I’ve never been afraid of eclecticism. A dash of Kiwiana and a touch of faded grandeur can go down a treat if served with a generous slug of hipster irony (see Mighty Mighty). A grab-bag of Nana kitsch can turn into something resembling conceptual art if it’s assembled with wit and flair (see Auckland’s Northern Steamship Company). But sometimes it all goes horribly wrong.


I know! Let’s grab some swatches of loud old carpet and put them in gold frames along the bar! Ooh, let’s get some random balustrades and standard lamps to mix in with the leftover expensive designer chairs from the last place! Hmm, needs more cross-stitch to go with the weatherbeaten weatherboards and seven patterns of wallpaper. Floral-painted female torsos will add some artsy class above the urinals. But it needs to be blokier, so let’s add dozens of TV screens to show our branded Flash animations when the footie’s not on, and the piece de resistance: a map of New Zild made out of Tui caps. Maaaate! [Read more]

Of course, the menu matches the decor, finding new and dizzying ways to match Asian, Italian, Cajun and even Irish ingredients in combinations that would test even an invertebrate’s stomach. On the other hand, the wine list is short and predictable, no doubt churned out by a corporate strategy, and the beer selection is similarly uninspiring.

A handful of the above ideas, either evolving organically as he expression of an eccentric individualist’s personality or composed with deft humour by a talented designer, could have worked a treat. But when it’s all combined into a slick and consciously contrived "wackiness" with the sheen of an nascent franchise ready to spread from Queenstown to the Hutt, it’s enough to make the dirtiest of flies long for the clinical perfection of minimalism.