Knives are out as Auckland restaurateurs clash over 'disgraceful' dining experience

Phillip Clark is the chef-owner of Phil’s Kitchen.

Phillip Clark is the chef-owner of Phil’s Kitchen.

Two notable Auckland restaurateurs have been cooking up a storm online, after one allegedly dine-and-dashed from the other's restaurant.

Phillip Clark, head of Phil's Kitchen in Kingsland, took to social media to claim Scott Hawkins started throwing his weight around when confronted after he left the restaurant without paying his $150 bill. 

"I've worked all around the world and I've never had this in my life," Clark said. 

Kingsland in Auckland is home to multiple trendy cafes and restaurants.

Kingsland in Auckland is home to multiple trendy cafes and restaurants.

But Hawkins, co-owner of Dear Jervois in Herne Bay, replied saying Clark's recount of the night was "totally not true" and his behaviour "nothing short of disgraceful".

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The drama happened just after 7.30pm on Wednesday, when Hawkins and his group were booked in for a $50 three course set menu at Phil's Kitchen. 

Scott Hawkins made his reply to Phil's Kitchen public

Scott Hawkins made his reply to Phil's Kitchen public

Hawkins, evidently unhappy with the level of service and the amount of time it took for the mains to come out, left after 9pm without paying.

"We arrived at 7.30 and had a drink. Your entree arrived at 8.20 ... Just before 9 we asked about the main and was told it was not far," Hawkins said, addressing Clark directly.

"After 9 we asked again and then the manager came over and told us off ... She was very rude. 

"She told us this was fine dining and we could leave if we did not like this - We decided it was better to leave."

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Clark chased the group outside and confronted Hawkins, asking to him go back inside and pay. 

The two men's accounts vary greatly with what happened next, with Clark saying Hawkins became angry - and his customers intervened to hold the man back. 

Hawkins responded to Clark's Facebook post, denying punches were thrown.

"I said we did not believe we should and once again could not get a word in because you shouted and started pushing me back into your restaurant.

"No punches were thrown so why you saying this? We walked away with you nutting off in front of eight people in your restaurant as it was close to empty.  

Hawkins said on social media Clark's behaviour was "totally unacceptable".

"You can not shout and abuse customers!"

The posts were later taken down from Facebook.

Police said they were aware of the incident but did not attend. 

Clark said that since the incident, Hawkins' partner had paid the full amount.

"It's a disgrace. It's just not acceptable in any restaurant around the world."

Clark, who has worked for Michelin star restaurants in Europe, said the experience had left a sour taste.

"I'm over it eh, I'm almost ready to leave New Zealand again and head back to Europe, cause there is not point in it if I keep having to do this every two weeks."

Phil's Kitchen was a 2016 finalist in Metro magazine's Best New Restaurant category.

Several messages have been left Hawkins for comment but he did not reply.

 - Sunday Star Times

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