Since my acquaintance with George Bernard Shaw is limited to a few middle-school theatrical productions, I had no clue that Shaw was obsessed with revolving buildings. As visitors to his British home place (and readers of Chad Randl's absorbing treatise on revolving architecture) discover, Shaw hijacked his wife's gardening hut and remade it as a spinning office. He wrote Pygmalion on rotation.
I like revolving rooms too. I've eaten in revolving restaurants in Berlin, Toronto, and Dallas, and have been smitten by them all (although I wish the view from atop Dallas' Reunion Tower wasn't obstructed by so many crossbars, a fitting problem in a city that values being seen over seeing.) While many diners have soured on revolving restaurants, dismissing them as overpriced gimmicks, I can't imagine a setting more consistent with the promise of specialness that compels people to eat out instead of burrowing into their sofas with boxes of pad thai.
Restaurant critics aren't without biases. Some reliably fall hard for restaurants with extensive vegetarian menus, and others swoon over seafood. Over time, readers usually detect critics' soft spots and gauge their reviews accordingly. While I strive to evaluate every restaurant without regard to my personal likes and dislikes, I know there are certain types of restaurants I tend to judge less harshly, too. I'm a sucker for restaurants with decades-long histories, and restaurants that revolve.
If SkyCity were situated at sea level, it would be an easy restaurant to savage. The prices are more memorable than the food, which just clears the "acceptable" bar (check out our weekly food porn slideshow for evidence that food can look bland.) The servers dispatch their duties with the same corporate-mandated efficiency that their colleagues demonstrate when operating the elevators.
I'm guessing the first restaurant reviewers who visited the restaurant felt much the same way. I scoured newspaper archives, but couldn't find any mention of the food at SkyCity during its first two decades. Who wants to pan a revolving restaurant?
Not me. And while that may seem unfair to grounded restaurateurs, I promise to extend them the very same courtesy should they figure out a way to elevate their mediocre eateries and make them turn. After all, rotation did wonders for George Bernard Shaw.
Read the full review here.