opposition to the war in Iraq, or to American foreign policy, is predicated on an endorsement of Islamist bigotry.
Yep. Very true. I think Cohen understands this too, but he treats it as irrelevant, and in that he does his argument a very great disservice.
Well, yes. It does seem rich that someone who jumped the wrong way on such an important issue as the war in Iraq, should be telling the liberal-left where they went wrong. But he has the right, nonetheless. The debate, as always, needs to be had on the issues, not the individuals.
Cohen was surely wrong to support the drive to war in Iraq, and he told me several times, as I reported, that he now accepts this. But it doesn’t follow he’s wrong about everything else he says.
And because people have always known that groups like the SWP try to hijack protest movements, it doesn’t follow the movements themselves are in good heart.
What Cohen wants is a commitment to defending democratic rights among people committed to sharia law – and particularly for people oppressed by that law. Fair enough. He believes we need to free ourselves of knee-jerk anti-Americanism in order to do this. I think that’s fair enough too.
He told me he sees a parallel with the 1930s. Then, there were some on the left who viewed the rise of fascism in World War 1 terms, as a matter for imperialists to squabble over. Others wanted an anti-fascist united front and, as things developed, this meant they accepted having that old war-mongering bigot Winston Churchill as a leader.
Is the parallel fair? Perhaps in some ways but not in others? Certainly, as you suggest, this debate was not helped by Oriana Fallaci. But while Cohen admired many things about Fallaci, he didn’t support her appalling Islamophobia. He makes this clear in the very column you refer to, with a careful distinction between “the Islamic world” and “Islamism” (a common enough term in Europe but hardly used here, referring in essence to proselytising fundamentalists).
Your reference to Baghdad Burning and the likely future for Iraq under hardline rule seems tragically accurate to me, and from my discussions with Cohen I would say he shares the analysis. He told me he thinks al-Qaeda has already won.
But I’m afraid you lose me completely when you complain that he wants the Iraq debate to focus on what happens now, and not remain fixated on whether the invasion should have happened in the first place. Why disagree with that?
As for your characterisation of “smug little lectures”, well, come now. This is a polemicist who begs to differ, which means there's a debate to be had. Why forego that so you can stand in line to help with the whipping?