Stars are the bane of a reviewer's life, I tell you. For a start, some people see counting them as a substitute for reading. I was once bailed up by an acquaintance, irate that my five-star recommendation for a film called Russian Ark had made him waste $15: "The entire bloody film was shot in a bloody museum in bloody St Petersburg!" he boomed. This was a matter the review had traversed at some length, though without the sweary bits, but he had not read the words; he just saw the stars.
I have warm memories of Andiamo, despite it not always being fantastically good. There were times when nowhere in Auckland was better — like on a weekend afternoon when the sun was low in the sky and Andiamo’s outdoor tables caught every ray; with a cold glass of Italian white wine and a bowl of herby olives, the only thing missing was a view of the sea.
Actually, one of Auckland’s best secret beaches was just down the end of Sentinel Rd, so if you were really committed to seeing the ocean I suppose you could have done it.
But the menu was a bit mixed up and the service depended a lot on who you got, so each year when the Metro Top 50 rolled around Andiamo would be narrowly excluded — perhaps one judge would take a big swallow and try to argue for it but then three others would interject with things like, “Are you kidding? It’s an Italian restaurant and they serve Thai chicken curry.” So no Italian person has ever eaten a curry?
The space, formerly Andiamo, has been re-designed by Allana Owen (ex-Queenies) into a blushing cacophony of colour and natural light. Tactile surfaces in loud colours; gold wire birdcage lightshades, velvet banquettes, linen curtains and exposed wood give the room, as Morrow says, a “once seen, never forgotten” look, that still somehow feels timeless.
The design had already been finalised when Morrow thought of the name, that they mesh so well is purely serendipitous; the saying ‘halcyon days’ harks back to a carefree time with golden beams of sunlight and garden parties with Pimm’s in hand. A Halcyon is also the name of an Australasian kingfisher with brightly coloured plumage, similar to the taxidermy-esque birds that perch on the lightshades here.